Also Credited As:Keith Lionel Urban
|Keith Lionel Urban on October 26, 1967 in Whangarei, North Island, , NZ|
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Keith Lionel Urban was born on Oct. 26, 1967 in Whangarei, North Island, New Zealand and raised in Queensland, Australia. The future country star learned to play the guitar at six and won various talent competitions while attending elementary school. Urban honed his performing skills as a member of a local theater company called the Westfield Super Juniors. His father, who owned a convenience store, influenced Urban's music taste by exposing him to the work of American country legends such as Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton and Don Williams. Urban's love for guitar-driven rock also turned him on to the music of British band Dire Straits and its lead guitarist Mark Knopfler. After signing with EMI Records, Urban released his self-titled solo debut in 1991, which spawned four country No. 1 hits in Australia, New Zealand and Germany. He picked up his guitar and moved to Nashville, TN the following year, landing a job as a guitarist for artists such as Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson. With his feet firmly planted in Nashville's music scene, Urban formed the country trio The Ranch along with Jerry Flowers and Peter Clarke. The group's 1997 self-titled debut yielded two minor hits with "Walkin' the Country" and "Just Some Love," while the album peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard Top Country Albums chart.
Not long after the album's release, however, Urban developed throat problems that forced him to take a vocal rest. The singer also battled a cocaine addiction, which he developed when he first moved to the States, before checking into the Cumberland Heights Treatment Center in Nashville. Urban decided to disband The Ranch in 1998 to pursue a solo career. Urban worked with one of Nashville's top producers, Matt Rollings, to produce his American solo debut. The self-titled 1999 release introduced country fans to Urban's talent as a singer and songwriter. His single "But for the Grace of God" topped the Billboard Country Songs chart and helped the album sell over a million copies. The album also charted the singles "Where the Blacktop Ends" and "Your Everything." Audiences fell in love with Urban's onstage swagger, while he supported the album by touring with major country acts such as Dwight Yoakam, Faith Hill and Tim McGraw. The hunky singer also won raves from female fans for posing nude with a strategically placed guitar in the April 2001 issue of Playgirl magazine. Urban's sophomore release Golden Road (2002) eclipsed the success of his previous album with the No. 1 hits "Somebody Like You," "Who Wouldn't Wanna Be Me?" and "You'll Think of Me." Country Music Television (CMT) sponsored Urban's first headlining tour titled "Keith Urban Be Here '04" in support of his quadruple platinum-selling album Be Here (2004). That same year, Urban became the first New Zealand-born artist to win the Country Music Association (CMA) Male Vocalist of the Year award. He went on to win the CMA Entertainer of the Year trophy in 2005 for his greatest hits compilation, Days Go By.
The media had a field day after Urban, who was by now a full-blown country superstar, began dating Academy Award-winning actress and fellow Australian Nicole Kidman. The couple first met in Los Angeles during a dinner that honored famous Australians. Kidman accompanied Urban during his "Alive in '05" tour and by November of 2005, the actress was photographed with a ring on her finger. They attended their first major event as a couple at the 2006 Grammy Awards, where Urban picked up a Grammy for Best Male Vocal Country Performance for "You'll Think of Me." Urban and Kidman said their "I dos" in June 2006 at Cardinal Cerretti Memorial Chapel in Sydney, Australia. Their wedding guests included actors Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Naomi Watts as well as filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. Kidman was by his side when Urban checked himself into a Los Angeles rehabilitation center a few months later. The singer told People magazine that his wife and his music helped him survive the toughest year of his life. In July 2007, after years of struggling to have a baby, Kidman gave birth to their first child Sunday Rose. In 2009, Urban's fifth studio album Defying Gravity landed at the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart. It was the singer's first No. 1 album on the mainstream charts, which signaled his pop crossover. The singer added more Grammys to his repertoire, winning Best Male Vocal Country Performance in 2008 for "Stupid Boy," in 2010 for "Sweet Thing," and in 2011 for "'Til Summer Comes Around." Urban kicked off his worldwide "Get Closer" tour in June 2011 in support of the 2010 album of the same name. In September 2012, Urban was confirmed as the fourth and final judge to join Randy Jackson, Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj for the 12th season of "American Idol" (Fox, 2002- ).