Crooner Josh Turner back at Alabama Theatre in Myrtle Beach area

No. 2 was No. 1 last year for South Carolina’s signature baritone, Josh Turner.

The native of Hannah, between Conway and Sumter, will return Friday to the Alabama Theatre in North Myrtle Beach.

Although “Time Is Love,” his first single from his “Punching Bag” CD, released last June on MCA Nashville, peaked at No. 2 on the country charts, it finished atop Billboard’s top country songs of 2012, as tallied by radio airplay and audience response.

“Time Is Love,” with its special guitar and mandolin bridge, kept a slow, steady climb on the charts, and it took some time to reach the studio as well.

On a phone call last month from home in Nashville, Tenn., Turner said he heard that the three songwriters had worked on the number for a bit, then “kind of stashed it away,” but he’s so glad he took it into the studio.

“I knew for the very first time listening to it that this was a very special song,” Turner said, “and this has the makings of a hit.”

Turner’s second CD from last year, “Live Across America,” issued by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store, packaged 12 songs recorded in various venues. They include “Wouldn’t Be A Man,” from a concert in Savannah, Ga., and his first hit, “Long Black Train,” which roared in Texas’ capital.

The album became a chronicle for Turner, whose “Live at the Ryman” was released by Cracker Barrel in 2007, the year of his Grand Ole Opry induction.

“Those are the most magical performances of each song,” Turner said of his second live CD. “And we never knew where that was going to be. Each and every song was played in a completely different place, from a casino in Atlantic City, N.J., to a rodeo in Austin, Texas, to a theater in Nashville, Tenn.”

Reared in ‘Paradise’

Turner also contributed a chapter to a book edited by Charlie Daniels, “Growing Up Country: What Makes Country Life Country,” published in 2007 by Flying Dolphin Press/Broadway Books. He recounted Hannah as “paradise,” full of family time, the great outdoors and lessons learned for life.

The father of three boys, ages 6, 3 and 2, with wife Jennifer Ford Turner, he said they’re all growing up in the Volunteer State, also “living out in the country.”

Still, on every visit home to Hannah, Turner shares the setting that he cherished in childhood, “for some things I want them to grasp on to,” to pass on values instilled from folks where he grew up.

“They’re hardworking, blue-collar people,” Turned said, “living paycheck to paycheck. They’re down to earth and humble. They have their church, school, work and community, and there’s a lot to be said for that. … I want them to see that as often as I possibly can. I will take them around to places that my daddy did with me, and go hunting and fishing.”

Turner, calling his business “go, go, go all the time,” spoke of giving the boys “that balance,” because they spend “so much time” on a bus with circuits of concerts, but he wants them to see “where Daddy’s from” and how he his life proceeded to Nashville. Slowing down “to carve time out to do things that I really love” has taken priority for “fun stuff” with the family, including spring break, summer vacations and ball games.

“I’ve scheduled the work around all those times,” Turner said laughingly, because “That made my manager very nervous.”

Turner also found a home on stage as a teen, performing in the “High Steppin’ Country” revue, which opens June 19 for its 37th summer of shows, at 8:30 p.m. Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, at Lakewood Camping Resort, between Myrtle Beach and Surfside Beach.

Words reflect feelings

Continuing his emphasis on writing more of his own music – eight of the 12 songs on “Punching Bag” bear his name, with two solo – Turner said composing for the next CD, “it’s never too early to start the process,” and the work’s worth it when “I have a good handle of songs we’re crazy about.”

Putting his own words and music down fulfills a meaning for Turner whenever he looks back.

“It just shows my artistry and my heart, and what kind of person I am,” he said, “and feelings I had at that particular time. It shows fans a lot of my heart and that I really worked hard on this record.”

Turner voiced another reason why that for this Friday, besides the performance near his home base, he and his wife have the date circled on their calendar.

“We’ll be in North Myrtle Beach on our 10th wedding anniversary,” he said. “We’ll probably have some family come out.”

The celebration began more than a month ago.

“We took an anniversary trip,” Turner said. “We went to Hawaii.”