Keith Urban took the stage and earned a standing ovation at the 2021 CMA Awards on Wednesday night (Nov. 10) for a rollicking performance of his uptempo newest single, "Wild Hearts."

Urban kicked off the performance with a pre-taped video of him walking down Nashville famous Broadway and into the arena, delivering a hair-raising monologue addressed to all of the "dreamers."

The megastar dedicated his performance to the ones "with guitars in their hands and songs in their hearts ... who try to make their mark in this town known far and wide as Music City."

"This song goes out to all of you wild hearts," Urban said as he walked onto the CMA stage. "Keep dreaming; keep painting the sky. Like everyone else taking the stage tonight, I’m one of you."

Urban, dressed in a Grand Ole Opry T-shirt and suit jacket, proceeded to tear up the stage. He once again showed the world why he's one of country music's most electrifying performers, bringing everyone in the arena to their feet with "Wild Hearts." Even if he didn't earn a nomination at this year's awards, he certainly delivered one of the most memorable performances.

First released in late summer 2021, "Wild Hearts" is Urban's tip of the hat to those who embody individualism and fiercely independent spirit. There's also an element of autobiography in the song for the country star, who drew from the annals of his childhood memories with his dad to write one of its verses.

The song was co-written by three other country artists — Eric Paslay, Runaway June's Jennifer Wayne and Old Dominion's Brad Tursi — but Urban didn't feel enough of a personal connection to "Wild Hearts" to record it until he re-wrote some of its lyrics to memorialize his very first concert, a Johnny Cash show that he attended with his dad when he was five years old.

"That’s the loudest, drunkest group of people I had ever been around and it was exciting," he recounts. "You’re five years old and just packed in this arena and I was just so mesmerized by how loud everybody was."

While Urban is a performer at this year's CMA Awards, he's not nominated for any awards, despite having a new album out, The Speed of Now Part 1. 2021 marked the first time since 2003 that Urban's name had been missing from the CMAs nominees list.

The Country Music Association held the 2021 CMA Awards at Bridgestone Arena in downtown Nashville. The show, hosted for the first time by Luke Bryan, returned to the venue — its home since 2006 — after one year at Music City Center due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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