The Harmonious Pairing of Josh Turner and Randy Travis on ‘Three Wooden Crosses

“Three Wooden Crosses” is a significant song in the career of Randy Travis. Released in 2002, it marked a triumphant return to the top of the charts for Travis, who hadn’t had a No. 1 hit in almost a decade. This song stood out not only as a country music hit but also as a gospel classic. It was released through a collaboration between Warner Bros Nashville and Word Records, with the latter being the first Christian label to have a single reach No. 1 on the country charts. The emotional depth and themes of faith and redemption in “Three Wooden Crosses” have resonated with listeners since its release.

The song was crafted by songwriters Kim Williams and Doug Johnson. Johnson conceived the idea of the song’s central characters – a farmer, a teacher, a preacher, and a hooker – on their way to Mexico. He found the combination of these characters intriguing and, along with Williams, developed the story that unfolds in the song. Williams praised the song’s opening lines and was excited to see where the narrative would lead. The songwriters focused on the theme of forgiveness and understanding, deciding that the hooker would be the surviving character to have the most impact on the audience.

Randy Travis’s rendition of “Three Wooden Crosses” from his 2002 album “Rise and Shine” became incredibly popular. It was his 16th No. 1 hit and was highly requested on the radio. The song’s popularity led to its winning Song of the Year at both the CMA Awards and the Dove Awards. Its message of mercy and redemption, delivered through Travis’s voice, struck a chord with listeners.

The song has become one of Travis’ signature songs, further solidified when he named his 2009 compilation album “Three Wooden Crosses: The Inspirational Hits of Randy Travis” after it. Over the years, various artists have covered “Three Wooden Crosses,” including Josh Turner. Turner’s rendition adds a unique touch to the classic, helping to keep the song’s legacy alive in the world of country and gospel music​.

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