Josh Turner dropped his very first Christmas album two months short of his 20th anniversary as a performer on the Grand Ole Opry. Eight studio albums — including a gospel and covers album — came between, but the singer insists he wasn't avoiding the project.

It's quite the opposite, actually.

Turner — whose 11-song King Size Manger album arrived in October — has fond memories of Christmases growing up in Hannah, S.C., and as someone who was raised in the church, he cherished traditional classics. With a full family ready to record and tour with him to support the project, the time was right.

"There wasn't any twisting of my arm for this," he tells Taste of Country Nights host Evan Paul during a sit-down filmed at the ToC Nights studio. "I've been wanting to make this my whole career."


Traditional songs like "Angels We Have Heard on High" and "Go Tell It on the Mountain" come alongside collaborations on "Joy to the World" with Rhonda Vincent and "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with Turner's wife and four sons. Then there are originals, like the title track, "What He's Given Me" and "Soldier's Gift." Click play above to hear how "Mele Kalikamaka My'Ohana" was inspired by wife Jennifer.

"I've had to explain to people," Turner begins, "when you come to Nashville and you're looking for a record deal and trying to establish yourself, you're not thinking, 'Man, I wanna go to Nashville and make a Christmas record.'"

So, it wasn't a priority early on, but as Turner's career developed and he notched eight No. 1 Billboard Country Airplay hits, he found himself with time and a lot of ides. In fact, a three-hour planning session with his producer left his counterpart a bit overwhelmed. Apparently with Josh Turner, there's no putting the Christmas genie back in the bottle once it's out.

During the full interview, Turner opens up about his idyllic Christmases as a kid and how he and Jennifer celebrate with their growing family (spoiler alert: his tour is a family affair). The 44-year-old also opens up about his favorite song to perform live and the one song that's troublesome every time.

See the Best Country Christmas Songs Of All-Time, Ranked

This list of the top country Christmas songs was compiled by blending staff opinion, reader feedback and airplay and sales data.

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