In 2009, Turner pulled out a saw and hammer and began building a two-story, 1,700-square-foot cottage in the back yard of his Nashville home. The structure would have no phone, no WiFi and no TV, and Turner said it would be his retreat, a quiet place dedicated for songwriting. He finished it two years later.
The effort paid off. Eight of the 11 songs on Turner's 2012 album, "Punching Bag," were written in the cottage.
"It was very fulfilling to know that I was not throwing my money away," recalls Turner, who will headline the 103.1 WIRK Rib Round Up Saturday in West Palm Beach.
Turner had always planned to sing country music. He grew up in Hannah, S.C., and sang baritone and bass at church before moving to Nashville.
His breakthrough moment came in 1999, when he sang "Long Black Train" at the Grand Ole Opry. The audience stood and applauded midsong. Turner, however, wasn't a big fan of the song.
"I thought it was too old," he says. "I thought it was career suicide, because it wouldn't be a good commercial success. But the producer thought it was completely Josh Turner. And it ended up opening a lot of doors for me."
One of those doors led to "Time Is Love," which was the best-selling country single in 2012, according to Billboard. Turner's other recent hits include "Your Man," "Would You Go With Me" and "Why Don't We Just Dance."
His personal life doesn't yield much fodder for country songs. He's happily married with two children, all of whom tour with him. And he's never had a hint of controversy.
"I'm usually the guy who stands off to the side and watches what's going on," he admits. "The ideas are always coming, and I'm always looking for that turn of a phrase."
Hence, the cottage.
Turner will play the fourth annual Rib Round Up, which WIRK's Sammy Cruise said will have 10 vendors selling ribs, ranging from full plates to "a buck-a-bone" samples. The family-friendly festival has grown each year, he says, and vendors have fortified their inventory from the first year, "when they had so much business they were out of food before suppertime." Notable acts that have emerged since playing the Rib Round Up include Thompson Square, the Band Perry and Hunter Hayes.
WIRK Rib Round Up
When: Saturday, March 9; Jon Pardi will play first at 12:05 p.m., followed almost hourly by Greg Bate, Lauren Alaina, Kip Moore, Florida-Georgia Line, Chris Cagle, Justin Moore, Rodney Atkins and Josh Turner (at about 9:40 p.m.)
Where: Cruzan Amphitheater, 601-7 Sansburys Way, West Palm Beach.