Keith Urban, an Unlikely Country Music Star
As a country music artist, Keith Urban is dripping with irony. Urban is a superstar in one of America’s few original music genres, but he was actually born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia.
And of course the word “urban,” means exactly the opposite of the word “country.”
All ironies aside, Urban is a Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter and guitarist. Known for his unique take on country music, Urban is also one of the foremost guitar players in music today.
Urban began playing guitar at the age of six and by age eight, Urban was winning talent awards. Despite growing up about as far as one can from Nashville (Caboolture, Queensland, Australia), Urban found country music through his father. Some of Urban early influences were Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, and Don Williams.
In 1990, Urban signed with EMI in Australia. He released one very successful self-titled album that produced four number one hits in Australia.
In 1992, Urban moved to Nashville and became a sought-after session musician. He played guitar for such country acts like Brooks and Dunn, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and Charlie Daniels.
In 1997, Urban formed a band called The Ranch with Jerry Flowers on the bass guitar and Peter Clarke on drums. In the same year, the group released one critically acclaimed self titled album.
A song from that album, "Some Days You Gotta Dance," was covered in 1999 by the Dixie Chicks and it featured Urban on guitar.
Urban disbanded The Ranch in 1998 to pursue a solo career. A year later, Urban released his second full length studio album, once again called Keith Urban. This album put four singles in the top 20 of the country music charts, including “But for the Grace of God,” which reached number one.
Since then, Urban has released three more studio albums. All three have won at least double platinum awards and 2004’s Be Here and 2006’s Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing reached number one on the country music charts.
In total, Urban has released nine number one singles and sold over 12 million albums.
In February of 2009, Keith Urban played at the Grammy Awards Show after Rihanna was forced to cancel her appearance. A few weeks later, Urban performed at NASCAR’s premiere event, the Daytona 500.
On March 31st, 2009 Urban is set to release his sixth studio album, Defying Gravity. To support that album, Urban will embark on the Escape Together World Tour in May. The tour will visit 58 cities across North America.
For this tour, Urban has ensured that inexpensive tickets will be available for his fans. Each concert features several seats for only $20 and these tickets are free from transaction fees.
"It's easy to see that people out there are hurting," said Urban. "And if these ticket prices can help some of them to let loose, forget about their daily grind and enjoy a night of music, then that's what we intend to give them and everyone else that comes out to our shows."
Depending on the city, opening acts for Urban are Sugarland, Dierks Bentley, the Zac Brown Band, Lady Antebellum, Jason Aldean and Glen Campbell.
For nine shows, country princess Taylor Swift will open for Urban. The cities featuring Urban and Swift are Cincinnati, Auburn Hills, Fort Wayne, Atlanta, Des Moines, Moline, Boston, Philadelphia, and Kansas City.
Several dates for Urban’s tour have yet to be announced.
While Urban has lowered some of his ticket prices in a reaction to the down economy, Taylor Swift seems to defy our sluggish financial times with record setting album sales.
With combined sales of more than four million, Swift was the biggest selling artist in 2008 in America. She’s the first artist in the history of Nielsen Soundscan to have two different albums in the Top 10 on the year end album chart.
Her 2008 release, Fearless, topped Billboard 200 in eight different weeks, a feat that hadn’t been done by a female artist since 1996 and by any artist since 2004.
Swift also dominates paid music downloads. In 2009, she became the first country artist to top the 2 million mark in paid downloads with three different songs. Swift’s single, "Love Story," is the most paid downloaded song in country music history.
Only 19-years old, Swift meteoric success can be explained by her accessible mix of pop and country music and the fact that she’s drop-dead gorgeous.
Swift writes, or co-writes, all her own music. She possesses wisdom well beyond her years that allows her to connect with both country and pop audiences.
When Swift isn’t opening for Urban, she headlining her own tour. Her Fearless Tour, which features sets she’s designed herself, officially kicks off April 23 in Evansville, Indiana. The tour will have Swift visiting 52 cities in 38 states and provinces in the U.S. and Canada.
Opening for Swift is "American Idol" finalist Kellie Pickler. Swift and Pickler co-wrote a song together called “Best Days of Your Life.” The single is featured on Pickler’s self-titled sophomore album.