Keith Urban: Talent Show Judge Told Me to ‘Get Out of Country’
Keith Urban is balancing his award-winning career as a superstar recording artist with his role as a coach on Australia’s version of the hit TV show, “The Voice,” but he admits that his first foray into talent competitions wasn’t a positive experience. The New Zealand native tried out for a televised talent show, singing a Dolly Parton tune, when he was only nine years old, and one particular judge was less than impressed with his audition.
“He said, ‘I desperately encourage you to escape the mediocrity and get out of country and western and get into some real music. Otherwise you’ll end up sounding like Dolly Parton and be absolutely useless,” Keith recalls to Australian newspaper, the Courier Mail. “So that obviously had a big impact on me! And then he said, ‘Kindly learn to sing in tune because you are intrinsically a good musician.’”
The “For You” singer admits he would have passed on “The Voice” entirely, if not for the encouragement of his movie star wife, Nicole Kidman, who urged him to watch the U.S. version, which stars friend and fellow country star Blake Shelton. After he saw a few episodes, he realized he was drawn to the concept of picking talent, without any regard to appearances.
“It would be a beautiful world if it was only about the way people sounded, but it’s not, it never will be,” he shares. “Even Adele said, ‘I make music for the ears, not the eyes’ but she still has to maintain a particular way of looking, of presenting herself when she appears on the Grammys or makes a music video.”
Keith acknowledges that, as the show goes on, he has to focus on aspects other than the music. “That is the sad reality and this show, once it moves past the blind auditions, does move into that reality where they have to know how to present themselves.”
The father of two little girls may be gaining rave reviews on the TV show, but one of his record labelmates just doesn’t get the hype.
“It’s become ‘American Idol’ gone mad,” Eric Church told Rolling Stone. “That’s crazy. I don’t know what would make an artist do that. You’re not an artist … If I was concerned about my legacy, there’s no f—ing way I would ever sit there [and be a reality-show judge]. Once your career becomes something other than the music, then that’s what it is. I’ll never make that mistake. I don’t care if I f—ing starve.”
Keith has yet to respond to Eric’s rant. The newest member of the Grand Ole Opry will spend the next few months at home while he puts the finishing touches on his upcoming album. Watch his team on “The Voice” perform here.