Keith Lionel Urban (born 26 October 1967) is an Australian country music singer, songwriter, guitarist, entrepreneur and music competition judge. In 1991, he released a self-titled debut album, and charted four singles in Australia before moving to the United States the following year. He found work as a session guitarist before starting a band known as The Ranch, which recorded one studio album on Capitol Nashville and charted two singles on the Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Still signed to Capitol, Urban made his solo American debut in 1999 with the album Keith Urban. Certified platinum in the U.S., it produced his first Number One on Hot Country Songs with "But for the Grace of God". "Somebody Like You", the first single from his second Capitol album, Golden Road (2002), was named by Billboard as the biggest country hit of the 2000–2010 decade. The album's fourth single, "You'll Think of Me", earned him his first Grammy. 2004's Be Here, his third American album, produced three more number 1 singles, and became his highest-selling album, earning 4× Platinum certification. Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing was released in 2006, containing "Once in a Lifetime", as well as his second Grammy song, "Stupid Boy". A greatest hits package entitled Greatest Hits: 18 Kids followed in late 2007. Defying Gravity and Get Closer were released on 31 March 2009 and 16 November 2010 respectively. In September 2013, he released a brand new album titled Fuse, which produced two more number ones on the newly introduced Country Airplay chart.
Urban has released a total of nine studio albums (one of which was released only in the United Kingdom), as well as one album with The Ranch. He has charted 31 singles on the U.S. country charts, of which 16 have reached Number One (counting a duet with Brad Paisley and the 2008 single "You Look Good in My Shirt", which Keith Urban himself previously recorded on Golden Road). Those number-ones also include his third Grammy Award winning single "Sweet Thing", which is from his album Defying Gravity.
Urban is also known for his roles as a coach on the Australian version of the singing competition The Voice, and as a judge on American Idol. Since 2006, he has been married to actress Nicole Kidman. In October 2013, Urban introduced his own signature line of guitars and accessories.
Keith Lionel Urban was born in Whangarei, New Zealand, the son of Marienne and Robert "Bob" Urban. From the age of two, he lived with his parents in Caboolture, Queensland, Australia. His father, who owned a convenience store, put an advertisement for a guitar teacher in his shop window. Urban took lessons from this teacher, Sue McCarthy (now Crealey and still a family friend) and began entering local competitions, in addition to acting in a local theater company. Keith Urban has admitted that his guitar playing was influenced by two rock players, Mark Knopfler and Lindsey Buckingham. Keith Urban also performed at country festivals from the age of 10.
In 1983 he was a contestant on Australian TV talent show New Faces.
A few years later he began to make inroads into the Australian country music scene with regular appearances on the Reg Lindsay Country Homestead TV Program, Mike McClellan's Music Program, and various other TV Programs performing duets with local Brisbane girl Jenny Wilson; they won a golden guitar award at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. He also performed regularly on stage at the Northern Suburbs Country Music Club near Caboolture.
1991–2000: Early years
In 1990, Urban signed with EMI in Australia and recorded his self-titled debut album. He toured as a backup to Slim Dusty in 1993 and 1994. In the mid-1990s, Dusty and Urban recorded a re-worked duet of Dusty's classic "Lights on the Hill". He appeared for the first time at the Grand Ole Opry backing Dusty. He also sang backing vocals on INXS's 1991 live album Live Baby Live.
Urban moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1992. In 1993, he appeared in the music video for Alan Jackson's rendition of "Mercury Blues". He and Vernon Rust co-wrote "Jesus Gets Jealous of Santa Claus" on Toby Keith's 1995 album Christmas to Christmas, 4 Runner's 1996 single "That Was Him (This Is Now)", and "Tangled Up in Love" on the Raybon Brothers' 1997 self-titled album. In 1997, he formed The Ranch, which also included drummer Peter Clarke and bassist Jerry Flowers. The Ranch released one self-titled album for Capitol Records Nashville and charted two singles on the Hot Country Songs charts in 1997: "Walkin' the Country" and "Just Some Love", which respectively reached numbers 50 and 61. Throughout the late 1990s, Urban also played guitar on several other artists' albums, including Paul Jefferson, Tim Wilson, and Charlie Daniels.
