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Aussie Keith Urban's success 'destiny'


(CNN) -- Keith Urban's songs have been described as "funktry," an eclectic blend of country, rock and contemporary funk that has generated attention and adulation from fans and media.

Listen to the 33-year-old artist sing, and he sounds straight from Nashville, Tennessee. Carry on a conversation, and the down-under twang points directly to Australia. Urban was born in the small farming town of Caboolture, just outside Brisbane, but his childhood dreams were of Nashville.

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Country Instrumental Performance

  • "Leaving Cottondale," Alison Brown With Bela Fleck
  • "Ode To A Butterfly," Nickel Creek
  • "The Second Mouse," Tim O'Brien and Darrell Scott
  • "Rollercoaster," Keith Urban
  • "Bloodlines," Steve Wariner and Ryan Wariner
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    Urban's music was shaped by early exposure to his family's record collection -- a mix of Charlie Pride, Jim Reeves, Ronnie Milsap, Joe Williams, Glen Campbell and Dolly Parton. All the albums were produced in Nashville -- the then-seven-year-old told his dad he had to move there because that's where records were made. "I never faltered from that," says Urban. "I feel like I'm pursuing a destiny as opposed to chasing a dream."

    Urban first picked up a guitar when he was six years old, won talent shows when he was eight and worked steadily in a band as a teenager. He had four No. 1 country singles in Australia before he moved to Nashville in 1992. That relocation was a bit of a culture shock for both the non-traditional country singer and the music establishment. "I think it took me a while to convince Nashville that what I do is genuine and my heart's in the right place, and I love country music."

    When Urban arrived in Nashville he formed a band called "The Ranch." The group performed to rave reviews but disbanded shortly after release of their debut album in 1997. From then on, Urban focused on his solo career, touring extensively and writing.

    The self-titled "Keith Urban" is his first solo release, with nine of its 12 tracks co-written by Urban. The album's theme is focusing on what's good in a relationship, whether with a partner or a higher power. "But For The Grace of God" is a cut Urban co-wrote with two singers from The Go-Go's. He said it took two years before he understood what the song was about. "I wrote it and God said 'Well, I'm gonna' hang on to them and when you're going through this I'll give it back to you.' And that's exactly what happened."

    That experience reflects what Urban went through with his music in general. "For a long, long time I felt music was a trick for me. Because I had been playing guitar at such an early age, it felt like a magic trick -- I didn't really have a deep-seated appreciation for it. And I went through a period where I think I came very close to God taking it away from me. Fortunately, I got through it and suddenly went 'Oh my God, this is an amazing thing.' Music is a phenomenal thing and I saw it as a blessing and not as a trick anymore, and as soon as I recognized it for that, everything started coming together."

    That included being named among People Magazine's 'Guys Worth Watching' and his Grammy nomination for best country instrumental performance. Urban says the recognition is great, but he'd play no matter what, because music is his passion. "I love what I do, I always have. I've kind of had a renewed love for it in the last few years, and it's a wonderful blessing."

    For this Aussie-born country singer, his home and his heart will always be his music.

    RELATED SITES: The Recording Academy
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