Keith Lionel Urban[3][4] AO (born Urbahn; 26 October 1967) is an Australian and American country singer, guitarist, and songwriter. Recognised with four Grammy Awards,[5] he also received fifteen Academy of Country Music Awards, including the Jim Reeves International Award,[6] thirteen CMA Awards, and six ARIA Music Awards. Urban wrote and performed the song "For You" from the film Act of Valor, which earned him nominations at both the 70th Golden Globe Awards and at the 18th Critics' Choice Awards in the respective Best Original Song categories.[7]

Keith Urban
Urban in 2020
Keith Lionel Urbahn

(1967-10-26) 26 October 1967 (age 56)
Whangārei, Northland, New Zealand
  • Australian
  • American
  • Singer
  • guitarist
  • songwriter
Years active1990–present
(m. 2006)
AwardsFull list
Musical career
OriginCaboolture, Queensland, Australia
Formerly ofThe Ranch

Urban has released 11 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 ("Start a Band") and the 2008 single "You Look Good in My Shirt". Urban also worked with numerous artists from different music genres, such as Pink, Nelly Furtado, Jason Derulo, Julia Michaels as well as country artists like Dolly Parton, The Chicks, Carrie Underwood, Martina McBride, Eric Church, and Reba McEntire.

In 1991, he released a self-titled debut album, charting four singles in Australia before moving to the United States the next year. He began 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 fellow country artist Rory Gilliatte, earned him his first Grammy Award. 2004's Be Here, his third American album became his highest-selling album, being certified 4× Platinum. Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing was released in 2006, containing "Once in a Lifetime" as well as his second Grammy Award-winning 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 the album Fuse, which produced four more number ones on the Country Airplay chart. "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16" was released in June 2015[8] as the lead single of his eighth American studio album, Ripcord. Later the album 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 atop the chart. His tenth album, Graffiti U, was released in 2018 and includes the Top 10 hit "Coming Home". His eleventh album The Speed of Now Part 1 was released in 2020 and includes the global hit "One Too Many" with Pink, in addition to Country Airplay top ten hits "We Were" and "God Whispered Your Name".

Urban was a coach on the Australian version of the singing competition The Voice and a judge on American Idol. In October 2013, he introduced his own signature line of guitars and accessories.

Early life edit

Urban was born on 26 October 1967 in Whangārei, New Zealand.[1] He is the youngest son of Marienne and Robert "Bob" Urbahn (Urbański).[3] At two years of age, Urban moved with his parents to Caboolture, Queensland in Australia.[9] Expressing an early interest in music, at four he was given a ukulele, and at six he took up the guitar. From an early age Urban's influences reflected the tastes of his parents, who enjoyed country music.[10] His father owned a convenience store and put an ad for a guitar teacher in his shop window,[11] which led to his taking guitar lessons from Sue McCarthy.[12] He entered local competitions and acted in a local theatre company.[1] Urban has said that his guitar playing was influenced by two rock guitarists, Mark Knopfler (Dire Straits) and Lindsey Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac).

In 1983, Urban was a contestant on the Australian TV talent show New Faces.[13] 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 Jenny Wilson, a girl from Brisbane. 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', which performed during school holidays at various venues and made appearances on the Reg Lindsey show and Conway Country.

Musical career edit

1990–1998: early years edit

In 1990, Urban signed with EMI in Australia and released his self-titled debut album.[1] 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.[14] 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.[15] He also sang backing vocals on INXS's 1991 single "Shining Star".[16]

Urban moved to Nashville in 1992. The next year, he appeared in the music video for Alan Jackson's rendition of "Mercury Blues".[17] He and Vernon Rust co-wrote "Jesus Gets Jealous of Santa Claus" on Toby Keith's 1995 album Christmas to Christmas,[18] 4 Runner's 1996 single "That Was Him (This Is Now)",[19] he played guitar on Garth Brooks' album Double Live (Garth Brooks album) and "Tangled Up in Love" on the Raybon Brothers' 1997 self-titled album.[20] In 1997, he formed a band known as The Ranch, which included drummer Peter Clarke and bassist Jerry Flowers. The Ranch released a 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".[21] Throughout the late 1990s, Urban also played guitar on several other artists' albums, such as Paul Jefferson,[22] Tim Wilson, and Charlie Daniels.

