The Stunning Transformation Of Keith Urban

Keith Urban became a big name in country music in the early 2000s, but today, it would be difficult to find someone who hasn't heard of this Australian country star — between his 11 albums, 1,242 concerts (per Concert Archives), work as an "American Idol" TV judge, and marriage to movie star Nicole Kidman, he's certainly made a name for himself.

Urban is known as one of the best guitarists and songwriters in the music industry. Between this and his many nominations and awards won over the years, we can safely say that Urban is (and will continue to be) one of the biggest names in country music.

However, Urban wasn't always a successful musician, and he's even struggled with his confidence from time to time. His story and consequential personal and professional growth have been one full of challenges, inspiration, and, ultimately, triumph. Keep reading to learn more about the phenomenal transformation of Keith Urban.

Keith Urban had a complex relationship with his father as a child

Although everyone may think of Keith Urban as purely Australian, he was actually born in New Zealand in 1967 and then raised in Australia where he developed a love (and intense talent) for country music and guitar (via Biography). Although Urban attributes his success to his father's influence, he admitted in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone that he grew up in a home with "no intimacy," as his father never told Urban that he loved him. He went on to explain that his father struggled with alcohol abuse and referred to his father as a "physical disciplinarian" for being physically abusive.

Despite his father's abuse, the two bonded over their mutual love of country music and of America. Urban even went so far as to jokingly comment in the Rolling Stone article, "[He feels] very sure if [his father] had been into African music, [he'd] be living in Zimbabwe." It's possible we all have Urban's desire to impress his father to thank him for the influence he had on his music career.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

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His childhood home burned down when he was 10

Keith Urban's current life seems like a fantasy to some. He has a fabulous career; a supportive, beautiful, and successful wife; pretty and healthy daughters; and multiple living spaces, including two homes in Australia (where both Urban and Kidman hail from), a condo in New York, and two mansions — one in Los Angeles and one in Nashville, Tennessee (via Hello!). However, Urban's life has been far from easy.

During the wildfires that ravaged California in 2015, Urban revealed to Extra that his family "lost everything" in a house fire when he was a child. This, of course, led Urban to sympathize with people who had lost their homes from the fires of 2015 because he "[knows] that feeling of losing your house." Urban was only 10 years old when his family's house burned down — fortunately, everyone was fine, as Urban was at school at the time — but he recalled walking through the charred remains, "thinking 'I was just in here getting ready for school...' It gives me chills."

Keith Urban has been playing music since he was a kid

After Keith Urban's parents instilled a love of country music in him as a child, he learned to play guitar and joined the musical group "Kids Country" in 1979. Even then, Urban was a talented guitar player. As you can see in the "Kids Country" rendition of "It's So Easy" by Buddy Holly and the Crickets, which they performed on Reg Lindsay's "Country Homestead" (via Taste of Country), a young Urban (even then donning his signature long sandy hair) leads the song on the guitar.

A basic search on YouTube will give any Urban fan some insight into his early days. Here, you can find a young Urban playing songs such as "All Out of Love" for a talent competition, "Apple Jack" by Dolly Parton on "Country Homestead," and more — all of which show Urban's immense talent since the '70s.

The country music star initially wanted to be a DJ

After knowing how successful Keith Urban's music career turned out, it may be surprising to discover that Urban didn't always see himself taking center stage. Initially, Urban wanted to be a disc jockey, or DJ, and worked as an intern at a radio station in his hometown of Brisbane, Australia. Unfortunately for him (but fortunately for the rest of the world), he was fired after messing up his practice set for his first solo show.

Urban told Taste of Country in 2017 that the radio station had two booths and, while he was putting together his set in one booth, there was a serious radio announcement happening in the other booth. Urban hit a button trying to play the theme song to "The Dukes of Hazzard," and nothing happened ... or so he thought. Urban recalls how he had hit the wrong button, causing the song to play in the other booth "right in the middle of the news report." Surely, this was quite embarrassing for the young aspiring DJ, but it would turn out to be quite a wonderful accident for the world of country music.

