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Although born in New Zealand and raised in nearby Australia, Keith Urban made his biggest splash in Nashville, where he helped rewrite the rules of contemporary country music. By embracing drum loops and elements of Top 40 pop, Urban wrote songs that appealed to a wide audience, effectively satisfying his Nashville fans without alienating those more accustomed to pop music. He also became a genuine celebrity, known for his good looks, marriage to Nicole Kidman, and outspoken battle with alcoholism. Even so, it was the music that maintained Urban's career, from his work with the Ranch during the late '90s to the acclaimed solo albums that followed.
Keith Urban began learning guitar as a six-year-old. His father, the owner of a local convenience store, agreed to hang a guitar teacher's flyer in his shop window in exchange for free lessons. The lessons went to his son, who demonstrated natural talent on the instrument and won several talent competitions while still in thumb|300px|right|Keith Urban - Without Youelementary school. Urban grew comfortable on-stage, and he worked on his singing and acting abilities as a member of the Westfield Super Juniors, a local theater company. Meanwhile, he took a cue from his father (who had a deep interest in American culture and country music) by gravitating toward the work of Glen Campbell, Dolly Parton, Don Williams, and Jimmy Webb, all of whom inspired his early attempts at songwriting. Urban added his own dimension to those influences when he discovered Dire Straits and became interested in the fretwork of Mark Knopfler, which led to in-depth study of Knopfler's technique.
Australian country music was primed for a revolution at the start of the '90s, and Keith Urban -- young, brash, and blonde, with a guitar style that owed heavily to rock & roll -- was part of that transformation. After signing thumb|300px|right|Keith Urban - 'Til Summer Comes Aroundwith the Australian branch of EMI Records, he issued his first album and scored several number one hits in his home country. Even so, Urban's sights remained on Nashville, TN, which he considered to be the birthplace of the music he loved. Having already taken trips to Nashville to forge career bridges, he soon decided to base himself in the city. His Australian bandmate, drummer Peter Clarke, also came along, and the two formed the Ranch during their first few months in America. Although their original bass player returned to Australia, West Virginian Jerry Flowers quickly stepped in.
The Ranch's music was raw and rowdy, more indicative of Australian pub rock than Nashville's country scene. Nevertheless, the band netted a record deal with Capitol Nashville and a management contract with Miles Copeland, who had previously managed the Police. The group's debut album, The Ranch, was released to moderate acclaim in 1997, but Urban was forced to take a break when he developed throat problems, and the Ranch disbanded soon after. While Urban remained on vocal rest, other artists called upon him to play guitar thumb|300px|right|Keith Urban - Kiss A Girlon their records. Garth Brooks asked Urban to perform on Double Live, the Dixie Chicks invited him to play on their second album (which featured a reworked version of "Some Days You Gotta Dance," a song that also appeared on the Ranch's debut), and Matt Rollings -- one of Nashville's top producers -- hired Urban as a session player for his latest album. The two quickly clicked.
Impressed with Rollings' knowledge of Nashville's session players, Urban asked him to produce his next solo record. Released in 1999, the self-titled Keith Urban spawned four hit singles and paved the way for his successful career in America. It is Keith's only album not to beproduced by Dann Huff, who has produced all of his albums since. A tour in support of that album saw Urban opening for major acts like Dwight Yoakam, Faith Hill, and Tim McGraw, as well as headlining his own shows. Urban found more success with 2002's Golden Road, his first album to be produced by Dann, which sent three singles to the top of the country charts and went triple platinum in the U.S., as well as 2004's Be Here, which bested the feats of its predecessor by selling over four million copies. The album is not only Keith's best-selling album, but also one of the best-selling albums in America by an Australian artist. Keith Urban was now a contemporary country superstar, replete with Grammy nominations and paparazzi attention, and his label capitalized on that attention by reissuing the Ranch's debut album later that year. An anthology of Urban's work, Days Go By, followed in 2005. thumb|300px|right|Keith Urban - Long Hot Summer
The next year, Urban continued to attract media attention with his highly publicized engagement (and June marriage) to fellow Australian Nicole Kidman, plus his voluntary entry into a rehabilitation center for alcohol abuse. He postponed all his upcoming promotional appearances while in treatment, although the album Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing was released in November as scheduled. It failed to produce a number one hit (the first of Urban's solo albums to do so), but Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing still went double platinum in America, aided in part by a successful tour with Carrie Underwood.
