Keith UrbanKeith Lionel Urban (born 26 October 1967) is a New Zealander-Australian singer, songwriter and record producer well known for his work in country music. 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 US Billboard Hot Country Songs chart.
Still signed to Capitol, Urban made his solo American debut in 1999 with a second eponymous album. Certified platinum in the US by the RIAA, it produced his first number one on the Hot Country Songs chart 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 2000s decade. The album's fourth single, "You'll Think of Me", featuring his nephew and Australian country artist Rory Gilliatte, earned him his first Grammy Award. 2004's Be Here, his third American album, produced three more number one singles and became his highest selling album, having earned a 4× Platinum certification. Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing was released in 2006, containing "Once in a Lifetime" as well as his second Grammy Award song "Stupid Boy". A greatest hits package titled 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 four more number ones on the Country Airplay chart, two of which are duets—one with Miranda Lambert and the other with Eric Church. A new single, titled "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16", was released in June 2015 as the lead-off single to his eighth American studio album, Ripcord. The album later produced the Country Airplay chart number one hits "Break on Me", "Wasted Time", and "Blue Ain't Your Color", with the latter also becoming Urban's longest reigning number one on the Hot Country Songs chart, spending 12 weeks at number one. His tenth album, Graffiti U, was released in 2018 and includes the Top 10 hit "Coming Home".
Urban has released a total of nine studio albums (one of which was released only in Australia), as well as one album with The Ranch. He has charted 37 singles on the US Hot Country Songs chart, 18 of which went to number one, counting a duet with Brad Paisley and the 2008 single "You Look Good in My Shirt", which he previously recorded on Golden Road. Those also include his third Grammy Award-winning single "Sweet Thing" 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.
Urban was born on 26 October 1967, in Whangarei, New Zealand. He is the youngest son of Marienne and Robert "Bob" Urbahn. He lived with his parents in Caboolture, Queensland, Australia. His father, who owned a convenience store, put an ad for a guitar teacher in his shop window. Urban took lessons from his teacher, Sue McCarthy, and began entering local competitions, in addition to acting in a local theatre company. Urban has stated that his guitar playing was influenced by two rock players, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac).
In 1983, Urban was a contestant on the Australian TV talent show New Faces. A few years later, he began making 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 programmes performing duets with local Brisbane girl Jenny Wilson. They won a Golden Guitar award at the Tamworth Country Music Festival. Urban also performed regularly on stage at the Northern Suburbs Country Music Club in Bald Hills, where he was a member. He was in a band called 'Kids Country', that performed during school holidays at various venues and made appearances on the Reg Lindsey show and Conway Country. He also teamed up with Angie Marquis, Tony Black, Peter Black and Tina Rouaen in a teen rock band that performed during the summer holidays at the local water slide and theme park.
1990–1999: Early yearsIn 1990, Urban signed with EMI in Australia and released his self-titled debut album. He appeared on the 1990 compilation album Breaking Ground - New Directions in Country Music, which was nominated for the 1991 ARIA Award for Best Country Album. He toured as a backup act to Slim Dusty between 1993 and 1994. In the mid-1990s, both people recorded a re-worked duet of Dusty's classic "Lights on the Hill". Urban appeared for the first time at the Grand Ole Opry backing Dusty. He also sang backing vocals on INXS's live album Live Baby Live (1992).
Urban moved to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1992. The next year, 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 a band known as The Ranch, which 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 that year: "Walkin' the Country" and "Just Some Love". Throughout the late 1990s, Urban also played guitar on several other artists' albums, such as Paul Jefferson, Tim Wilson, and Charlie Daniels.
