Interview With Josh Turner

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Recently contemporary country music singer, Josh Turner, made his way to Switzerland for the 26th edition of Country Night Gstaad. The two day festival showed off some amazing talent this year. Besides Turner, other artists playing were the Swiss Highwaymen, Ricky Skaggs and Kellie Pickler. The festival also meant the European debut for Josh. After having a record deal for 13 years he finally made it across the ocean and took the time to answer a few questions after his first show in Europe.

  1. Hi Josh, thank you for sitting down with us. Yesterday was your European debut. Do you see yourself coming back? Playing more shows in more countries?

Josh: Absolutely! I’ve been wanting to do this for quite a while. I view this as the beginning for me. I want to continue to do this. When I first got into the music business my ultimate goal was to become a household name. Not only in the US but across the world. And that takes time, there’s a lot of people in the world, you know. Being able to get my music to all those people is a lofty goal obviously, but I just have to do it one show at a time and not do too much at once. Coming to Gstaad was a worthy debut. Now that I’ve started this I’m going to continue and maintain it. It’s not a one-time show. It’s been great and one of the things that really motivated me to come to Europe is that for the last 5 years during the CMA Music Festival in Nashville I’ve noticed there have been a lot of international fans. Whether they were part of my fanclub or not, they’ve been coming up to me and really expressing their love for my music and me as an artist. They’ve been from all over the world! Sometimes I look at people and wonder how did you even hear about me!?! It’s just amazing. So yeah, this festival is just the beginning for me in Europe.

  1. When preparing to perform here in Gstaad did you change your set list at all or did you keep it the way you’ve been performing in the states?

Josh: I considered changing the show up and doing some different things but I had second thoughts about that because I wanted the crowd here to see who I really am, what I’m about and why I appeal to crowds in the states. So I didn’t want to come over here and change what was already working. I wanted to come over here and keep everything the same. Obviously we’re a long way from home and we don’t have all of our equipment or some of our instruments with us, so there were a lot of things we had to adapt to already. Musically, I figured that staying the same and doing the same thing would probably be the less complicated way of doing things.

  1. You are quite popular amongst the ladies but are a dedicated family man. How do you deal with female fans throwing themselves at your feet?

Josh: Honestly I try to ignore it. I know that sounds kind of rude but and I don’t want to come across as rude but I do have to ignore it. I can’t entertain that. I’m very committed to my wife. She’s the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen. I’m very committed to her. We have a strong friendship, a strong marriage and obviously we have 4 young boys to raise and I want to set a good example for them. But at the same time I do realize that the female demographic is a huge part of my fanbase and I want to appeal to them. Whether it’s musically or image wise. But for me it doesn’t go beyond that. There’s a line that I won’t cross and don’t cross. So yeah, it’s something that early on my wife had more trouble with then I did. And I had to keep reminding her by saying: “Honey, every time you see a woman staring at me you just have to realize….look at your outfit, look at your shoes, look at your purse. They’re helping me buy all that stuff”.

  1. Besides being a singer and songwriter you’re also a short story writer, now that you’ve published your book “Man Stuff”. You’ve been telling stories through your music for many years now. Why did you feel the need to write a book?

Josh: I was approached by the publisher, Thomas Nelson, about doing this book. Which terrified me at first but when we started talking about the idea I became very comfortable with it and was able to dive right in. It was actually a lot easier then songwriting because I was able to sit there and write and tell stories. Kind of reflect back on my life. I wasn’t singing or trying to make things rhyme or hunched over a guitar all day. So in some aspects it was much easier to write a book. But yes, country music is all about story telling so I felt like, in a lot of ways, it was similar for me to write a book of that nature and in the format of short stories about my life, things that I’ve learned that have allowed me to grow as a man and as a person. It was kind of a natural transition. I was very proud to put a lot of those stories into a tangible form. Not only to pass on to my fans, children and grandchildren but also to honor the people I learned from. Whether it was my parents, grandparents, my hero’s or friends.

  1. Can you tell us more about the Josh Turner Scholarship Fund?

Josh: It’s a fund my wife and I started back in 2005 with our own money and it was a very modest beginning. I learned really quickly that dealing with charities and being a philanthropist is very hard work. Early on I expected everybody to start throwing money at me, haha. And that was so not the case! And that is still not the case today. It’s been a hard row to how, so to speak, as we say in the south.

It’s a scholarship fund for high school seniors who are in a rural school setting without music opportunities or opportunities to go to collage to pursue a career in music. So it’s basically a fund to help those specific students to go to school and achieve their dreams. It’s grown a lot since we started, coming up on 10 years now. We’ve had 5 or 6 recipients so far. I’m interested to see where we’re going to go from here.

  1. On your Long Black Train album you covered «You Don’t Mess Around With Jim». A single by Jim Croce. What made you decide to cover this particular song? Are you a fan of Jim’s music?

Josh: What’s funny is that I’m real country. Somebody asked me the other day if I’ve ever been to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and I said no, that’s not really my cuppa tea, haha. Cause I’m so country, I grew up on country and that’s where my heart’s at. And so prior to actually cutting that song I wasn’t all that familiar with Jim Croce. I’d heard some of his hits but beyond that I couldn’t tell you much about him. So the idea was actually by one of the people from the label. When he brought the idea up I thought he was kind of crazy. But when I listened to the song I said: “You know, this really is a country song if you listen to it”. It’s a story song and melodically it has got a country thing to it. Not only that but I felt like it would really show off my voice in a great way. It’s actually one of my favorite songs on that record. So I’m glad I did it.

  1. With the economy being the way it is today. A band like U2 is giving away their new album and hope to cash in by selling merchandise and tickets to live performances. Do you see country music heading that way?

Josh: I can’t really speak to that. Someone from my label would have to answer that question. I’ve never been one to work really hard at something, put my heart and soul into it and just give it away. I majored in Commercial Vocal Performance at Belmont University and the true definition of commercial music is to sell it, not to give it away.

Josh Turner Gstaad Switzerland

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