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At last year’s CMA Fest, Josh Turner’s fan club party boasted approximately 350 fans at Nashville’s Cannery Ballroom. This year, the 500-plus guest list of Josh’s most loyal fans required a move to a larger venue. Held at Nashville’s Rocketown, Josh hosted a morning concert and breakfast catered by Cracker Barrel.
Josh kicked off his performance with the tune “Eye Candy” before introducing a special guest. “No, it’s not Scotty McCreery,” Josh said. Instead, Josh’s longtime musical hero Randy Travis joined him onstage, prompting cheers from the hundreds of people who were instantly on their feet, snapping photos. Randy and Josh swapped songs and stories like old friends. “Our relationship has grown into a friendship,” Josh told CountryWeekly.com. “We’ve gotten together to write just a bit and we’ve hung out a few times. We definitely have things in common outside of music. We both like shooting guns,” he said with a grin.
Josh joined Randy on the song “T-I-M-E,” which the two recorded together for Randy’s latest album, Anniversary Celebration, which commemorates Randy’s 25th year in the entertainment business. Before the performance, Josh revealed the song almost wound up on one of his own albums. “I don’t know if I’ve told you this before, but I actually was pitched the song ‘T-I-M-E’ as I was finishing up my album Haywire,” Josh told Randy. “I loved the song but the album was already finished.” Addressing the crowd, Josh continued, “When Randy asked me to be on the album, I asked if he had any songs he was thinking of doing, and he sent me the same song. I was like, ‘Wait a minute. I’m actually going to get to perform this song, or half of it anyway.'”
Josh was quick to credit Randy with inspiring him to pursue music. Josh recalled hearing Randy’s “Out of My Bones.” “I was driving down a two-lane road when I heard this song, and I was just blown away,” Josh said onstage. “I would try to sing along with Ricky Skaggs or Vince Gill, and I just thought, ‘Man, I have no [vocal] range,’” said Josh. “Thank God for Richard Sterben of the Oak Ridge Boys. Before Randy, he was one of the few singers I could actually sing along to. So thank you, Randy, for showing me I could sing.” The pair also collaborated on the title track of Randy’s 1988 album, Old 8x10.
Randy put his deep voice to particularly good use on Josh’s signature song, “Long Black Train.” “This song sounds like something Hank Williams could have written,” Randy said of “Train,” which was Josh’s first single. He also compared Josh to another legendary performer, Alan Jackson. “Josh, you also have that same ability to write conversational [songs].” Josh began writing “Long Black Train” while still a student at Belmont University. “This is the only song I’ve written that I’ve felt just come through me like that. I feel like [the song is] a gift that God has given me," Josh said.
Of course, Randy is not the only deep-voiced singer Josh has been performing with these days. Josh surprised Scotty McCreery during a performance in Scotty’s hometown of Garner, N.C., shortly before the teen singer was crowned winner of latest season of American Idol. Josh and Scotty performed “Your Man” and “Long Black Train.” Josh tells CountryWeekly.com that he’s visited with the teen singer while Scotty has been in Nashville recording his debut album. “Scotty has just started recording his album, and I went by the studio, mostly just to say hi,” Josh told said. “I haven’t really given him a lot of advice, but I’m there for him. Not knocking American Idol at all, but now that he’s off the show, he’s getting a taste of what it’s like to be an artist in this business, and all the things that are expected of him. I remember when I was recording my first album and what an emotional experience that was, picking songs and creating the project.”
During his fan club party performance, Josh mused about country music’s latest bass singer. “Here, I’m about 10 years into my career, and he’s just starting out. Maybe one day we’ll both be at his fan club party,” Josh told Randy. “I would be about 75 then,” responded Randy, who turned 52 in May.
So would Josh have auditioned for American Idol if he’d had the chance? “Absolutely, I would have," Josh said. "I tried out for Opryland four times."