(PHOTO: I am Second via The Christian Post)
It’s not about the money or the fame or the glory, but about changing people, multi-platinum country music artist Josh Turner shares on iamsecond.com, a website built to inspire people to live for God and for others.
Turner’s story marks the latest addition to the site, which spotlights dozens of celebrities and everyday people telling their testimonies of personal struggle, transformation and hope through short films.
“I haven’t always been the guy that walks into a room and automatically the attention is on me,” the country singer admitted. “I’m normally the guy that stands off in the corner.”
Now, able to move whole audiences to their feet and command the Billboard country charts, the 34-year-old musician is capturing the attention of thousands nationwide, charming many with his deep and expressive voice.
“Singing allowed me to express myself in ways that I wouldn’t be able to do otherwise,” Turner stated.
It also allowed him to explore his faith more through song.
Growing up in the church in Hannah, S.C., a small farming community “a long way from any kind of big city,” Turner found himself singing the bass and baritone parts in numerous choirs, cultivating his talent.
Though he always dreamed of singing country music as a young boy, he never really thought he could make a living out of it until he heard Randy Travis’ album Storms of Life.
“That was the album that really made me start dreaming of the possibility of doing this for a living,” he remembered. Moving to Nashville in 1998 to get a record deal and try to get his foot in the industry, Turner enrolled at Belmont University where he majored in vocal performance.
One night while in college, walking home from the school’s music library, a vision came to him of a long, black, beautiful, shiny train.
“People are standing out to the sides of the track, watching this train go by, just craving to get on it,” Turner described. “At the same time, they know that this train leads to destruction, it leads to emptiness, it leads to nowhere, but yet they still want to get on it. This train was a physical metaphor for temptation.”
Hurrying home to his apartment, he wrote three verses and a chorus that night, waking up the next morning to write a fourth verse as well.
“At that moment in time when I laid the pen down, I said nobody’s ever gonna want to hear this,” he said. “It’s too old-fashioned, it’s too old-timey, it’s a gospel song. So this is probably not going to end up on one of my records in the future.”
But that was precisely the song that helped him sell a million copies of his first record, Long Black Train in 2003, with a hit title track by the same name reaching the Top 20 of the Billboard country singles chart.
It was also the song that he played the first time he was on the “Grand Ole Opry,” for which he received two standing ovations and an encore.
With many touched by his lyrics, Turner had a realization about his newfound fame: It wasn’t about the money or the glory, but about the people.
“It’s about changing people, it’s about touching people and influencing people in a positive way, and so from that point on, that’s what I’ve tried to do,” he affirmed.
He also realized that there was no song he could write or no record he could make that was going to “save” him. Only a Savior could do that.
“I’m thankful to have Jesus as my Savior,” Turner expressed. “My relationship with God has always been one to where I’m talking to him all day, every day, about anything and everything. It’s just a continuous ongoing conversation that I have with the Lord, and I feel like that’s brought me closer to Him.”
“It helps me think through things clearly, I feel like it’s given me wisdom about other people, about myself, about the life that I live. Ultimately, I get my joy from Him, and always put Him first,” he concluded.
“I don’t feel like God called me to be a Gospel singer. He didn’t call me to be a Christian singer, he called me to be a country singer, and I just happen to be a Christian.”
Turner’s latest single, “Time is Love,” was officially released on Tuesday from his upcoming yet-to-be titled fifth studio album. The debut single from his last album Haywire, “Why Don’t We Just Dance,” a four-week No. 1 hit, was the most-played song at country radio in 2010, according to Mediabase. It also won an American Country Award for Single of the Year-Male.
His fourth No. 1 single, “All Over Me,” was named BMI’s 2011 Song of the Year, and by garnering No. 1, made him one of only seven country artists to have two No. 1 hits in 2010.
Josh Turner’s testimony is just one story among dozens featured on I am Second, which includes other personal films from stars like Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers outfielder and 2010 American League MVP; former Korn band member Brian Welch; surfer Bethany Hamilton; and football stars Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford.
The site, which launched in 2008 in Dallas-Fort Worth, has more than 5.5 million visitors from 217 countries worldwide. Additionally, Thomas Nelson Publishers released the I am Second book this month.