Tamworth Salutes songwriter
Keith Urban is leading the way for a new breed of country performer.
who dares to be different
Variety Today 1992
By Shirley Broun
KEITH URBAN is leading the charge of a new breed of performer who commands the attention of music lovers across the board.
Sure – to date his major recognition has come from the Country Music arena, but anyone who has seen this talented 24-year-old peforming `live’ will know his songwriting and musical abilities extend far beyond the `country’ tag. And, that is how Keith wants to keep it. He doesn’t believe he fits into any specific category and rebukes any attempt to put him into one.
“Categorising artists can prohibit their growth. To me the most important thing is writing good melodies and lyrics,” Keith said.
Since the age of six, Keith has played with a host of bands covering all musical tastes – from rock’n’roll to country. “I have been influenced in so many different areas of music and that is why my songs are so diverse. I don’t want to be limited – my music is too important to me to allow that to happen.”
Yet Keith experienced the thrill of his career this year when his self-titled debut album (released last August), was a finalist for `Album of the Year’ at this year’s Australasian Country Music Awards in Tamworth.
“It was very special to have won two Golden guitars for Instrumental of the Year (for `Clutterbilly’) and Male Vocalist of the year but having my album nominated in Album of the Year was really important to me,” Keith said.
“It showed that Tamworth was willing to accept a new style of country. This is a great step because, as a fan of country music, I believe it’s an injustice to keep on a narrow path without being able to accept something new or different.”
Keith would like to take the recognition of his work one step further and see a Contemporary Album Award introduced.
“This would allow people such as the Black Sorrows into the Awards, and pave the way for a greater acceptance for those who want to crossover.”
Keith, who recently returned from a songwriting excursion to the world’s country music capital, Nashville, Tennessee, said his ultimate goal is to write and record good songs – the type that have a lasting impact on the cassette, CD, or record-listening public. “I’d like to think people would select my record out of their collection at family nights or social gatherings. That would be such an honour.”
While in Nashville, Keith wrote an estimated 14 songs in the company of some of America’s most accomplished songwriters. Among them, Shirley Eikhardt, who wrote Bonny Rait’s latest hit `Something to Talk About’.
Forever seeking to improve his writing technique and inspired by successful songwriter Don Henley, Keith has definite ideas about the songs he has written and will pen in the future. “I would like to think every song is well thought out and written for a reason as well as providing listening enjoyment. I know they can’t all be `singles’ but neither should they be throw away songs just to fill up an album.”
Keith is currently writing for his second album release, due to be recorded in America later this year. He has also just completed a session in the recording studio with legendary Slim Dusty. “Although we haven’t released an album in America as yet, there is a great deal of interest from various people who have heard my work,” he said.
Keith, who has been described as the `Urban Cowboy’ and more recently the `Bad Boy of Country’ said his image is of least importance to him. “Peoples images often overshadow their talent and music. There is a lot more to talent than merely good looks or a certain image.”
There is no doubting the potential of this youthful, good looking lad who first competed in amateur talent quests at Tamworth when only nine years old.
Keith won the Star Maker Talent Quest at the Festival in 1990, followed in the same year by four Queensland Recording Industry Awards (The Sunnies) and a worldwide five record deal with EMI records. He released his deb