Urban returned to the top of the charts in 2008 with a re-recorded version of "You Look Good in My Shirt," which had originally appeared on 2002's Golden Road. The new version appeared on his latest compilation thumb|300px|right|Keith Urban - Sweet Thingrecord, Greatest Hits, and its success helped pave the way for Urban's next solo album. Released in 2009, Defying Gravity found him singing about life with Nicole Kidman on songs like "Sweet Thing" and "Only You Can Love Me This Way," both of which peaked at number one. Meanwhile, "Kiss a Girl" became his highest-charting single to date on the pop charts, and two additional tunes -- "'Til Summer Comes Around" and "I'm In" -- both charted well in the country market, making Defying Gravity a crossover success.
Nearly three years had passed between the release of Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing and Defying Gravity. Urban worked quickly on his next album, though, releasing Get Closer during the final months of 2010 and returning to the charts with its lead single, "Put You in a Song." The second single from the album, "Without You," scored a No. 1. In 2011, Urban earned a male country vocalithumb|300px|right|Keith Urban - Somebody Like Youst performance Grammy for "'Til Summer Comes Around" and later that year launched his Get Closer tour. This was Keith's first album not to go Platinum. It is also Keith's first album not to have a Top 40 hit on the pop chart. Urban launched his own men's fragrance called 'Phoenix' in 2011, named after the phoenix tattoo on his left arm.
"I've always loved symbolism and mythology, the symbolism of the phoenix being something that succumbs to the challenges and burns in the fire, but then is resurrected from the ashes and rises up even stronger than before," Keith said. "The 'what doesn't kill you makes you stronger' story of the phoenix is something else that I think fits really well with a man's cologne. I can relate very strongly to that, going through hard times and coming out the other end of it much stronger for the experience."
Describing the scent as "not too rugged and not too soft," the notoriously humble Keith also thought it was important not to just name it after himself. "The last thing I want to make a man do is, when someone asks him what he's wearing, is for that poor man to say, 'I'm wearing Keith Urban.' That just seems really awkward to me. I wanted to allow a man the dignity to respond with something that is a little more appropriate. Not too hoity-toity, not too chic thumb|300px|right|Keith Urban - Only You Can Love me This Wayand metro, something that's got a nice, masculine simplicity to it. I felt Phoenix fit that really well."
The bottle, which features an etch of the phoenix design, retails for $35. You can pre-order Phoenix on Keith's website, which details it as "a profoundly rich, masculine scent ... infused with blackberries, cognac and plum and can be described as having a 'woody oriental' fragrance."
Keith is in good aromatic company, as many of his famous friends have their own colognes and perfumes, as well. Tim McGraw has an entire line of fragrances, as does his wife Faith Hill, Taylor Swift and Shania Twain.
Keith scored yet another number one hit in October when "Long Hot Summer" reached the top of Billboard's country songs chart.
In November 2011, Urban announced he would undergo throat surgery to have a polyp removed. "The success of this kind of surgery is much greater than before. I'm hoping I can continue that tradition. At some point in the tour, I hemorrhaged into a vocal cord, and this little polyp formed, and it's not going anywhere. So we have to have it removed. I think it's less dangerous now since the Julie Andrews debacle years ago," Keith said. He is expected to make a full recovery after the surgery.
Urban announced the "Get Closer – World Tour 2011", an Australian, American and Canadian tour in support of the album. His American tour features country artist Jake Owen supporting. The Canadian leg features The Band Perry as the opening act.
For Keith Urban’s sixth studio album, Get Closer, the singer-songwriter dives even deeper into the explorations of love and relationships that have established him as one of the world's biggest country music stars—while also extending his rock & roll side, as his hard-charging guitar work reaches new heights. The album is the follow-up to 2009's Grammy-winning and platinum selling Defying Gravity, which entered Billboard's pop and country charts at Number One, and spun off five Top Ten hits, including the chart-toppers "Sweet Thing" and "Only You Can Love Me This Way."