2000–2001: Keith Urban
Urban released his self-titled American debut in 1999 under the production of session pianist Matt Rollings. It was led off by the number 18 single "It's a Love Thing", followed by the number 4 "Your Everything", which made him the first male New Zealand performer to reach the top 10 on the U.S. country chart. The follow-up, "But for the Grace of God", written by Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Go's, became his first number 1 on the country charts. Then "Where the Blacktop Ends", written by Steve Wariner and Allen Shamblin, went to number 3. He won Top New Male Vocalist Award at the 2001 Academy of Country Music Awards and the 2001 Country Music Association's Horizon Award. Allmusic's Thom Jurek described the first and third singles favorably, and praised the instrumental track "Rollercoaster" by saying that Urban was "flat picking his Stratocaster like it was another extremity he was born with." He thought that those songs "balance the slick and sometimes too-soft production on the record".
2002–2006: Golden Road & Be Here
Urban released Golden Road in 2002. Of its thirteen songs, Urban produced seven himself and co-produced with Dann Huff on the other six. It was led off by the single "Somebody Like You", which spent six weeks at number 1. Following it was the number 3 "Raining on Sunday", which Radney Foster had previously released as a single from his 1998 album See What You Want to See. After this song, both "Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me" and "You'll Think of Me" went to number 1, with the latter winning him the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance.
Urban performed "Lights on the Hill" for Tamworth's 2004 tribute concert following the death of Australia's Slim Dusty, an artist whom Urban had both written for and covered.
In 2005, Urban performed in front of European audiences for the first time. In May, Urban supported Bryan Adams on his UK and Ireland tour, which included dates in Earls Court, London, SECC, Glasgow and The Point, Dublin. On 6 June a UK only album, Days Go By was released, this album contained songs from both Be Here and Golden Road.
"You Look Good in My Shirt" was originally intended to be the fifth single from Golden Road. Instead, Capitol chose to release "Days Go By", the lead-off to his third American album, Be Here. By late 2004, this song had become Urban's fifth number 1 hit on the country chart. Although it was not officially released, "You Look Good in My Shirt" spent one week at number 60 on the country charts in July 2004 and remained a fan favorite. The next single from this album was the #2 "You're My Better Half", followed by the five-week number 1 "Making Memories of Us", which was written by Rodney Crowell and previously recorded by both Tracy Byrd and Crowell's side project, The Notorious Cherry Bombs. The next singles from Be Here were "Better Life", which Urban wrote with Richard Marx, and "Tonight I Wanna Cry"; the former spent six weeks at number 1, while the latter spent three weeks at number 2. After this song, "Live to Love Another Day" spent 14 weeks on the country chart, reaching a peak of number 48, although it was never officially released as a single.
2006–2009 : Love, Pain, & The Whole Crazy Thing
On 21 August 2006, Urban's "Once in a Lifetime" debuted at No. 17, setting what was then a new record for the highest-debuting country single in the 62-year history of the Hot Country Songs chart. Despite the high debut, the song peaked at number 6. After it was "Stupid Boy", co-written by Sarah Buxton, which went to number 3 and won Urban his second Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 2007. The album's next two singles, "I Told You So" and "Everybody", respectively peaked at numbers 2 and 5. Urban released his first greatest hits collection, Greatest Hits: 18 Kids, on 20 November 2007. The CD contains all of his top 10 hits, along with two new songs, "Romeo's Tune" and "Got It Right This Time (The Celebration)."
In January 2008, Urban embarked on the Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Carnival Ride Tour with fellow country singer Carrie Underwood. In early May 2008, Urban debuted a new song at the Grand Ole Opry titled "A New Sunshine". In late May 2008, Urban re-recorded "You Look Good in My Shirt". The song was released on the radio at the end of May. "Over the years it ("You Look Good In My Shirt") has always played like a hit song," said Keith. "That, combined with numerous requests from both fans and radio about why it was never a single, inspired us to get back into the studio and re-record the song." The single was a precursor to the "Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy World Tour" concert DVD release in the Fall of '08. In late 2008, Urban was featured on Brad Paisley's single "Start a Band", on which both he and Paisley sang and played guitar. That song, from Paisley's album Play, went to No. 1 in January 2009.
