There wasn’t an open seat in the Massey Performing Arts Center (MPAC) this morning as students packed into the venue to hear from alumnus Josh Turner, speaking on his faith and career for today’s Chapel. The event opened with videos of Turner performing and speaking about his most recent release, 2018’s “I Serve a Savior.”
In an interview with Vice President for Spiritual Development Dr. Todd Lake, Turner then reflected on his Belmont experience and lessons he learned while in college. As a senior in high school, he suffered a vocal injury that led to a year of vocal rest. He was not allowed to sing except for in his classical voice lessons, a struggle for someone who grew up loving country music and who dreamed of making it his full-time career.
“I was having to overcome a physical injury. I would go to my apartment and just be exhausted vocally. My future hinged on the health of my voice, and I thought my future was out the window. The ironic thing is that God had a plan for it all.”
One day while sitting in the MPAC basement, Turner tried to sing a Randy Travis song, testing how his recovery was progressing. “That vocal injury was a blessing in disguise. My voice was healing, and the hard work was paying off. My voice sounded better than before the injury.”
Turner also recounted the story of writing his signature song, “Long Black Train,” a song born at Belmont and inspired during a walk across campus after listening to a Hank Williams box set in Bunch Library. After playing the song for a few friends and at both his junior and senior recital, “Long Black Train” became his entry into the music business. In fact, he recalled one particular class with Dr. Clyde Rolston in which the girl sitting in front of him shared his demo with a publisher, ultimately leading to his first record deal, while the girl sitting behind him took on even greater meaning in his life.
“I always tell people the greatest thing about Belmont for me is that I got a record deal and a wife out of the same class.”
Lake then prodded him to share advice for the 900+ students in the audience, and Turner mentioned a lesson he learned recently from watching the “Spider-Man: Homecoming” movie.
“At one point Tony Stark said to Peter Parker, ‘If you’re nothing without the suit, then you don’t deserve the suit.’ That got me thinking that this Marvel stuff is pretty deep. I knew who I was before I got a record deal. I didn’t necessarily need the ‘suit.’ I feel like God’s given me that suit for a reason.”
“There are people out there looking for hope, for peace, for something to pull them out of the pit… If I let them see Jesus in me, they are going to see the way, the truth and the life. What I’m doing has a meaning and a purpose.”
For more photos from today’s event, visit the Belmont Photo Gallery.