1999–2001: Keith UrbanUrban released his self-titled American debut album in 1999 under the production of session pianist Matt Rollings. It was led by the number 18 single "It's a Love Thing", followed by the number four single "Your Everything", which made him the first male New Zealand performer to reach the Top 10 on the US country charts. Its follow-up, "But for the Grace of God", written by Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin of The Go-Gos, became his first number 1 hit on the charts. The last single, "Where the Blacktop Ends", written by Steve Wariner and Allen Shamblin, went to number three. He won the 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", 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 HereUrban released his second American album Golden Road in 2002. Of the 13 songs included on this album, Urban produced seven himself and co-produced the other six with Dann Huff. The album's lead-off single "Somebody Like You" was released in July 2002 and spent six weeks at number one. The second single was the number three hit "Raining on Sunday", which Radney Foster had previously released as a single from his 1998 album See What You Want to See. The third and fourth singles from the album, "Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me" and "You'll Think of Me", went to number one, with the latter winning him the Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance in 2005.
On 22 September 2005, Urban's third studio album Golden Road was certified triple platinum, for sales of 3 million copies.
In 2002, Urban posed nude for Playgirl. On the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, he stated that he regrets posing nude despite not showing any full frontal nudity.
Urban performed "Lights on the Hill" for Tamworth's 2004 tribute concert following the death of Australia's Slim Dusty, an artist whom he 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 at Earls Court, London, SECC, Glasgow and The Point, Dublin. On 6 June a UK-only album, Days Go By, was released. The 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 this album. Instead, Capitol chose to release "Days Go By", the lead-off to his third American album Be Here. By late 2004, this song became Urban's fifth number one 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 favourite. 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 this album were "Better Life" and "Tonight I Wanna Cry". The former, which Urban wrote with Richard Marx, spent six weeks at number 1 and 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.
2006–2008: Love, Pain, & The Whole Crazy Thing and Greatest Hits: 18 Kids
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. Following it was "Stupid Boy", which was co-written by Sarah Buxton, went to number 3, and won him 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 two and five. Urban released his first greatest hits collection Greatest Hits: 18 Kids on 20 November 2007. This compilation 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 World 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". That same month, Urban recorded a new version of "You Look Good in My Shirt" and released it as a single in June of that year. "Over the years it ("You Look Good In My Shirt") has always played like a hit song," Urban said. "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 2008. Later that year, Urban served as a duet artist for Brad Paisley's single "Start a Band," on which both he and Paisley sang and played guitar. This song was included on Paisley's album Play and it went to No. 1 in January 2009.
2008–2010: Defying GravityUrban announced that the lead single for his fifth studio album would be titled "Sweet Thing". This song became his 10th number one hit. Capitol Records released the album, Defying Gravity, on 31 March 2009. The second single, "Kiss a Girl", was released 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 one. The fourth single, "'Til Summer Comes Around", went to number three. The fifth and final single "I'm In" is a cover of a song by Radney Foster, taken from the same album as "Raining on Sunday" was. This song was also recorded by The Kinleys, whose version had been a Top 40 single in 2000. Urban's rendition went to number two. 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 Defying Gravity album, featured many big-name opening acts, such as Taylor Swift, Sugarland, and Jason Aldean. On 27 June 2009, Urban 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 CloserIn 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 be released 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 one. 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 constitute 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 six 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.
On 13 May 2013, Urban released the single "Little Bit of Everything", produced by Nathan Chapman. It was 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 10 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. A fifth single, a duet with Eric Church, "Raise 'Em Up," was released to country radio on 26 January 2015. It reached number 1 on Country Airplay in May 2015.
2015–2017: RipcordIn June 2015, Urban released "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16", as the lead single to his eighth American studio album, Ripcord. In October 2015, Urban teased a new song called "Break on Me"; it was released to the public on 23 October. It reached number one on the Country Airplay chart. On 22 September 2015, Urban celebrated the 10th anniversary of his third studio album Golden Road being certified triple platinum, for sales of 3 million copies of his record. "Wasted Time" was released as the album's third single and it went on to reach the number one spot on the Country Airplay chart. "Blue Ain't Your Color" was released as the album's fourth single and became a huge hit for Urban. It topped the Hot Country Songs chart as well as the Country Airplay Chart, spending 12 weeks at number one on the former chart. "The Fighter", a duet with Carrie Underwood, was released as the fifth single from the album.
In 2016, Urban was selected as one of 30 artists to perform on "Forever Country," a medley of "Take Me Home, Country Roads", "On the Road Again", and "I Will Always Love You" which celebrates 50 years of the CMA Awards.