2009–2010 : Defying Gravity
Urban announced that the lead single for his fifth studio album would be titled "Sweet Thing". This song became the first No.1 single off the album. The album, Defying Gravity, was released on 31 March 2009, through Capitol Records. Its second single, "Kiss a Girl", debuted in March 2009. Urban performed this song on American Idol, during the season 8 finale, as a duet with eventual winner Kris Allen. "Only You Can Love Me This Way", the third single, went to number 1. After it, "'Til Summer Comes Around" went to number 3, and "I'm In" went to number 2. The latter song was a cover of Radney Foster, taken from the same album as "Raining on Sunday"; it had also been a Top 40 single for The Kinleys in 2000. In between the two, Urban also made a guest appearance on then-labelmate Emily West's single "Blue Sky", which charted at number 38.
Urban's 2009 Escape Together tour, supporting the album, Defying Gravity, featured many big name opening acts, including Taylor Swift, Sugarland, and Jason Aldean. On 27 June 2009 Keith filmed a video for the song, "Only You Can Love Me This Way", at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, Iowa.
In 2009, Urban was also a judge for the 8th annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.
2010–2012 : Get Closer
In May 2010, Urban entered the studio to begin work on a new album. The recording process was documented in a blog on his official website. At the beginning of September, it was announced that the album would be titled Get Closer and would see release on 16 November. "Put You in a Song" was released as its first single on 13 September. It went to number 2, followed by "Without You", "Long Hot Summer", and "You Gonna Fly", all of which went to number 1. Urban wrote "Put You in a Song" with Sarah Buxton and Jedd Hughes, and "Long Hot Summer" with Richard Marx. Preston Brust and Chris Lucas, who comprise the LoCash Cowboys, co-wrote "You Gonna Fly" with Jaren Johnston, then-member of the group American Bang. After "You Gonna Fly" fell from the charts, Urban released "For You", which was featured as the theme song of the 2012 action film Act of Valor and appeared on the film's soundtrack. The song peaked at number 6 on the country charts.
On 10 April 2012, Urban was invited to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry by Vince Gill at the third annual We're All for the Hall benefit concert which Urban organized. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on 21 April 2012.
Urban plays guitar on Tim McGraw's early-2013 single "Highway Don't Care", which also features a guest vocal from Taylor Swift. This song is the third single from McGraw's album Two Lanes of Freedom.
2013–present : Fuse
On 13 May 2013, Urban released the single "Little Bit of Everything", produced by Nathan Chapman. It is the first single from his eighth studio album, Fuse, which was released on 10 September 2013. The official music video for "Little Bit Of Everything" debuted on VEVO on 25 July 2013. Unlike his previous albums, Urban co-produced with ten other producers on this album. The album's second single, "We Were Us", is a duet with Miranda Lambert. It reached number one on the Country Airplay chart in December 2013. The third single, "Cop Car", was released in January 2014. A fourth single, "Somewhere in My Car" was released in June 2014.
On 23 November 2011, Urban was confirmed as one of the four vocal coaches in the upcoming Australian version of the reality singing competition The Voice.
On 14 September 2012, Urban released a statement that he would not be signing back on for season 2.
The Fox Broadcasting Company officially announced on 16 September 2012 that Urban would replace Steven Tyler as a judge in season 12 of American Idol alongside Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj. On 1 August 2013, it was officially confirmed that Urban would return as a judge for season 13. He was joined by former judge Jennifer Lopez and new judge Harry Connick, Jr.. On 23 June 2014, Fox announced that Urban would return to the judging panel for season 14.
