If Keith Urban wins the 2014 CMA award for Album of the Year, the show will be a little more expensive for the Country Music Association.
"But I'll pay for all the trophies myself if that should happen," the country superstar, who would share the win with ten different producers, tells Rolling Stone Country with a laugh.
Urban's chart-topping Fuse album — which celebrates its first anniversary next week — is nominated alongside LPs by two artists who lend their voices to duets on the album, Miranda Lambert ("We Were Us") and Eric Church ("Raise 'Em Up"), as well as Luke Bryan's and Dierks Bentley's latest projects. Urban calls the nomination "really gratifying," as he colored outside the lines on Fuse, not only with its production roster but also with its song choices.
"It took about a year and a half to make this," he says. "I really threw myself into uncharted territory, with predominantly people I've never worked with before, studios I've never worked in, songs by people I've never cut songs by…. The support from my record label was extraordinary, too. Capitol Records worked insanely hard on this and also gave me the time to make the record I needed to make — and that doesn't happen for every artist. The nomination is a testament to them, as well."
Urban's name was called four times during this morning's announcement of the 2014 CMA Awards nominations, as he's also recognized in the Male Vocalist, Musical Event (for "We Were Us") and Entertainer of the Year categories. The latter — the biggest award of the night — includes Urban for the first time since 2011. The nod is no doubt thanks, at least in part, to the success of his 2013-2014 Light the Fuse Tour.
"I could feel it in the audience, it was different than any tour we've done," Urban reflects. "Then the record came out and I was watching songs off Fuse start to connect with everyone — even the album tracks and potential singles that weren't singles yet. It was an extraordinary feeling."
The "Somewhere in My Car" singer last won the CMA's Entertainer of the Year trophy in 2005, the year before he married actress Nicole Kidman and turned his formerly unhealthy personal life around. His professional life has also undergone what he calls "huge clarity," making the thousands of tour miles logged since his last Entertainer victory sweeter.
"I've been sober eight years, and the presence of being on stage is exponentially different in every way," he says. "And the sense of purpose, too... I've always loved playing live, but now the details of the show are even more important… making sure the person the very farthest [from the stage] connects as much as the person right in front of us. It's also fun to be among the crowd, both literally and figuratively, and connect with everybody. That's all we're there for — to connect with everyone and connect them together through the music. If we do that, we've done our jobs and we move on to the next town."
Urban says after hearing today's nominations, he thought back to his first CMA Awards, some 15 years ago.
"Obviously, I was seated a long way away from the action," he recalls. "But I remember seeing Reba, George Strait and Alan Jackson. Everybody was talking; they all knew each other…. I thought, 'My God, I would love to be in that group.'"
The 48th annual CMA Awards will broadcast live on November 5th at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC, with Urban most likely moved up to the front row.