Keith Urban’s name has been called out at award shows countless times since he burst onto the scene at the turn of the century. But his most recent podium appearance at the American Music Awards was undoubtedly the most memorable yet. Here’s why the New Zealander became overwhelmed with emotion at one of the U.S. music industry’s biggest nights.
Born in Whangarei, New Zealand in 1967, Urban first started performing in local competitions before entering Australian talent contest New Faces in his mid-teens. He subsequently became a regular face on various country music TV shows, and in 1990 landed a deal with EMI. His eponymous debut album arrived later that same year.
After moving to Nashville in 1992, Urban began making inroads into the U.S. country scene. He co-wrote tracks with Toby Keith, 4 Runner and the Raybon Brothers, and played on albums by Tim Wilson, Charlie Daniels and Paul Jefferson. He also scored two Hot Country Songs hits as the frontman of short-lived band The Ranch.
But his true breakthrough came in 1999 with his self-titled first U.S. solo album. The record spawned the first Top 10 country hit by a male New Zealander (“Your Everything”) and a chart-topper penned by two of The Go-Go’s, “But for the Grace of God.” It also helped him to pick up the first of many accolades at the ACMs.
Urban cemented his new star status with 2002’s Golden Road. Its lead single, “Somebody Like You,” was later recognized as the biggest country single of the ’00s, while fourth single, “You’ll Think of Me,” won a Grammy. Urban enjoyed just as much success with 2004’s Be Here, 2006’s Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing and 2009’s Defying Gravity.
The New Zealander continued to dominate the following decade too, with 2010’s Get Closer, 2013’s Fuse and 2016’s Ripcord all producing chart-toppers. In fact, the latter’s “Blue Ain’t Your Color” spent an incredible twelve weeks in the top position. As of December 2017, Urban has achieved a total of 37 U.S. Hot Country Songs hits, almost half of which have reached number one.
Urban has also become a TV talent show regular, with judging stints on The Voice and American Idol. He first signed up to the Australian version of the former in 2011 for a one-season stint. A year later he replaced Steven Tyler on the panel of America’s biggest star search, a role he kept until the show ended in 2016.
Of course, Urban’s personal life has made more headlines than his professional. In 2005 he became a tabloid regular after he started dating actress Nicole Kidman. The pair married a year later, just months before Urban entered the Betty Ford Clinic for alcoholism. The star had previously checked himself into a Nashville treatment center back in 1998 for cocaine abuse.
Kidman and Urban welcomed their first daughter together, Sunday Rose, in 2008 and their second, Faith Margaret, two years later. The pair have multiple homes in both Australia (Sydney) and the U.S. (Los Angeles and Nashville). In a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone, Urban credited Kidman for helping him turn his life around.
The A-list pairing have regularly appeared on the red carpet together, most recently at the 2017 American Music Awards. Urban was there as the nominee for three awards: Favorite Country Album, Favorite Country Song and Favorite Male Country Artist. And his night got off to a great start when he beat Thomas Rhett and Sam Hunt to the latter.
But that was only the beginning of Urban’s triumphant night. As the star took to the stage at Los Angeles’ Microsoft Theatre to accept the award, guest presenter Kathryn Hahn revealed some further surprise news. Urban had actually won two more prizes.
Indeed, not only did Urban’s Ripcord beat Jason Aldean’s They Don’t Know and Chris Stapleton’s From a Room: Volume 1 to Favorite Country Album. But its biggest single, “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” also pipped Sam Hunt’s “Body Like a Back Road” and Jon Pardi’s “Dirt on My Boots” to Favorite Country Song. Only Bruno Mars won more on the night.
Rather than hand all three trophies to the lucky recipient, guest presenter Justin Hartley decided to give out two to Urban’s other half. Nicole Kidman, who had a front row seat at the ceremony, subsequently lifted both into the air with triumph. She also later kissed one as her husband delivered his acceptance speech.
Unsurprisingly, Kidman featured heavily in Urban’s acceptance speech. Looking down at his wife, the country star said, “Thank you girl. I share these with you tonight and our girls Munchkin and Fifi watching at home. I love you girls so much. Thank you for all of the love in our home and in my heart.”
Urban also paid tribute to his fans, declaring “you are the best in the world.” The star then thanked all his friends at country radio, everyone who worked on the record and everyone who supported it. Next, he gave a shout out to the behind-the-scenes team who have been instrumental to his success.
A beaming Urban later told E! News how happy he was to have shared such a victorious night with his other half. “I was glad Nic was there with me. This is an amazing feeling tonight, the fact that it was fan-voted just means everything.”
And Urban continued to spread the love once he and Kidman left the show in the back of their ride. In a video uploaded to Twitter, the country star gushed, “Thank you so much to all of you guys watching this, and for voting for these three honors. It’s indescribable. I really can’t thank you guys enough.”
According to Us Weekly, Urban and Kidman had spent much of the ceremony engaging in public displays of affection. The magazine claims the pair repeatedly played footsie and looked utterly in love throughout. They also took various selfies and chatted to fellow A-listers Diana Ross and Pink.
The AMAs aren’t the only 2017 ceremony that Urban has cleaned up at. The star also won four gongs at the CMT Music Awards at Nashville’s Music City Center. These included Video and Male Video of the Year for “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Collaborative Video of the Year for Carrie Underwood duet “The Fighter” and Social Superstar of the Year.
And his wife has also helped add to the family trophy cabinet this year too. Kidman recently picked up two Emmy Awards for her masterful performance in the acclaimed Big Little Lies. And she’s tipped to achieve similar success at January’s Screen Actors Guild Awards and Golden Globes.