Keith Urban's career burning ever brighter
Country superstar Keith Urban, more and more, is becoming an overall superstar and a household name, say music-industry observers.
Certainly, Urban's stint on the hit Fox reality show “American Idol” has given him an even-higher profile than the Australian singer already had, says Michael McCall, an editor and writer for publications at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum in Nashville, Tenn. And Urban plays the role well, serving as a kind and encouraging judge.
“This exposed him to a bigger fan base ... He was a big star before,” McCall says.
“I think he's good at giving advice,” says McCall about Urban, who also has mentored people in Nashville. “He likes that role of ... encouraging other talents.
“I don't think (Urban) sees what he does as competitive,” he says. “I think he sees it as spreading his tent ... and encouraging others.”
In addition to starting auditions last week for Season 13 of “American Idol,” Urban is continuing his Light the Fuse Tour, which began in July and will end in February in Nashville. The tour stops Sept. 13 at First Niagara Pavilion in Burgettstown. He released his latest album, “Fuse,” on Sept. 10.
Urban's first album in nearly three years is also his first since 2011 surgery to remove a polyp from one vocal cord and a nodule from another. After the surgery, Urban had to re-train, since he no longer had to strain to hit certain notes.
“To go up there didn't require half the effort it used to, so I would constantly be singing sharp, well above the note, because my muscles were used to the heavy lifting,” he told USA Today.
McCall says Urban loves live performance. That's where he's getting to road-test his new sounds and see where they might take him next.
“I'm more driven by where country could go than anything else,” he told USA Today. “I make whatever records I make. I don't even think of them in terms of genre. They're just me and my sound. This album was seeing where I could take my sound and, in the process, maybe that's a particular kind of country music in 2014.”
It's obvious “the enjoyment he gets from being an entertainer, being on stage and playing the guitar,” McCall says.
McCall saw Urban play in Nashville during the ‘90s, when Urban was part of a band called The Ranch. Urban's performance was impressive, and he clearly had star potential, McCall says.
Urban — whose biggest hits include “Little Bit of Everything,” “You Gonna Fly,” “Sweet Thing,” “Days Go By” and “Making Memories of Us” — plays triple-talent roles as a singer, songwriter and stellar guitarist, says Jeremy Mulder, a disc jockey for the Froggy country radio stations in the region.
“The guy could be lead guitarist for any band out there,” says Mulder, whose on-air moniker is Danger Frog. “Great voice, great songwriter. He's the real deal.”
With his job at “American Idol,” Mulder says, Urban gets to do something the touring singer seldom does otherwise: Go to a regular job, and stay in one place.
“To get paid millions of dollars to be in one city for several months like Los Angeles, sit in the chair and critique people's singing — I think just about every singer out there would love to have that job,” Mulder says.
Urban's the only holdover from last year's judging panel, though Randy Jackson will serve as a mentor on the show next season. He's joined this year by Jennifer Lopez and Harry Connick Jr.
Once in an interview, Mulder asked the singer about his stint on “Idol.”
“He just said, flat-out, it's a great gig,” he says.
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7824. USA Today contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- 50th anniversary week celebrates city’s British Invasion by Beatles
- Classics radio still has a home on Western Pennsylvania dials
- Rusted Root will headline the Allegheny County Music Festival