Keith Urban has had a lot of career accolades in the past 25 years, but for him, likely nothing will ever top being inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. The New Zealand-born singer will be inducted on October 11, along with Kix Brooks, David Lee Murphy, Casey Beathard, Rafe Van Hoy and the late John Jarrard, a professional and personal high Urban never expected to achieve.
“Being invited into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame is hands down one of the highest honors that’s ever happened to me,” Urban tells his record label. “I’ve always loved writing songs. I’ve always loved great songwriters, and, this is a songwriting town. I mean, first the song always. The song is the very first thing. To be in this group, this incredible group of songwriters is a bit surreal. Honestly, it’s probably still sinking in.”
Urban is especially honored to be joined this year by such a legendary class of songwriters, including his former tour boss.
“This particular group, this class of ‘23, is surreal,” Urban says with a laugh. “I know all of these guys; Casey Beathard is the only guy that I haven’t really met, but I’ve known David Lee Murphy for a long time, Rafe Van Hoy, Kix Brooks, of course. Kix is like my brother from another mother. He was one of the first people in town to really get behind what I was doing. I had a band at the time called The Ranch and Kix came and saw us play in a tiny little club and invited us to go out and open some shows for Brooks & Dunn even before we ever had any music out.
“We had nothing on the radio,” he adds. “He was just a great believer of mine. So to be inducted in the same year that Kix is particularly sweet.”
When Urban’s career began in Nashville, after leaving Australia to pursue music in the United States, his challenging beginning did little to hint at the successful, decades-long career he would have as a country music singer-songwriter.
“I still drive down 16th and into Music Row and it’s like time evaporates. And I’m right back, driving down the exact same avenue to go to a songwriting session,” Urban tells the Associated Press. “I was writing five days a week at MCA Publishing over there, and on one hand, it was an excruciatingly tough time for me because it wasn’t really how I wrote songs: sitting in a room with a complete stranger, a couple of legal pads, and acoustic guitars in a windowless room. That’s kind of how it was done back then.”
“It was such a training ground for me, I guess, because I was kind of forced into an environment that wasn’t natural to me,” he remarks. “But I learned so much from it about songwriting. As tough as it was, it’s probably where I learned the most about songwriting.”
Urban will resume his Keith Urban: The Las Vegas Residency on November 1. He will also co-host the All for the Hall benefit, alongside Vince Gill, on Tuesday, December 5. Find music and tour dates at KeithUrban.com.