The musician moved to Nashville in 1992

Finally, in the city most consider the "home of country music" or simply "music city" — Nashville, Tennessee — Keith Urban set out to begin his music career. In an attempt to get any attention he could from the industry, he began playing guitar for popular country music artists such as Brooks and Dunn, The Dixie Chicks, and Alan Jackson — in fact, Urban plays the guitar in the music video for Jackson's "Mercury Blues" (via Classic Country Music).

In Nashville, Urban became the lead singer and guitarist for The Ranch, a country music trio that earned a record deal with Capitol Records and released an album in 1997. However, Urban doesn't remember these days fondly. In fact, he described his days in the band as "soul sucking to the ultimate degree," per Rolling Stone. Urban quit the band after only about a year to try to make it on his own.

Keith Urban found real success in 1999

Despite the setbacks, Keith Urban refused to give up. After leaving The Ranch, Urban landed a solo record deal with Capitol Records where he released his first self-titled album (his first solo album sold in America) in 1999, via The Boot. This album contains some of Urban's most memorable songs such as "Where the Blacktop Ends," "Your Everything," "It's a Love Thing," and the song that earned Urban his first No. 1 hit — "But for the Grace of God."

Although Urban's first solo album didn't do so well when it was sold in Australia in 1991 (although you can find copies on eBay if you look hard enough), his first solo album released in America went platinum a mere two months after its release. By the start of the new millennium, Urban had officially made his mark in country music — a comparatively small mark compared to what his career would become.

By 2001, he was an award-winning country music artist

Thanks to the success of Keith Urban's first American-sold solo album — only two months after its release — Urban won his first Country Music Award (CMA). Urban won the CMA Horizon Award in 2001 (now called "The Newcomer of the Year Award"). Upon receiving the award, he said, "Well, what do you know? Prayers do work. Thank you, God. I prayed so much for this" (via Outsider). He went on to thank his mom and his then-fiancée, model Niki Taylor.

According to Outsider, since this monumental night for Urban, he has won "a dozen" CMA trophies. Over his impressive career of more than two decades, Urban has won many awards, including four Grammys and a star on the Music City Walk of Fame for guitar, via IMDb. After much hard work and dedication, Urban's career finally took off in 2001.

Keith Urban married Nicole Kidman in 2006

Although Keith Urban was in a serious relationship with model Niki Taylor when he first made it big (she was actually in his music video for "Somebody Like You" in 2002), he has only been married once. Although both Urban and Nicole Kidman are originally from Australia, they didn't meet until 2005 when they both attended the G'Day USA Gala (an event for Australian celebrities in Los Angeles).

While most people would be metaphorically dripping in confidence if they were in his position, Urban seems a bit shy and less than confident. According to Us Weekly, it took him a whole four months of holding onto Kidman's phone number before working up the courage to call her.

Luckily, he did call, and it's a good thing he did. Urban recounts how he thought Nicole was "out of [his] league" but that talking to her was "effortless" (per The Sydney Morning Herald). By June 2006, the couple walked down the aisle together in Manly, Australia. Today, the two have a reputation as one of the most solid celebrity couples for their longtime relationship.

The singer has struggled with addiction

Devoted Keith Urban fans are likely aware of his struggles with addiction (especially considering his openness about it). This is partially why Urban doesn't look back on his time with the band The Ranch in the '90s fondly — in addition to their lack of success, he was struggling with addiction. According to a 2014 Rolling Stone interview, Urban explained that, because he found the experience so "soul-sucking," he drank.

However, his commitment to music was prominent even during these times, as he said he "didn't really play high" but that he "liked to get crazy after the gig" once he'd return home. But for the grace of God (pun intended), Urban entered rehab in 1998, a year before landing his solo record deal.

Unfortunately, in 2006, only four months after marrying Nicole Kidman, Urban checked himself into rehab again with Kidman by his side, releasing a statement (via TMZ) saying how he regretted hurting his wife and other loved ones. "One can never let one's guard down on recovery and I'm afraid that I have," he said.

As Urban told Today in 2021, he credits Kidman for his sobriety and said he'd been sober ever since Kidman set up an intervention for him in 2006. Talk about a superstar love story.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Keith Urban became a father in 2008 and 2010

Nicole Kidman gave birth to Keith Urban's daughter, Sunday Rose Kidman-Urban, on July 7, 2008. The couple told People they "feel immensely blessed and grateful to be given this beautiful baby girl. She's an absolute delight." The couple's second biological child (this one born using a surrogate), Faith Margaret Kidman-Urban, was born in December 2010.

