After reaching the proverbial mountaintop of being named Entertainer of the Year at the 2005 CMA Awards, there’s only one word Keith Urban can think of to describe how it feels being back in that premiere category of nominees: “Extraordinary.”
At 48 years young, Urban joins Garth Brooks, Luke Bryan, Chris Stapleton and Carrie Underwood in the hunt for this year’s highest honor — and it seems the Aussie singer has lost none of the fire that brought him to Nashville in the first place. Speaking with Rolling Stone Country just after announcing the 50th anniversary field of nominees with fellow stars Dierks Bentley and Cam at the Grand Ole Opry house, Urban admitted that making music is still just like breathing to him.
“I love playing live,” he told us. “It’s an intense passion for me, and thank God. I couldn’t imagine not doing it. I’d be playing guitar down on Broadway tonight if I wasn’t doing this. If my career wasn’t in the place it’s at right now, I’d be playing some club somewhere. This is what I’ve always done, and I just feel incredibly lucky and blessed that I get to do it at the level that I get to do it at.”
This past year has seen the end of American Idol — which featured Urban as a judge in its final four seasons — but it also saw the release of his critically-acclaimed Ripcord album, an adventurous project that proves he’s still pushing hard into uncharted territory. Ripcord‘s chart-topping debut — along with the successful world tour of the same name — has shown country fans are more than willing to follow.
“For me, it’s always brand new,” he explains of his longevity. “Each tour is like, ‘We’ve never done this tour. I’ve never done these songs live. I’ve never played to these people before,’ so it’s always new and that’s why for me — which is the same with making a record, it always feels like this is the first one. I’m fascinated and curious about it all.”
Along with his Entertainer of the Year nod, Urban is also up for Male Vocalist of the Year, Album of the Year and Musical Event of the Year (“The Fighter,” featuring Carrie Underwood) at this year’s show. With eight CMA Awards already under his belt, he realizes how much has already accomplished. But he also feels like there’s still a lot of gas left in the tank.
“I feel an immense amount of satisfaction for what I’ve gotten to do so far,” he says. “But right now, Ripcord and the way it’s been received, it feels like the start of the next chapter. It’s a great feeling.”
Find out if Urban takes home his second entertainer of the year award (of any of the three other he’s up for) when the 50th annual CMA Awards air live from Nashville on November 2nd at 8:00 p.m. ET on ABC.