Keith Lionel Urban (born 26 October 1967) is a New Zealand-born 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 US, 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 2000s 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 March 31, 2009 and November 16, 2010 respectively. In September 2013, he released a brand new album titled Fuse, which produced four more number ones on the newly introduced Country Airplay chart. Two are those number ones are duets with Miranda Lambert and Eric Church. A new single, entitled "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16", was released in June 2015 as the lead-off single to his upcoming eighth American studio album Ripcord.
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 thirty-seven singles on the US country charts, eighteen of which have 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.
Keith Lionel Urban was born in Whangarei, New Zealand, on October 26, 1967 as the youngest son of Marienne and Robert "Bob" Urban. From the age of 13, he attended Sir Edmund Hillary College in Otara, South Auckland, New Zealand and by 17, 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 his teacher, Sue McCarthy (now Crealey and still a family friend) and began entering local competitions, in addition to acting in a local theater company. Urban has stated that his guitar playing was influenced by two rock players, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac). He also performed at country festivals from the age of 10.
In 1983, Urban was a contestant on the 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. Urban also performed regularly on stage at the Northern Suburbs Country Music Club near Caboolture.
In 1990, Urban signed with EMI in Australia and released his self-titled debut 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, who 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 with "Walkin' the Country" and "Just Some Love" at numbers 50 and 61. Throughout the late-1990s, Urban also played guitar on several other artists' albums, such as Paul Jefferson, Tim Wilson, and Charlie Daniels.
Urban released his self-titled American debut album 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 US country charts. Its 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 hit on the charts. The last single, "Where the Blacktop Ends", written by Steve Wariner and Allen Shamblin, went to number 3. 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".
Urban released his second American album Golden Road in 2002. Out 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 1. The second single was the number 3 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 1, 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 three million copies.
In 2002, Urban posed nude for Playgirl. On the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, he stated on 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 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 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 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 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.
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 and went to number 3 as well as winning 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 2 and 5. Urban released his first greatest hits collection Greatest Hits: 18 Kids on November 20, 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 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 fall of 2008. Later that year, Urban served as a duet artist for Brad Paisley's single "Start a Band", on whom 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.
Urban announced that the lead single for his fifth studio album would be entitled "Sweet Thing". This song became the 10th No.1 hit. The album, Defying Gravity, was released on 31 March 2009, through Capitol Records. 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 1. The fourth single, "'Til Summer Comes Around", went to number 3. The fifth and final single "I'm In" is a cover of 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 2. 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 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.
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.
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. A fifth single, "Raise 'Em Up", was released to country radio on 26 January 2015. It reached at number 1 on the Country Airplay in May 2015.
In June 2015, Urban released "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16", which will be the lead single to his upcoming 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. On 22 September 2015, Urban celebrated the 10th anniversary of his third studio album Golden Road being certified triple platinum, for sales of three million copies of his record.
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.
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 Foundation and the Grammy Foundation.
While living 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.
Urban met American-born Australian actress Nicole Kidman at G'Day LA, a Hollywood event honoring Australians, in January 2005, but they reportedly did not begin dating until six months later. Kidman and Urban were married on Sunday, 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 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 called 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 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, 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.
Discography: Keith Urban (1991)
Keith Urban (1999)
Golden Road (2002)
Be Here (2004)
Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing (2006)
Defying Gravity (2009)
Get Closer (2010)