Good morning country fans, and happy Monday!
As the new year rolls on our Monday Heroes aren’t slowing down and today we’re tipping our caps to a verified Nashville legend; even twenty years after his first record deal, this country music fan favorite is still frequently releasing new music and topping the charts month in and month out. Despite his unconventional Kiwi background and his atypical journey to the top, this #MondayHero has eighteen number one country hits to his name and has been one of the biggest names in country music over the last two decades. So without further ado, today’s Rhythm and Boots NYC #MondayHero is the affable and charming Keith Urban.
Growing up in one of the northernmost cities of one of the southermost places on Earth, Keith’s musicianship origins sprung far from Nashville, TN. By idolizing 80s American rock musicians, Urban swiftly picked up his stunning guitar skills and began performing cover songs and writing original music in his spare time. After moving from Whangarei, New Zealand to the Queensland region of Australia as a teenager, Urban began competing in country music contests and performing on bigger stages, even winning Australia’s CMA equivalent, a Golden Guitar Award in his twenties.
After experiencing growing success in Australia Urban decided it was time to move to America and try to make it on even larger country stages. Throughout the 90s he lived in Nashville as a songwriter, backup vocalist/instrumentalist, and steady bar performer and even put out his first major record release, the 1991 self-titled album. A few years down the road, he followed up that first major release with a band-backed album called Keith Urban in The Ranch in 1997.
By the turn of the century Urban was on the brink of achieving success across the pond. His next three studio albums (Keith Urban in 1999, Golden Road in 2002, and Be Here in 2004) provided a series of chart-spotting hits and catapulted the Kiwi phenomenon into the American country spotlight. Hits like “Raining on Sunday” and “You Look Good In My Shirt” proved Urban’s versatility, bouncing between the traditional country sounds and his innovative rock-infused country, and his single “Somebody Like You” spent six weeks at number one (and was even voted as #1 Country Song of the Decade by Billboard magazine, selling over one million copies in the US!)
Throughout the first decade of the new millennium, Urban decorated his library with eleven number one singles, and has added ten more since. With his impressive vocal range and smooth, floating voice he offers a softness that many male country singers are incapable of; his vocal talents, combined with his songwriting expertise and mastery of the electric guitar has made him one of the most diverse country artists in the industry. On top of that, his good-hearted attitude and noticeable passion for his music creates an unmatchable energy on stage during his live performances. His eleventh studio album GraffitiU will be coming out this year and he has already announced a ten-month tour, supported by rising country star Kelsea Ballerini.
By 2018, Urban has made waves in not just Nashville, but also in Hollywood and across the globe. Despite a few stints in rehab due to drug abuse, his marriage to Academy Award winning actress Nicole Kidman and tenure as a judge on Fox’s American Idol have established Urban as a household name outside the realm of country music. By being such a recognizable figure in and out of the Nashville scene, Urban has even had the opportunity of inducting others into honorable organizations; just last week he inducted our last #FridayFind, Chris Janson, into the Grand OIe Opry, one of country music’s highest achievements.
Keith Urban’s #FeaturedFour:
- “Female” (2017) – As one of his latest singles, this track provides a specifically picturesque look at the style and personality of Urban’s songwriting. As a husband and father of two girls, Urban (along with songwriting partners Nicolle Galyon and Ross Copperman) shows the strength and positivity that relate to femininity. At at time when harassment is noticeably pervasive in show business, this song serves as a powerful reminder that harmony, coexistence, and respect are what make the world go around. Musically, the style is characteristically Urban — slow, thoughtful vocals with a soft harmony for support.
- “Red Camaro” (2013) – Jumping back a bit, this radio hit shows how lively Urban’s love songs can be. A country roadtrip necessity, this song is gospel for windows-down highway cruising and can act as the bright spark you need to liven up your mood. We’re still waiting on a music video for this one featuring Urban and Kidman driving off into the sunset but for now, music video or not, this is one of his best songs.
- “Making Memories of Us” (2004) – Another slower ballad, this song is love in musical form. Even before his marriage to Nicole, Keith was clearly a passion-filled musician, waiting on the woman of his dreams. With the riding snare drum and blissful piano support, this song fits perfectly on your Valentine’s Day Dinner Playlist.
- “Somebody Like You” (2002) – For obvious reasons, this song had to be included in the Featured Four. In addition to being one of Urban’s biggest and most popular songs to date, this song was hit first breakthrough smashhit and is directly reflective of his trademark style. From the banjo introduction to the electric-guitar backed chorus, Urban flawlessly blends traditional country styles with modern instruments, making him one of the most iconic artists of modern country music.
Check out Keith Urban’s pages here:
See you Friday! (And tune in this Wednesday for a special R&B NYC Valentine’s Day country playlist!)
– R&B NYC