Country star Josh Turner on how faith guides musical content: 'I've always drawn a hard line'

Josh Turner
Josh Turner | UpTV

Award-winning country star Josh Turner has reflected on viewing his career as a calling from God and shared how his faith compels him to draw a “hard line” when it comes to the content he includes in his songs. 

In an interview with The Christian Post, the 45-year-old “Long Black Train” singer revealed he was raised in the church and with a strong understanding of the Gospel message. At a young age, he felt God calling him to sing country music.

“For most of my life, I've been a Christian,” he said. “I’ve always wanted to sing country music, and I've been able to incorporate my faith into it.”

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Though he has a deep personal faith, the married father-of-four said he never wants to be overly “preachy” with others. He simply wants to model Christlike behavior in the way he conducts himself, both personally and professionally. 

“I've always just tried to allow people to kind of be influenced by the way I carry myself, the way I do things. A lot of it's what I don't do. I don't follow trends and I don't fall into certain things a lot of people fall into, and I just tried to let that be kind of my witness and allow my songs to kind of do a lot of the preaching.”

Known for his deep voice and soulful lyrics, Turner is behind a slew of hits including “Your Man” and “Would You Go With Me.” And while many country songs include lines about cheating, drinking and other vices, the artist said his faith has compelled him to carefully consider the subject matter he sings about. In 2018, he released his faith-based album, I Serve a Savior.

“I've always drawn a hard line, even when I did my very first record. I was going around to every publishing company in town looking for songs and writing with different people, and so subject matter was a huge deal to me, and it still is,” he said. 

“Once you record a song, it's out there forever. You don't get to go back and change it or take it away. So you have to make sure that you truly believe in what that song says and that your family's going to be proud of it and your fans. If a song ever gets released as a single, it gets even more attention, and it’s all the more reason to make sure it aligns with who I am as a person.”

Last month, Turner’s Christmas special, "King Size Manger," debuted on UpTV and featured country musician Pat McLaughlin and Rhonda Vincent, along with Turner’s wife and children. 

The special included songs from the King Size Manger album, Turner’s first-ever Christmas project, which was released last year. The album features fresh interpretations of the classics and introduces four originals, three of which were written or co-written by Turner. 

“I've listened to a lot of Christmas records throughout the years and this record stands alone,” the artist said. “It's not like any other record I've ever heard because I really took the time to put my own stamp on it. Even the classics and the standards that we've all heard a million times — I really strive to make sure the songs were done in a new fresh way.”

“I think fans appreciate that because everybody gets tired of hearing the same old song and the same old production over and over and over again,” he added. “So I really wanted to make sure that this record, musically and production, was not a huge departure from all the other records that I had done throughout my career.”

Turner said he’s especially proud of the album’s title track, “King Size Manger,” which he said seeks to explain the grandeur of the Christmas story to someone who might not know it. With a clear presentation of the Gospel message, the song includes the lines, “There may not have been a crown on His head/ But He fulfilled every word the prophets said.”

“We started thinking, ‘How do we explain this story to somebody if they've never heard it before? How do we make it simple enough to understand, but where we tell the grandeur of that story?’” he said. “That’s how it came about when we went to write it, and I’m just extremely proud of it.”

The artist shared how his family strives to honor Christ on Christmas amid the busyness of the season. Every year, he said, his family makes an effort to “reset” and focus on the reason behind the celebration. 

“We always try to just take a moment where we just turn the TV off, turn the radio off. We sit down and we open up the Bible and we actually read the Christmas story,” he said. “We just shut out all the distractions and all the stuff that goes on around Christmas time, and we just kind of have a quiet moment as a family where we remind ourselves why we're celebrating and what this holiday is all about, to begin with.”

In an increasingly secular society, Turner encouraged the next generation of Christian artists to refrain from “compromising their beliefs and values” and instead surround themselves with like-minded individuals. Practicing that in his own career, he said, has enabled him to faithfully live out the calling God has placed on his life. 

“I had to find people in the business that understood what my goals were, understood who I was as a person, and what was important to me, and just being able to surround myself with a team like that that could represent me in the right way. especially when I wasn't around,” he said. 

“That was a huge game changer for me, because early on and at the beginning of my career. I didn't always have that,” he said. “Surround yourself with like-minded people that can carry out your goals and your wishes, even when you’re not in the room.”

Turner’s Christmas special, "King Size Manger," is available on his website for purchase.

Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at:

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