1999–2006: Keith Urban, Golden Road and Be Here edit

Urban 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.[23] 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".[24]

Urban in 2005

Urban released a 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.[25] 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.[26] 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.[27] In 2002, Urban posed nude for Playgirl. On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, he said that he regretted posing nude despite not showing any full frontal nudity.[28]

In 2004, Urban performed "Lights on the Hill" at the Tamworth tribute concert following the death of Australian country singer Slim Dusty, an artist whom he had both written for and covered.[29][30]

In 2005, Urban performed in front of European audiences for the first time. In May, he supported Bryan Adams on his UK and Ireland tour, which included dates at Earls Court, London, Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, 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. On 22 September 2005, Urban's third studio album, Golden Road, was certified triple platinum, for sales of three million copies.[31] "You Look Good in My Shirt" was originally intended to be the fifth single from this album.[32] 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[33] and remained a fan favourite.[32] 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[34] and Crowell's side project The Notorious Cherry Bombs.[35] 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.[33]

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.[36] Despite the high debut, the song peaked at number 6.[27] 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.[27] The album's next two singles, "I Told You So" and "Everybody", respectively peaked at numbers two and five.[27] Urban released his first greatest hits collection Greatest Hits: 18 Kids on 20 November 2007. The compilation contains all of his Top 10 hits, along with two new songs, "Got It Right This Time (The Celebration) and a cover of Steve Forbert's "Romeo's Tune"."

2007–2009: Love, Pain, & The Whole Crazy Thing, Greatest Hits: 18 Kids and Defying Gravity edit

Urban performs in 2007

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.

Urban announced that the lead single for his fifth studio album would be titled "Sweet Thing". This song became his tenth number one hit. Capitol Records released the album, Defying Gravity, on 31 March 2009. The second single, "Kiss a Girl",[37] 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,[26] 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 eighth annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.

2010–2017: Get Closer, Fuse and Ripcord edit

In May 2010, Urban entered the studio to begin work on a new album.[38] 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.[39] 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 are 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 organised. He was inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on 21 April 2012.[40]

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.

Urban performing at Darien Lake east of Buffalo, New York on 25 July 2014

On 13 May 2013, Urban released the single "Little Bit of Everything", produced by Nathan Chapman.[41] It was the first single from his eighth studio album, Fuse, which was released on 10 September 2013.[42] 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.[43][44] 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.

In June 2015, Urban released "John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16", as the lead single to his eighth American studio album, Ripcord.[45] 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 tenth anniversary of his third studio album Golden Road being certified triple platinum, for sales of three million copies of his record.[46] "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.[47]

2017–present: Graffiti U and The Speed of Now Part 1 edit

On 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 was the lead single for Urban's tenth studio album.[48]

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.[49] On 19 January, the Ed Sheeran co-written song "Parallel Line" was released as a single in Australia and the United Kingdom.[50] 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.[51] As well as Julia Michaels, the album also features duets with Lindsay Ell, Shy Carter, and Kassi Ashton.[52] Never Comin’ Down was released to radio as the fourth single in August 2018.[53]

On 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.[54] The track was co-written by Eric Church.[55] On 24 November 2019, Urban played the halftime show at the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup championship in Calgary.[56][57] On 27 February 2020, Urban released the single, "God Whispered Your Name" to country radio.[58] The track was co-written by contemporary Christian artist Chris August.[59] On 24 April, Urban released the single, "Polaroid" to radio in Australia and the United Kingdom.[60][61][62][63]

In May 2020, Keith Urban hosted a drive-in concert for medical workers. His latest gig was mostly just him and two other musicians playing on a flatbed truck in front of about 125 cars. Urban played at the Stardust Drive-In movie theatre, about 60 km east of Nashville, Tennessee, for a crowd of more than 200 medical workers from Vanderbilt Health.[64] Later in May 2020, Urban announced his eleventh studio album, The Speed of Now Part 1, would be released on 18 September 2020.[65][66][67] In July 2020, Urban released another promotional single, "Superman",[68] which was released to radio in Australia.[69] "Change Your Mind" followed in August 2020.[70]

In the week prior to the album's release, Urban hosted the rescheduled 55th Academy of Country Music Awards and premiered the third North American single off the album, "One Too Many" with Pink,[71] which would become Urban's first Top 10 all-genre song in his homeland of Australia.[72] In December 2020, Urban was listed at number 29 in Rolling Stone Australia's "50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time" issue.[73] He is a featured artist on Taylor Swift's track "That's When" from Fearless (Taylor's Version), Swift's first re-recorded studio album, which was released on 9 April 2021. "That's When" is one of six "from the Vault" tracks that did not make the 2008 album.[74] That year he also collaborated with Amy Shark on "Love Songs Ain't For Us", which also came out 2021.[75][76]

