There are two places where country hitmaker Josh Turner no doubt feels most at home. One is in the realm of gospel music and the other is the Grand Ole Opry. Turner has been an official Opry member since October 2007 and recently returned to Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium, the site of the wintertime Opry at the Ryman performances, to deliver a gospel classic with significant ties to the long-running radio show.
Joined onstage by Sonya Isaacs, a member of one of contemporary gospel music’s most distinguished family acts, Turner performed an uplifting rendition of the Hank Williams country and gospel classic “I Saw the Light.” Led by Turner’s honky-tonk-tinged baritone and shaded with subtle, minor-note changes in his delivery, the song remains one of the most enduring and powerful of Williams’ catalog, and one that the late legend and his fellow Opry cast members, including Roy Acuff and the Carter Family, would perform for a national TV audience in March 1952 on NBC’s Kate Smith Evening Hour.
“Hank focused a lot on the blues aspect of human emotion and the loneliness and the heartache and heartbreak and all that,” Turner tells Rolling Stone Country. “I like to think he would appreciate what I’ve done with this song, because it adds that element to a song that has always sounded upbeat and happy and positive.”
Turner’s version of “I Saw the Light” is included on his latest album, I Serve a Savior, the singer’s first full-length gospel project, which also features appearances from fellow Opry member Bobby Osborne, as well as Turner’s wife and four sons.