An icon of neo-traditionalist country music during the 2000s, Hannah, SC, native Josh Turner explicitly modeled his style and approach to vocals upon those of icon Hank Williams, and in fact reportedly authored his first blockbuster single, "Long Black Train," (2003) after feeling inspired by one of Williams' box sets. This brought Turner national attention and a broad fanbase, thanks in no small part to its willingness to grapple with Biblically oriented themes such as salvation and redemption. The same year's album, also entitled Long Black Train and supervised by one-time Dolly Parton producer Frank Rogers, performed equally well. Turner issued follow-up recordings, Your Man and Everything is Fine, in 2005 and 2007, respectively, and moved into film acting with a portrayal of Christian singer/songwriter George Beverly Shea in Robby Benson's Billy Graham biopic Billy: The Early Years (2008).
Biography by Nathan Southern
- Introduced to country music by his grandmother; Turner has said his influences include Hank Williams, Randy Travis, John Anderson, Johnny Cash and Vern Gosdin.
- Made his public singing debut in church at age 5 with the song "Arky Arky."
- The first album he bought was Randy Travis' Storms of Life (1986).
- Developed a vocal lesion in the mid-'90s, due in part to working around chemicals in an agricultural warehouse; Turner had to stop singing for a year in order to let it heal.
- Was a classmate of American Idol contestant Melinda Doolittle at Belmont University.
- Wrote breakthrough hit "Long Black Train" after listening to a Hank Williams box set one night at the Belmont University library. On his walk home, Turner said he had a vision about a black train and wrote the song that night.
- Released his debut full-length, Long Black Train, in 2003; it went on to sell more than 1 million copies on the strength of the title track.