In the past four years, Houston, Texas native Josh Ward has had seven consecutive singles top the Texas Regional Radio Chart. Of the number one’s, four are from his current album, Holding Me Together. The first three came from 2012’s album Promises. Grammy Award winner Greg Hunt produced both albums at Rosewood Studios in Tyler, Texas.
You’ve mentioned the Rosewood Studios in Tyler, TX, as the place to record. What makes your relationship with the studio so special?
“Rosewood has such a really comfortable vibe and there’s some great guys there, just good people, and they know and understand my sound.”
Ward’s passion and devotion to his craft can be heard in every lyric and on every guitar lick.
You’ve been quoted as saying, “I have that disease where I think every song has to be a hit. If it’s mediocre, I won’t do it.” How does this perspective affect your song choices?
“I’ve got to 100% believe in the songs that I’m putting on a record, if I don’t believe it, I just can’t sing and record it.”
As a young boy, Ward was singing old gospel hymns in church.
Which gospel hymn is your favorite to perform? Will you cut an album of hymns?
“Old Rugged Cross is probably my favorite. I’ve thought about a gospel album and will most likely do that at some point down the road when the timing is right.”
By high school he was riding on the rodeo circuit when country music inspired him to put down his rope and pick up his guitar, performing in the parking lots of rodeo events.
You rode in the rodeo circuit when you were in high school. How did you get started riding?
“My buddies in high school were all doing it and I started hauling with them. It didn’t last but a few years. I realized I was better at singing than I was at rodeoin’ – however my 10 year old son is now involved in Ranch Rodeo so we find ourselves right back at it. I don’t get to make many of his rodeos, but I’m home during the week working with his team and coaches.”
Eventually riding at the rodeos became performing at the rodeos. What sparked the change?
“Singing was much easier on the body no doubt. I really enjoyed the feedback from my friends, the feeling of being able to entertain them by singing their favorite songs.”
By 2003, Ward was on the local honky-tonk circuit. He put together his first band and recorded the EP Hard Whiskey.
What was the first song you wrote/co-wrote? Have you recorded it?
“Hard Whiskey was the first song I co-wrote with Josh Norman. I recorded it on the original Hard Whiskey EP back in 2008 and re-released it in 2012 on the Promises album. It went to number one on the Texas Charts. That song is now 15 years old and it’s still a crowd favorite. It’s really cool to hear the fans sing it back to us and that it has had such a long life on the live shows.”
Music critics have described Ward as a country music traditionalist “with a dynamic voice that carries the spirit of his classic country music forefathers.”
Your music has a traditional sound to it. Which artists/songs have influenced you most?
“(The artists that influenced me the most are) Keith Whitley, George Jones, George Strait, Merle Haggard, Mark Chestnutt”
In 2013, Ward was named Texas Regional Radio Awards New Male Vocalist of the Year.
What song was a career turning point for you? Was it one of the seven number one’s you’ve charted?
“’Sent Me You‘ was our first number one on the Texas charts back in 2013. It’s still a crowd favorite. The feedback from that song is really awesome. People will come up after the show and they’ll tell me how that song got them through a breakup, a loss, they played it at their wedding, they got proposed to that song. Knowing that so many people identify with it and the emotion it brings out in them. People are still just now finding that song nearly 4 years later. It’s crazy!”
Last year “Whiskey and Whitley” won the Texas Regional Radio Awards Song of the Year. Listen here to the emotional ‘getting over a breakup’ track here.
His current single, “Change My Mind,” is climbing the Texas radio chart. Listen here.
Next month he joins Cody Johnson on tour, bringing his high-energy live show to the West Coast.
Most of your upcoming tour dates are in your home state of Texas. Do you feel a different vibe when you play elsewhere, for example, in California?
“There are great music fans all over the country. I wouldn’t say there’s a different vibe, but it’s always exciting to meet and entertain new fans in other states. They come out and they know all the words to our songs and they’re just so happy to have good music in their town, some of them even drive hours to see us.”
Tell us about your band – how did you all meet? How do you change up a studio track to perform live?
“We all met through other contacts, friends of musicians. It’s a small circle we all run in out here, everyone knows each other, so when you’re looking to add a player or fill a position, word gets out there. I’m just really lucky I ended up with the band that I have because I 100% believe they’re the best band on the road today. The good Lord definitely blessed me with the crew I have!
We honestly don’t change the tracks from studio to a live show – we play that live show just like the record, just add a ton of energy to it. When you go to a live show, you’re going to hear the record, we take pride in that.”
Which venues are your favorites to perform at?
“Cain’s Ballroom in Tulsa, Brewster Street Icehouse in Corpus Christi, and Whitewater in New Braunfels – those are some awesome venues, we’re always pumped to return to.”
Thank you for taking your time to answer our questions. Please feel free to add anything here – how fans can keep in touch on social media, whatever you’d like to share!
For more on Ward read the feature from a June 2017 issue of ‘Cowboys & Indians’