In August 2021, Urban released the single "Wild Hearts",[77][78] which he followed up with the single "Nightfalls" in March 2022.[79][80] In July 2022, Urban released the single "Brown Eyes Baby," which was co-written by Morgan Wallen.[81] He embarked on his headlining "The Speed of Now World Tour" in June 2022, with Ingrid Andress as his opening act.[82] In October 2022, he released the single "Street Called Main".[83]

In 2024, Urban released the singles "Straight Line" and "Messed Up as Me", and announced he will release his twelfth studio album later in the year.[84][85]

Television and film appearances edit

The Voice edit

On 23 November 2011, Urban was confirmed as one of the four vocal coaches in the Australian version of the reality singing competition The Voice,[86] alongside Seal, Joel Madden, and Delta Goodrem. On 14 September 2012, Urban released a statement that he would not be signing back on for season two and was replaced by Ricky Martin.[87] On 15 December 2020, it was announced that Urban would return to The Voice Australia season 10 for his second season replacing Boy George, alongside Jessica Mauboy, Guy Sebastian, and Rita Ora.[88][89][90] All judges returned for the eleventh season in 2022.[91] However, in October 2022, it was announced that Urban would not be returning to the big red chair for the twelfth season in 2023 due to his upcoming tour.[92]

American Idol edit

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.[93] On 1 August 2013, it was officially confirmed that Urban would return as a judge for season 13.[94][95][96] 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.[97] Urban returned to judge the 15th season of American Idol in 2016.[98]

Slim and I edit

Urban features in the 2020 Australian documentary film Slim and I, directed by Kriv Stenders, talking about the influence on his life of acclaimed Australian country music husband-and-wife duo Slim Dusty and Joy McKean. The film features interviews and covers of McKean songs by acclaimed contemporary artists including Urban (Lights on the Hill), Missy Higgins, Paul Kelly, and Troy Cassar-Daley.[99][100]

Signature guitar line edit

In October 2013, during a concert in Tampa, Florida, Urban announced that he would sell 'signature' guitars and accessories through Home Shopping Network (HSN).[101] HSN offered the guitar packages twice in six months, resulting in 42,000 sales.[102][103]

A portion of the proceeds benefit The Mr. Holland's Opus Foundation and the Grammy Foundation.[101]

Personal life edit

Urban with wife Nicole Kidman at the 2009 American Music Awards

Urban is a citizen of both Australia and the United States.[104]

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 2 February 2007, Urban filed a lawsuit against a New Jersey painter with the same name, who has a website called Keith Urban, the singer, wanted to acquire the rights to the site.[105] The painter counter-sued.[106] The lawsuit was settled in the painter's favour.

On 7 January 2008, Kidman said that 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. 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."[107][108]

On 28 December 2010, Urban and Kidman had a second daughter, Faith Margaret Kidman Urban, by gestational surrogacy at Nashville's Centennial Women's Hospital.[109]

Substance use and recovery edit

In his past Urban has struggled with alcoholism and cocaine addiction.[110] The singer described the late 1990s as a time when he was heavily using substances.[111] In 1998, he checked into Cumberland Heights, a treatment centre in Nashville.[112] On 19 October 2006, Urban checked into the Betty Ford Center in Rancho Mirage, California. On 20 October, he released 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 he had completed rehab and his plans to go on tour to promote his album, Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing.[113]

Discography edit

Studio albums

Filmography edit

Tours edit

Keith Urban in concert in 2007

Headlining tours


  • A.C.M Presents : Keith Urban & Rory Gilliatte '6 String Bandits' Tour (2008)
  • Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Carnival Ride Tour (2008) co-headlined with Carrie Underwood

Supporting tours


  • Keith Urban the Las Vegas Residency (2023)
  • High in Vegas (2024–25)[115]

Awards and honours edit

Urban was appointed Officer of the Order of Australia at the 2020 Australia Day Honours for "distinguished service to the performing arts as a singer and songwriter, and to charitable organisations".[116]

Urban was named the 241st greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone in 2023.[117]

References edit

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  4. ^ Apter, Jeff (2 May 2009). "Life's a sweet thing". NZ Herald. Retrieved 16 September 2020. Yet it was in Whangarei that Keith Lionel Urbahn entered the world, kicking and screaming, on October 26, 1967. ... Keith shed that bothersome "h" on the road somewhere between Whangarei and Nashville.
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