Keith Urban and His Unusual Place in Nashville Before Making It Big

Keith Urban (By Craig ONeal - Keith Urban World Tour, CC BY-SA 2.0)

Before Keith Urban landed a Capital Records deal and the respect of the country music world, he had to face a lot of perplexity.

Cowboy boots and guitar. He is resting.
Photo via Envato Elements.

As Nashville was the hub for country music, Urban’s Australian accent stuck out like a sore thumb. This surfer boy had the voice and musical capability to turn heads. Yet, he didn’t play traditional country music or, as he says himself in a 60 Minutes Australia interview, “He does not wear the hat of a cowboy.”

Many people didn’t understand Urban’s style as his music was seemingly catchy, but was a new touch on the genre of country. He appeared like a rockstar, strutting longer blonde locks and a sleeve of tattoos.

But, when you listen to his music, you can hear the slight twang that flows naturally in his voice. There’s no doubt that this Cross-Cultural Kid (CCK) has redefined traditional ideals of the music business.


Photo via Envato Elements

Urban initially rose to fame in Australia, establishing himself as an artist through television. He had his sights set on success and eventually dropped out of high school. With this extra time, he enrolled in multiple singing competitions.

At the age of 23, Urban won a show called “Star Maker” based in Australia, which led to a contract. But while he had the support of his country and his family, Nashville was an entirely different story.

Urban used his experience of performing in beach side pubs and bars to immerse himself in the country scene. Although he wasn’t the typical artist found in Nashville, he had one gift that set him apart: His ability to play radical guitar.

Keith Urban (By Craig ONeal - Keith Urban World Tour, CC BY-SA 2.0)
Keith Urban (Photo By Craig ONeal – Keith Urban World Tour, CC BY-SA 2.0)

For years, Urban played as the background guitarist for other artists and adapted to the “cowboy culture.” Eventually, he would work toward his solo career by releasing his first independent demo in 1999. This demo would include many of his most famous songs, sending him straight into U.S. fame.


Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban (By Galeria de burningkarma - Flickr, CC BY 2.0)
Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban (By Galeria de burningkarma – Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Urban is known as “America’s favorite adopted son,” given he has made such a positive impact in musical language. However, he dealt with many demons in his transition to stardom.

This culture shock and fame took a toll on his mental health, resulting in the abuse of many drugs. The “guitar wonder from down under” overcame this struggle and found a new life with his current wife Nichole Kidman.

They made the decision, as a family, to move back to Australia as it is where Urban felt the most at home. But, his successful career reflects one very clear message: It’s often those who don’t mold into anyone’s expectations who become one of the greats.

Keith Urban continues to demonstrate his cultural mobility by touring around the world. No destination is too far out of reach for his country music style. He is an artist for all the people!

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