7 Revelations From Keith Urban’s SXSW Visit
Keith Urban returned to SXSW in Austin, Texas, on Friday (March 16), where he gave a keynote speech at the music conference and later, a performance at the music festival. Here are the highlights.
1. A new Keith Urban song captures the heart of fandom
Keith Urban's Graffiti U album is coming soon — we'll likely have new music really soon — and the superstar briefed a few of the songs he's excited for, including one that's written from the perspective of a fan in the crowd. He says the song captures the excitement of watching a live show. Keith Urban fans know this feeling well.
2. Keith "dares to suck"
Urban loves to create, and he doesn't really care whether you love the end product or not. It's taken a lifetime of discovery to bring him here, but he's more comfortable than ever with who he is as an artist, in 2018.
"As a man who can’t bring a child into the world, I can bring a song into the world," he says, acknowledging that even his existing fans won't love everything he puts out, and he's okay with that. He learned to "make your own thing" from John Mellencamp, and wife Nicole Kidman taught him how to "dare to suck" — to "try anything, do anything" at least once.
"It will be very apparent if it sucks, and we won't do that anymore," he jokes. Adds the four-time Grammy winner of his ultimate goal with new music: "I'm just trying to put some good in the world. That's all I'm doing."
3. Keith learned about goodwill from a really terrible tragedy
The singer's family home burned down when he was just 10, and he lost everything. No one was hurt (Keith was at school at the time), and a lot of good came from the experience — in fact, the tragedy shaped the man Urban would become. He says he learned an important lesson about helping those in need when his community stepped up to help his family rebuild, raising funds, providing clothes and even opening up their own homes so Urban's family would have shelter. "I saw this spirit in action at a young age and it has just always stayed with me," he says.
4. Keith is kind of a huge Post Malone fan!
"He's got his own thing and it's insane!" Urban says of the singer/rapper/producer/creator. "I don't even think he knows what it is," the country star jokes, adding, "I love him."
Urban also talked about the new age of music, asserting that there are all forms of musicianship, and it's not limited to artists with traditional instruments. He says a guy creating electronic sounds on his MacBook Pro is "as valid as a guy sitting there playing drums — I don’t discard that."
5. Keith and Nicole work hard to keep family life private
So, we knew this, but it was nice to hear why Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman keep their girls out of the spotlight as much as possible. He says they have "nothing to hide and everything to protect." The couple want Faith, 7, and Sunday, 9, to have as normal of a childhood as you can when your mom and dad are A-list celebrities.
6. Also private? His journey to sobriety
Keith prefers not to live in the past, so he doesn't talk too much about why he got sober in the late '90s. But he did offer some uplifting advice for a fan (Molly, 6 months sober) who told her story during the Q&A session of the keynote.
"I wished I had gotten sober many years before I did, but I'm glad I finally got here," Urban admits. "It has made it possible to do the things I do. I wasn't at my full potential. I was enslaved, is what I was." He gives a lot of the credit to wife Nicole and other family and friends for helping him get there. "It has freed up my creativity exponentially."
7. Keith makes a damn good show look pretty effortless
Urban had the honor of a late-night headlining set at Austin's famed Stubb's BBQ amphitheater (a prized SXSW performance slot), and he kept his crowd eagerly captive for 80 minutes. He ran through a number of his 23 No. 1 hits, darting into the crowd during "You Look Good in My Shirt" and losing his guitar on the way back (he signed it and gave it to a lucky fan). Highlights: "Blue Ain't Your Color," "Wasted Time," "Female" and "The Fighter" featuring a vocal track from Carrie Underwood, plus a new one, "Texas Time," which will appear on Graffiti U when it comes out.
There were no surprise guests, nothing racy or flashy ... just Keith.
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