Australian country music star Keith Urban has a much more culturally fluid background than many people would think. His genre of music tends to make people assume that he was born and raised in the southern parts of the U.S.A., but that could not be further from the truth.
Urban’s early life
Keith Urban was born in Whangarei, North Island, New Zealand to his parents Marienne and Robert Urban. Shortly after his birth, his family moved to Caboolture, Queensland, Australia to start a new and more prosperous life.
Urban’s parents share the same passport country of New Zealand. Because of this, Urban is considered to be a Third Culture Kid by its definition that a TCK is, “an individual who, having spent a significant part of the development years in a culture other than the parents’ culture, develops a sense of relationship to all of the cultures while not having a full ownership in any.” Urban spent all of his developmental years in a culture that he did not share with his parents and because of this he was able to experience the culture that his parents taught him from New Zealand along with the culture he was surrounded with in Australia.
His culturally fluid life continues
During Urban’s teenage years, he discovered his passion for the genre of country music. This passion stemmed from his father’s love of the U.S.’s style of country music. Urban put his own Australian twist on the genre by mixing rock guitar and country sounds. This new form of country music earned him multiple talent show awards and even a spot in a band. He and the band also debuted their first album in 1997 but shortly after Urban decided to pursue a solo career.
In 1999, Urban decided to leave Australia and progress his singing career by moving to Nashville, Tennessee in the U.S.A. Urban said:
My goal was always to get to Nashville. And I sort of made the decision that I could stay in Australia and keep building my career. But the minute you go to Nashville, you start all over again anyway. So if I’m going to starve, and pay my dues in Nashville, let’s go. Let’s start it now and not in five or 10 years.
This last move from Australia to the U.S.A. also makes Urban a Third Culture Adult. Not only did he spend his developmental years in a country outside of his parents’ passport country but he also moved out of the only country he ever knew while in his 20s. He moved in order to pursue his music career. Urban knew that it would take off if he moved to the country music capital of the world.
Urban is a TCK and a TCA
Keith Urban is more culturally fluid than the genre of music he plays would make him appear. Urban is a TCK and a TCA and this has added to the way he easily adapts into new cultures. He accepts change with open arms and has been lucky enough to experience New Zealand, Australia, and U.S. cultures while following his musical dreams. Having done this for the past 50 years, he uses the multiple cultures he has been immersed in to create a unique sound and that is what separates him from all other country artists.
Very interesting article. It is always interesting to learn about the different cultural fluidity that takes place around us. Keith Urban was not on my radar for cultural fluidity, but after reading this article, it is really cool to see where Keith Urban has come from and the different cultures he has surrounded himself with throughout the years. I liked what Urban had to say about how he is not afraid of immersing himself in new cultures and that he is open to changes and differences and I do believe that is rooted in him from a very young age of moving to different countries. Great article with great information on such a well known name here in the United States.
I really enjoyed this article as I never knew Keith Urban is considered a TCK/TCA. I always thought he grew up in the USA and never had any other background besides that, but is awesome to learn he has a completely different background from what I assumed. Following his life story now makes his background that much more meaningful and all the awards he has won just that sweeter.
As a life-long country music fan, I have grown up listening to Keith Urban’s music. I remember, as a child, the first time I heard him speak in an interview. I was so confused by his accent, because he truly fit the stereotype of an American country music artist. After learning that he was from New Zealand, I found his music even more appealing because I was finally able to realize the subtle differences that he brought to the genre to make it his own. This article is the first that I’ve ever heard of him growing up in Australia, though! Very cool to learn that Keith Urban is a TCK and TCA.
Country is not a genre I anticipated an artist expressing cultural fluidity in. Keith Urban demonstrated this by being from New Zealand and embracing country culture and becoming an artist in that genre. Simply glancing over his artist page, one would never guess he is originally from New Zealand, which is what being a TCK is all about, using your cultural diversity to grow and improve in your field and doing it so well that people wouldn’t even be able to guess where you’re from because your behavior is so culturally fluid.
I grew up listening to country music and never did I realize that Keith Urban was from New Zealand! This article does a great job with explaining Urban’s background and relate it to being a TCK and TCA. It really shows how he was able to culturally adapt so easily. This article is enjoyable to read and learn more about a Country music house hold name.
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