Keith Lionel Urban (born 26 October 1967) is a New Zealand-Australian country music singer, songwriter and guitarist whose commercial success has been mainly in the United States and Australia. He eventually signed on with Capitol Records, where he made his solo American debut in 1999 with the album Keith Urban.
What particularly appealed to Urban when he signed on was the mentoring. “I always wish I’d had more mentors, better mentors, wiser mentors, people who were proper professional working musicians to guide me as I was coming up.” His voice drops to a whisper and he leans in to lock eyes. “Trust is such a valuable commodity in this business — I’m still incredibly wary of many things and many people. That’s why I thought if I can offer tiny yet crucial bits of advice and guidance or direction on how to dodge the bullets I danced with, it could make all the difference.”
Urban devoted much of his time in early 2012 to serving as a judge and mentor on the Australian version of the TV talent competition show, The Voice. He and Vince Gill hosted the We're All for the Hall concert in April at Nashville's Bridgestone Arena to help raise $465,000 for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum. Later that month, he was officially inducted as a member of the Opry.
His goal is to reach out to as many fans as possible, sometimes literally: Urban routinely plunges into the crowd and makes his way to a remote stage to give the people in the back of the house what appears to be the thrill of their lives.
"You go out into the crowd in your shows," Smith told Urban. "And they actually touch you as you're playing the guitar, running through. What is that like?"
"Touch is probably not the word I was thinking," Urban said.
"What word would you use?" Smith asked.
"Fingernails are involved," Urban said laughingly.
"Claw," Smith suggested.
"Yeah," Urban said. "They can get a little aggressive."
Not that he's complaining: Keith Urban is living the life he's always wanted.
In November, Urban underwent throat surgery to repair damaged vocal cords. The star, who is currently a coach on Australia's "The Voice," was given strict doctor's orders to rest his voice during his recovery.
In the latest issue of W Magazine, which hits newsstands in May, Kidman opens up about her husband's quiet recovery, and how it affected their marriage.
"Three weeks of no sound -- no laughing, no coughing, no sneezing, nothing," the actress told W Magazine. "He could write things down, and he would scribble away."
“I loved the challenge of writing for a film,” Urban said in a press release for the project. “I’ve never done that before. After seeing Act of Valor, my co-writer (Monty Powell) and I wanted to capture the essence of not only what these men and women do so extraordinarily, but how that relates to all of us. Valor shows us what they are willing to give their all for, which made me wonder, ‘what am I willing to give my life for?’ ‘For You’ is intended to allow the listener to define who that is for them.”
Some of the sonic experimentation, though, was the result of more than just creative ambition. "I used a lot of new guitars this time, because all of mine got lost in the (middle Tennessee) flood," says Urban. "It was a real blessing in the end, because it got me out of my comfort zone, and I was really focused on making music, and not what we were making it with. I borrowed a few guitars, bought a couple of amps on eBay, and just sort of embraced it—that whatever we’ve got to work with, we’re gonna make it work."
The magic of Get Closer, then, isn’t a result of what happened when Keith Urban was in the recording studio; it's about all the other hours of the day. "I just think there’s more love in this album, and that permeated everything and made the music deeper," he says. "I loved making this record. I felt a tremendous sense of balance in my life, as a husband and a father and a musician who gets to go and try to capture all that and harness it and create something."
His latest studio album, Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing (2006), came out that fall. Around the time of the album's release, Urban voluntarily checked himself into a rehabilitation facility. "I deeply regret the hurt this has caused Nicole and the ones that love and support me," Urban said in the statement, according to People magazine. "One can never let one's guard down on recovery and I'm afraid that I have. With the strength and unwavering support I am blessed to have from my wife, family and friends, I am determined and resolved to a positive outcome." While struggling personally, Urban continued to thrive professionally. The new album has spawned several hits, including "Once in a Lifetime" and "Stupid Boy," which won Grammy for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 2007.
"We played five nights a week down in Florida, and then we'd drive up here on, like, a Monday, and then put on a show Monday afternoon for the record company people," Urban said.
"Praying that someone would pick you up?" Smith asked.
"Praying that someone would, like, save us from the abyss of nothingness," Urban said. "Invariably, nothing would happen.
"I was absolutely sure I was in the right place, and I couldn't understand why it wasn't working," Urban said. "It was very frustrating."
Eventually, the frustration led to dependence on alcohol and cocaine.
"You struggled then with addiction in the late '90s," Smith said. "How bad did that get?"
"It was difficult," Urban said. "I mean, it was a difficult time for me in Nashville. You know, there's only sort of so much constant rejection that I can take until I didn't know what else to do. It was an escape mechanism that sort of got out of hand, unfortunately."
By 1999, after a stint in rehab, he was ready to set out on his own.
Keith Urban began learning guitar as a six-year-old. His father, the owner of a local convenience store, agreed to hang a guitar teacher's flyer in his shop window in exchange for free lessons. The lessons went to his son, who demonstrated natural talent on the instrument and won several talent competitions while still in elementary school. Urban grew comfortable on-stage, and he worked on his singing and acting abilities as a member of the Westfield Super Juniors, a local theater company. Meanwhile, he took a cue from his father (who had a deep interest in American culture and country music) by gravitating toward the work of Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Don Williams, and Jimmy Webb, all of whom inspired his early attempts at songwriting. Urban added his own dimension to those influences when he discovered Dire Straits and became interested in the fretwork of Mark Knopfler, which led to in-depth study of Knopfler's technique.
Singer, songwriter, musician. Born Keith Lionel Urban on October 26, 1967 in Whangarei, North Island, New Zealand. As a child raised in Australia, Urban inherited a passion for American country music from his parents.
By the time he was a teenager, the guitarist had won several talent shows and joined a country band. His signature style, a mix of rock guitar and country sound, emerged during those formative years. In 1988, he debuted his first album, which enjoyed success in his native Australia. It was time to cut his teeth in Nashville.