Most singers spend years foraging for a record deal. Not Josh Turner. The barrel-voiced newcomer got his berth on MCA Records within months of graduating from college. And it’s a song he wrote while in college, “Long Black Train,” that’s become his first hit. Happier still, he’s just learned that he’ll open for Brooks & Dunn on their 2004 tour, which will run February through April.
… Initially, Turner attended Francis Marion University in Florence, S. C. “During that time,” he reports, “I started playing guitar and writing songs.” After two years at FMU, he transferred to Belmont University in Nashville, the alma mater of such country stars as Trisha Yearwood and Brad Paisley. “Probably the first time I recorded any original stuff was at the studio at Belmont,” he notes. “That really opened my eyes. I learned a lot from that.” In August 2001, he graduated from Belmont with a degree in commercial vocal performance.
Like so many others on Music Row, Turner benefited by making the right contacts. Katherine Blasingame, a fellow student in his entertainment career development class at Belmont, was interning at the time for music publisher Jody Williams. “Katherine had heard my demos and was impressed,” he says. “She took [them] to Jody. He was impressed and wanted to meet me. He ended up signing me to a production deal – and [then] signed me to a publishing deal in October 2001.” Williams also arranged for him to meet Mark Wright, then a senior vice president at MCA Records, who would eventually co-produce Turner’s debut album.