2017–2018: Graffiti UOn 8 November 2017, Urban released a new song titled "Female", which has been described as "an empowerment anthem partially inspired by the Harvey Weinstein scandal." Urban said that the song, "[a]s a husband and a father of two young girls...It affects me in a lot of ways. And as a son -- my mother is alive," he added. "It just speaks to all of the females in my life, particularly. For a guy who grew up with no sisters in a house of boys, it’s incredible how now I’m surrounded by girls. But not only in my house; I employ a huge amount of women in my team. The song just hit me for so many reasons." Kidman provided background vocals on the song. The song would serve as the lead single for Urban's tenth studio album.
It was announced that Urban's tenth studio album would be titled Graffiti U and that a world tour in support of it would begin in summer 2018. On 19 January, the song "Parallel Line" was released as a promotional single. On 21 March, Urban released the album's second single "Coming Home", a heavily pop-influenced, upbeat song featuring a duet with pop singer Julia Michaels. This song also features a revamped version of the opening riff of Merle Haggard's hit "Mama Tried" throughout it and with his family's blessing, Haggard even received a posthumous credit for writing the song. Coming Home reached number one on the Mediabase Country Chart on 5 August 2018. As well as Julia Michaels, the album also features duets with Lindsay Ell, Shy Carter, and Kassi Ashton. Never Comin’ Down was released to radio as the fourth single in August 2018.
2019-present: The Speed of NowOn 16 May 2019, Keith Urban released a brand new single, "We Were", a reflective mid-tempo ode to mischievous youth. "I like the idea that life just happens. At some point, whether in the moment or not, you just gotta go with it" he said. The track was co-written by Eric Church.
On November 24, 2019, Urban played the halftime show at the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup championship in Calgary.
On February 27, 2020, Urban released the single, "God Whispered Your Name" to country radio. The track was co-written by Contemporary Christian arist Chris August.
On April 24, Urban released the promotional single, "Polaroid". In May 2020, Urban announced his eleventh studio album, The Speed of Now Part 1, would be released on September 18, 2020.
The VoiceOn 23 November 2011, Urban was confirmed as one of the four vocal coaches in the 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 two.
American IdolThe 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 newest judge Harry Connick Jr.. On 23 June 2014, Fox announced that Urban would return to the judging panel for season 14. Urban returned to judge the 15th season of American Idol in 2016.
Signature guitar lineIn October 2013, during a concert in Tampa, Florida, Urban announced he would sell 'signature' guitars and accessories through Home Shopping Network (HSN). HSN offered the guitar packages twice in six months, resulting in 42,000 sales.
A portion of the proceeds benefit The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation and the Grammy Foundation.
Personal lifeWhile living in Nashville, Urban frequently used cocaine. After reaching a personal low point in 1998, he became determined to stop using the drug and checked into Cumberland Heights, a treatment centre in Nashville.
Urban met Australian actress Nicole Kidman at G'Day LA, a Hollywood event promoting Australia, in January 2005, and they began dating six months later. They married on 25 June 2006 at the Cardinal Cerretti Memorial Chapel in the grounds of St Patrick's Estate, Manly, in Sydney.
On 19 October 2006, Urban checked into the Betty Ford Center in California. On 20 October, he 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 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 website called KeithUrban.com. The singer wanted to acquire the rights to the URL. The painter counter-sued. The lawsuit was settled in the painter's favour.
On 1 October 2007, Urban skidded off his motorbike when a paparazzo followed him near his home in Sydney. He was not hurt. In a statement released by his publicists, Urban said that the incident was "the result of one person's desire to do his job and my desire to maintain my privacy". Urban said that he tried to avoid an oncoming car and dropped his bike. He said the photographer came to his assistance without taking photos.
On 7 January 2008, Kidman said she and Urban were expecting their first child together. Kidman's publicist said, "the couple are thrilled and cannot wait". Kidman gave birth to a daughter in 2008 in Nashville, Tennessee. On his website, Urban said:
"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, by surrogate at Nashville's Centennial Women's Hospital.
Urban is a citizen of New Zealand, Australia and the United States.