For Urban, the songs on the new album build on ideas that he introduced the last time around. "On Defying Gravity I started touching upon the theme of the courage to love," he says. "It’s all well and good to say, 'I thumb|300px|right|Keith Urban - You'll Think of Mecan’t find anybody to love, I wish I could find someone to love.' But do I have the courage to love? Am I willing to open my heart and give the sword to my partner and go, 'All right, I trust you, absolutely and completely?' ”
The ambition for Get Closer is made explicit right on the cover. "The title is multifaceted," says Urban, "because my instincts have always been to run from things that are good for me, to run from love. I have always run from intimacy, and marriage has been a real awakening for me in looking at that very differently. That’s what the title really refers to."
New Zealand-born and Australia-raised, Keith Urban moved to Nashville in 1992. His first American album came as a member of The Ranch (1997), followed by an increasingly accomplished series of multi Platinum-selling solo albums: Keith Urban (1999), Golden Road (2002), Be Here (2004), and Love, Pain & the whole crazy thing (2006). The compilation Greatest Hits: 19 Kids (2008) included such Number One hits as “But For The Grace Of God,” “Somebody Like You” (which was named the top country song of the decade), “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me,” “You’ll Think Of Me,” “Days Go By,” “Making Memories Of Us,” “Better Life,” and “You Look Good In My Shirt.”
Urban has been honored with Grammy Awards, Country Music Association Awards, Academy of County Music thumb|300px|right|Keith Urban - You Gonna FlyAwards, a People’s Choice Award, American Music Award and Australia’s coveted Aria Award. His remarkable musical gifts have also brought him to places where country superstars have rarely gone before, including such very recent appearances as a blazing rendition of the Rolling Stones' classic "Tumblin' Dice" on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, a powerful rendition of "Lean on Me" alongside Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow on the Hope for Haiti telethon and a CMT Crossroads taping with John Mayer.
Yet as Get Closer illustrates, rather than rely on formula, Urban continues to innovate with his music. The sound of the album expands the contrast between old and new styles that has underpinned much of his previous work. "I love using drum machines when I write," he says, " and I love the juxtaposition of a great, funky '80s drum machine with a banjo. Merging those instruments together was something I was really drawn to—we got to a certain point on the record, but I’d like to keep exploring it more."
Some of the sonic experimentation, though, was the result of more than just creative ambition. "I used a lot of new guitars this time, because all of mine got lost in the (middle Tennessee) flood," says Urban. "It was a real blessing in the end, because it got me out of my comfort zone, and I was really focused on making music, and not what we were making it with. I borrowed a few guitars, bought a couple of amps on eBay, and just sort of embraced it—that whatever we’ve got to work with, we’re gonna make it work."
Produced with long-time collaborator Dann Huff, Get Closer blends such chugging rockers as "Long Hot Summer" or the first single, "Put You in a Song," with more emotionally complex and nuanced compositions like "Right on Back to You" and “Luxury of Knowing.”* Urban considers "Luxury," written by Lori McKenna, an especially rich selection. "I love that song, because it’s written from such a unique, open-ended, unsettling place," he says. "I look for songs that people are going to feel something towards—like, 'I’m not in that place now, but I’ve very much been in that place.' I’m trying to find those songs that connect with people."
Urban worked with such previous co-writers as Sarah Buxton, Darryl Brown and Richard Marx on Get Closer. But it was a song by two Nashville writers that captured Urban's own experiences with remarkable precision. "'Without You' really is my life story," he says, with some disbelief. "It's crazy—the fast cars and the guitars and the little girl coming along. It's just an amazing song, and I never would have allowed myself to write it."
As the happy accident of that song indicates, the album's creation was less a matter of Urban chasing a theme than it was staying open to songs that revealed where he is in his own life. "This wasn’t a conscious sort of journey for me," he says. "It was just writing and writing and finding songs that speak to me at this time. I looked for songs that represented all different facets of relationships, but the end result is always stay together, get closer, don’t run. The guy in “Right On Back To You” has driven off—but he’s pulled over and gone, 'I always do this. This is ridiculous because I love this girl, what am I doing?' So he turns around and he goes back. They’re all just reconciling with the need to get closer to intimacy."
The magic of Get Closer, then, isn’t a result of what happened when Keith Urban was in the recording studio; it's about all the other hours of the day. "I just think there’s more love in this album, and that permeated everything and made the music deeper," he says. "I loved making this record. I felt a tremendous sense of balance in my life, as a husband and a father and a musician who gets to go and try to capture all that and harness it and create something."
- “Luxury of Knowing” only appears on the Target® enhanced version.