Josh Turner may be no stranger to the limelight, but he does admit that performing in front of more than 50,000 cheering and adoring fans can be somewhat intimidating. “The big show,” he said smiling, “you get butterflies.”
The powerful baritone vocalist will be making his second appearance at LP Field — the stadium home of NFL’s Tennessee Titans — during this year’s CMA Music Festival that runs Thursday through Sunday (June 5-8) in downtown Nashville. Turner will be sharing the stage Friday night (June 6) with fan favorites Faith Hill, Miranda Lambert, Jack Ingram and his recent touring partner, Carrie Underwood, along with newcomers Lady Antebellum, Ashton Shepherd and Jake Owen.
“There are just so many people,” Turner said, describing the view of the audience from the big stage. “With it being taped [for television], there’s a lot of pressure involved. The adrenaline gets flowing. There are nerves. … I just think it makes me concentrate more.”
Turner first made an appearance at the CMA Music Festival in 2006 when he performed at Riverfront Park on a bill that included Darryl Worley and Trent Tomlinson. Since then, he’s achieved double-platinum success and produced two No. 1 hits. This fast and far-reaching success has helped reserve him a spot in the concert lineup at LP Field two years in a row. Aside from the size of the crowd, the evening concerts at the stadium have another advantage over the daytime shows at Riverfront Park.
“It’s fun to do the Riverfront, but a lot of times it’s during the day and it’s really hot,” he said. “There are just a lot of people and they’re right up on you. There’s artist after artist. When you move up to the LP Field performance, it just feels more official.”
He’s more than flattered to be an official part of the nightly concert.
“That’s the way everyone ends their day,” he explained, “and when they go to the show at LP Field, it’s kind of their way of unwinding and relaxing. That’s what they’ve been looking forward to — seeing all of their favorite artists. It’s great to be a part of that and be able to at least get up there and play 20 minutes worth of music.”
Additionally, while most artists can only explain what it’s like to perform in front of such huge crowds, Turner’s wife, Jennifer, understands the feeling. She will be joining him again onstage this week as a keyboardist and background vocalist.
“We will always get to share those kinds of moments together,” he smiled. “It’s cool because we experience the highs and the lows of this business together.”
Fortunately for Turner, his career has been in high gear lately — and not just musically. Trying his hand at acting, he recently finished his role in Billy: The Early Years, a film biography of evangelist Billy Graham. In it, he plays the part of Graham’s longtime associate, gospel singer George Beverly Shea.
“They were looking for actors who actually had a relationship with God and that were Christians,” he said. Furthermore, with his comparable voice and on-camera experience, Turner was an obvious choice to be cast as Shea. “I think they were actually looking for an artist, too, so it wasn’t completely foreign to me,” he explains.
Though he admits his part is rather small, he can’t wait for the movie to hit theaters.
“I intentionally neglected to read the whole script because I wanted to be surprised,” he said. “It’s my first movie role, my first acting debut. I want to be just like the next person at the premiere. I don’t want to know what’s coming next.”