Belmont alumnus and country music singer Josh Turner spoke to students Wednesday morning about his new book, life in the music industry and staying true to his faith.
He began the convocation by talking about the single that changed his life, “Long Black Train.” Turner wrote the song at Belmont. It also got him his first publishing deal and record deal, and it was the first song he played at the Grand Ole Opry.
“Music has always been powerful to me,” Turner said.
He told a short story of a woman who spoke with him at a concert and told him she planned on overdosing, but when she heard “Long Black Train” on the radio, she decided to turn her life around.
“That was the moment I decided that this was a platform,” Turner said. “God called me to be a country singer.”
Turner has a new album coming out early 2015 and said fans can expect to get more of the same Josh Turner.
“Beyond that, they’re going to find some songs that are a little more current, a little more modern, a little more out of the box,” Turner said. “The heart of it you’re going to find lyrics that mean something not only today, but 20, 30 years from now and melodies that are classic and that you can easily sing along to.”
Turner also spoke about his new book, “Man Stuff: Thoughts on Faith, Family, and Fatherhood.”
“Thomas Nelson publishing had seen an article on me in a magazine, and that inspired them to approach me about doing the project,” Turner said. “I think initially their idea was for me to do some sort of devotional geared towards me.”
Turner said it terrified him to think about writing a book this early in his career and life.
“The more I talked to them about it, the more I thought about it and prayed about it, the more it excited me. I got motivated to just sit back and write and tell stories and look back on my life and think about things I’ve learned from and things that I’ve grown from and kind of pass that knowledge and wisdom onto my fans and readers,” Turner said.
Each devotional and story in the book has a life lesson attached to it, Turner said.
Turner also spoke about his three years at Belmont which helped him train to get a record deal.
“I wanted to come to Nashville to get a record deal, but my parents insisted that I finish college, so I was like, ‘Why don’t I major in country music?’ So that’s what I did,” he said.
He said he learned a lot in his classes, specifically entertainment career development, but he learned more about himself, life and how the music business industry is a large network where connections are vital.
His time at Belmont also helped him strengthen his faith.
“As a Christian, like I said, coming up here and having a newfound freedom and something I have never had before and just being away from everything I’d ever known, everything I was comfortable with, it tested me,” Turner said.
He also had words of advice for students and joked that President Robert Fisher warned him against speaking about parking.
“First of all, they have to love it, if they don’t love it, this business will chew them up and spit them out,” Turner said.
Turner joked that he has days where he wonders why he sings and performs for a living.
“All of the glamorous stuff that everybody sees on TV and hears on the radio, that’s such a small percentage of time that is spent in this business,” Turner said. “The rest of it is the grind. You’re living out of a suitcase, making business decisions. You’re dealing with just a daily thing of trying to keep your music out there.”
His final piece of advice was for students to stay true to themselves.
“Like Loretta Lynn used to always say, why try to be somebody else when it’s hard enough to be myself,” Turner said. “Surround yourself with good people.”
Written by Katelyn Foehner