Keith Urban decided to pursue a solo career in the late 1990s. In 2000, he released his first, self-titled solo album. In 2001, he was named the CMA's "Top New Male Vocalist." He toured in 2004, and was named CMA's "Entertainer of the Year" the following year. Urban won his first Grammy Award in 2006, and went on to receive three more Grammys. In 2012, Urban was chosen as a new judge for season 12 of the popular singing-competition show American Idol, which premiered in 2013.
Keith Lionel Urban was born on October 26, 1967, in Whangarei, North Island, New Zealand, and raised in Australia. The musician inherited a passion for American country music from his parents.
By the time he was a teenager, Keith Urban had won several talent shows and joined a country band. His signature style—a mix of rock guitar and country sound—emerged during those formative years. In 1988, he debuted his first album, which enjoyed success in his native Australia. It was time to cut his teeth in Nashville.
Success in Nashville
Urban's first Nashville band, the Ranch, made a huge splash, and the group released a self-titled debut album in 1997 to commercial acclaim. Shortly thereafter, Urban decided to leave the band to pursue a solo career. His talents were quickly recruited by some of the biggest names in country music, including Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks.
In 2000, Urban released his first self-titled solo album, which featured the No. 1 hit "But for the Grace of God." His second album, 2002's Golden Road, included two more No. 1 singles: "Somebody Like You" and "Who Wouldn't Want to Be Me." In 2001, he was named "Top New Male Vocalist" at the Country Music Association Awards.
After touring with the likes of Brooks & Dunn and Kenny Chesney, Urban headlined his own tour in 2004. The following year, he was named the CMA's "Entertainer of the Year," "Male Vocalist of the Year" and "International Artist of the Year." In early 2006, Urban won his first Grammy Award (best male country vocal performance) for "You'll Think of Me." Also in 2006, he was received the CMA's "Male Vocalist of the Year" and the Academy of Country Music's "Top Male Vocalist" honors.
In June 2006, Urban married actress Nicole Kidman in their native Australia.
Urban's next album, Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing, was released in the fall of 2006. Around the same time, the musician voluntarily checked himself into a rehabilitation facility. "I deeply regret the hurt this has caused Nicole and the ones that love and support me," Urban said in a statement, according to People magazine. "One can never let one's guard down on recovery, and I'm afraid that I have. With the strength and unwavering support I am blessed to have from my wife, family and friends, I am determined and resolved to a positive outcome."
While struggling personally, Urban continued to thrive professionally. His 2006 album spawned several hits, including "Once in a Lifetime" and "Stupid Boy," which won a Grammy for best male country vocal performance in 2008.
Later in 2008, Urban released a greatest hits collection and toured extensively. That summer, however, he took a break from his hectic schedule to celebrate a joyous event: He and wife Nicole Kidman welcomed a baby girl on July 7, 2008, and named her Sunday Rose Kidman Urban. "We want to thank everybody that has kept us in their thoughts and prayers," Urban wrote on his website shortly after Sunday Rose's birth. "We feel very blessed and grateful that we can share this joy with all of you today."
Urban continued his string of hits with another album, Defying Gravity, which was released in March 2009 and debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200—his first album to do so. The lead single off the album, "Sweet Thing," immediately hit No. 1 on the Billboard charts. The album's second single, "Kiss a Girl," was performed during the season 8 finale of the singing-competition show American Idol, as a duet with the show's winner, Kris Allen.
In the fall of 2009, Urban performed at the CMA Awards and received several honors for his collaborative effort with country artist Brad Paisely: "Start a Band." He was also named country music's "Favorite Male Artist" at the American Music Awards. In 2010, Urban received his third Grammy Award (best male country vocal performance), for the song "Sweet Thing." He nabbed his fourth Grammy (best male country vocal performance) the following year, for the single "'Til Summer Comes Around."
In 2012, Urban was chosen as a new judge for season 12 of American Idol, premiering in January 2013. Urban starred alongside Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj in his debut season on the show. More recently, he has worked alongside Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr. to help find the country's best performers.
Away from American Idol, Urban has maintained his own career as one of country music's most popular stars. He released Fuse in 2013, which included "We Were Us," a duet with Miranda Lambert. "Cop Car" and "Somewhere In My Car" were two other successful songs from this album.
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