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Keith Urban Says Country Music Is ‘About Community’ at Artist Humanitarian Award Ceremony

Keith Urban Artist Humanitarian Award CRS 2016
Rick Diamond, Getty Images

Keith Urban received the Artist Humanitarian Award on Monday afternoon (Feb. 8), as part of the Country Radio Seminar’s annual festivities in Nashville. During his acceptance speech, the country superstar mused on the importance of community in country music.

“One of the questions I get asked a lot is, ‘What is country music?'” Urban said from stage. “There’s always so many answers to that, but the one thing I really believe to be true, no matter where you come from, is, it’s about community.”

For the New Zealand-born star, giving back is a personal mission, thanks in part to a traumatic event from his own childhood.

“When I was nine, my parents had joined a country music club in Brisbane [Queensland, Australia]. We’d been members for about a year, and the year after we joined, we lived in a little rural town called Caboolture [also in Queensland], and our house burned down. We were all okay, but we lost all of our belongings, which wasn’t much, but it was everything we had,” Urban recalls. “Without hesitation, our country music club immediately put on a fundraiser for us. Organizations like the Red Cross stepped in and helped us with clothing, Goodwill stepped in, and it was so apparent to me, right from the age of nine, that this is what it’s about.”

Urban says that he’s “extremely grateful” to be able to shine a spotlight, through his career, on the causes that are important to him.

“It’s what I love to do, more than anything,” the singer continues, specifically mentioning his passion for assisting in music education. “I was a terrible athlete at school, and an even worse academic, so fortunately, music was something I was given the opportunity to do. A lot of kids don’t have access to instruments, and we’re trying to fix that, among many, many other things.”

Urban also used his time on stage to honor those who give so sacrificially of their time without ever receiving any acknowledgement for their efforts.

“I just want to really share this award with all of the volunteers and people that work behind the scenes in countless organizations, that have no name recognition, that never receive these kind of things, but work tirelessly and give of the most precious thing we all have, which is time,” he explains. “… We don’t actually know how much we have of it, so to give of their time to anyone or anything, is the most extraordinary thing we can all do.”

Urban is actively involved in the All for the Hall benefit concert, which raises money for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, and is on the advisory board of and supports St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. He also supports the Make-a-Wish Foundation, the Grammy in the Schools program, the Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation and the Navy SEALS Foundation.

“Keith Urban is a true humanitarian who gives out of love, passion, spirit and generosity,” says CRS Executive Director Bill Mayne. “It’s been an honor to witness quietly from the sidelines, the amount of time, talent and passion that Keith has selflessly given over his life and career. The impact and reach of his generosity has effected so many and is so broad in scope and depth — his is a bar of humanitarian effort, that we all can be inspired by!”

Past recipients of the CRS Artist Humanitarian Award include Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Trace Adkins, Randy Owen, Toby Keith, Brad Paisley, Brooks & Dunn, Reba McEntire, Vince Gill, Garth Brooks and Charlie Daniels, among others. The honor’s 2015 recipientsLady Antebellum, were on hand to present Urban his trophy.

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