According to a 2008 "Good Morning America" interview with Kidman (per ABC News), Kidman never expected to be able to carry biological children due to doctors telling her she only had a "[2%] chance of conceiving a child." To explain the name of their second child, Kidman said they "needed lots of faith, literally" (via Hello!).

While Urban has officially decided during the COVID-19 lockdown that he's not "very good at homeschooling" (having failed out of high school himself at 15), UMG reported (via Everything Nash) that his "favorite role" is being a father to his girls, an experience which he calls "amazing."

He was the first Aussie to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry

With his personal life in a better place, Keith Urban was ready to receive the honor of induction into the Grand Ole Opry, a huge honor for any country musician. According to The Boot, not only was Urban the first person from Australia to be inducted into the Grand Ole Opry, but he was the first ever from somewhere outside of North America to receive the honor.

In 2012, Trace Adkins welcomed Urban into the Grand Ole Opry. In keeping with the country music spirit, upon receiving his induction, Urban shouted, "Thank you very much! Yee haw! That is awesome!" Urban also commented, "It's a long way from Caboolture [Queensland, Australia] to the stage here at the Grand Ole Opry ... and to stand in this circle is the most phenomenal thing." He went on to explain how "this is a responsibility that I take deep to the heart of me."

In 2012, he became a judge on American Idol

In 2012, Keith Urban became a judge on "American Idol," which he continued to do for four seasons. When Urban was officially signed on as a judge for the 12th season of "American Idol," he told CNN it was "really an honor to have been invited to be a part of the 'American Idol' family" and that he was "looking forward to working with everyone and to [see] the same passion that [he has] for music in all of the participants."

Fox dropped "American Idol" after Season 15, but there has been speculation that Urban may return in the future, since ABC quickly picked up the show in 2017. Urban told CMT (via The Boot) he's "got a lot of things [he wants] to do, but for [him], it's got to be music-centric," leaving fans to believe Urban may return to "American Idol" in the future.

Outside of performing, music has always been important to Urban. In 2017, he was honored in Washington, D.C., for donating "thousands of musical instruments to underserved programs across the country" (via USA Today), so he can ensure that music is part of every child's education.

Keith Urban came to terms with his father's death

Keith Urban lost his father to cancer in 2015, not long after revealing a display of his memorabilia at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum entitled "Keith Urban So Far ..." According to the Tennessean, shortly before making his appearance at the opening, Urban learned that his father had entered hospice care. Urban commented at the time that his father "probably only got a few weeks, if that," explaining how the exhibit was actually "bittersweet" for him. "This [exhibit had] all come at a very strange time where it's typical of a career that has extreme highs and extreme lows all often at the exact same time. So (the exhibit) is bittersweet a little bit because (my dad) is the catalyst for all of this ... for me living in America."

After the actual death of Urban's father, the musician made an announcement on his website, ending the sentiment with "He is finally at peace" (per People). With the release of his 2016 album "Ripcord," Urban may have finally found the catharsis he was searching for — especially through his song "Gone Tomorrow (Here Today)," which he was inspired to write when processing his emotions after his father's death, via Taste of Country.

The country crooner was the 2018 and 2019 Entertainer of the Year

In 2018, Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman both shed happy tears when Urban won "Entertainer of the Year" at the Country Music Association (CMA) Awards. "I wish my dad was alive to see this but I think he's watching over me tonight," Urban shared in his acceptance speech, per People. "I am very grateful that I get to do what I do."

Then, again, in 2019, Urban won "Entertainer of the Year" at the Academy of Country Music (ACM) Awards. This marked the first time the country music star has ever won the award despite nine previous nominations. In his acceptance speech, as People noted, he thanked Kidman (whom he called "baby girl"), his daughters (who were "at home watching"), his team, country radio, and his "amazing" fans, adding, "You have no idea what you mean to me."

It seems apparent that Urban is far from done making his mark on the music industry. In 2020, he released an album — during a global pandemic — called "The Speed of Now Part One" and has plans for a world tour in 2022. It's safe to say we can all expect big things from Urban ... like, maybe, a "Speed of Now Part Two" album?