Signature Guitar Line
In October 2013, during a concert in Tampa, Florida, Urban announced he would be offering his own signature package of guitars and accessories, sold through Home Shopping Network (HSN). HSN offered the guitar packages twice in sixth months, resulting in 42,000 sales.
A portion of the proceeds benefit The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundationand the Grammy Foundation.
Urban met American-born Australian actress Nicole Kidman at G'Day LA, a Hollywood event honoring Australians, in January 2005, but they reportedly didn't begin dating until 6 months later. Kidman and Urban were married on Sunday, 25 June 2006, at the Cardinal Cerretti Memorial Chapel on the grounds of St Patrick's Estate, Manly in Sydney.
In Nashville, Urban became a frequent user of cocaine. After reaching a personal nadir in 1998, he became determined to give up the habit and checked into Cumberland Heights, a treatment center in Nashville.
On 19 October 2006, Urban checked himself into the Betty Ford Center in California. On 20 October, Urban issued a statement saying: "I deeply regret the hurt this has caused Nicole and the ones who love and support me. One can never let one's guard down on recovery, and I'm afraid that I have." On 18 January 2007, Urban announced his completion of rehab and his plans to go on tour to promote his new album, Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing.
On 2 February 2007, Urban filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey painter by the same name, who has a web site KeithUrban.com. The singer wanted to acquire the rights to the URL. Keith Urban the singer's URL is keithurban.net. The painter counter-sued. The lawsuit was settled in the painter's favor.
On 1 October 2007, while riding, Urban skidded off his motorbike when a paparazzo followed him near his home in Sydney; Urban was not hurt. In a statement released by his publicists, Urban says the incident was "the result of one person's desire to do his job and my desire to maintain my privacy." Urban says he tried to avoid an oncoming car and dropped his bike. He says the photographer came to his assistance without taking photos.
On 7 January 2008, Nicole Kidman confirmed she and Urban were expecting their first child together. Kidman's publicist said "the couple are thrilled and cannot wait." Kidman gave birth to daughter Sunday Rose Kidman Urban in 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee. On his website, Urban stated,
"Earlier this morning Nic gave birth to our beautiful baby girl, Sunday Rose Kidman Urban. We want to thank everybody that has kept us in their thoughts and prayers. We feel very, very blessed and grateful that we can share this joy with all of my loving fans today."
In 2010, Urban and Kidman had a second daughter, Faith Margaret Kidman Urban, via surrogate at Nashville's Centennial Women's Hospital. On 17 January 2011, Urban posted this statement on his website: "Our family is truly blessed, and just so thankful, to have been given the gift of baby Faith Margaret. No words can adequately convey the incredible gratitude that we feel for everyone who was so supportive throughout this process, in particular our gestational carrier." Faith's middle name is after Kidman's late grandmother.
- Livin' Right Now Tour (2004) – supporting his fourth studio album, Be Here
- Alive In 05 (2005) – supporting his fourth studio album, Be Here
- Still Alive in 06 (2006) – supporting his fourth studio album, Be Here
- Love, Pain & the Whole crazy World Tour (2007) – supporting his fifth studio album, Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing
- Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Carnival Ride (2008) – supporting his fifth studio album, Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing touring with Carrie Underwood supporting her album Carnival Ride
- Escape Together World Tour 2009 (2009) – supporting his sixth studio album, Defying Gravity, released on 31 March 2009
- Summer Lovin' 2010 (2010) – supporting his sixth studio album, Defying Gravity, released on 31 March 2009
- Get Closer 2011 World Tour (2011) – supporting his seventh studio album, Get Closer, released on 16 November 2010
- Light the Fuse Tour (2013) - supporting his eighth studio album, Fuse
- Raise'Em Up Tour (2014) - supporting Fuse
- Brooks & Dunn's Neon Circus & Wild West Show 2001
- Eagles Summer 2010 Tour (2010) – touring with The Eagles and The Dixie Chicks. It was announced on 16 March 2010 that Keith will be hitting the road with The Eagles and The Dixie Chicks for a North American stadium concert tour. 5 concert dates have been announced so far, which include Boston, and Chicago.