In December of 2020, Rolling Stone Australia released a special edition issue which looks at the 50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time, paying tribute to the best and most impactful artists in Australian music history. While it would have been easy for the editors and writers of the publication to profess their love of the listed artists, the decision was instead made for those who found themselves inspired by these world-renowned names to share their own testimonials of why these artists deserve to make the list.
In celebration of the issue’s release in December, we’re counting down the full 50 artists and their accompanying testimonials in this ongoing online feature. If you want to get your hands on an physical copy of the magazine, be sure to subscribe now to experience the double-length edition featuring some of Australia’s best and brightest discussing the finest names in local music.
50 Greatest Australian Artists of All Time – #29: Keith Urban (by Seaforth)
Driving down Nashville’s Lower Broadway, you see a few things: Cowboy hats, bachelorette parties, honky-tonks brimming with world-class musicians. And right at the top of the strip is a mural, “Legends Corner,” with country music heroes from Johnny Cash to Loretta Lynn to Garth Brooks gathered around a small table. And perched right in the middle, next to Merle Haggard, is Australia’s own Keith Urban.
If this isn’t testament enough to his still thriving career, add over 15 million albums sold, 20 number one singles, four Grammys, 15 ACM Awards, 13 CMA Awards (including 2018 Entertainer Of The Year) – you get where we’re going with this.
We discovered Keith around sixth grade, and for both of us, it was a lightbulb moment. Keith’s vocal melodies, storytelling lyrics and guitar licks combined, was unlike anything either of us had heard before. We’ve both played music since we were very young, but once Mitch heard “Clutterbilly” and Tom heard “Who Wouldn’t Wanna Be Me,” Keith instantly became our compass, pointing us in the musical direction we hadn’t known we had been searching for.
“Keith instantly became our compass, pointing us in the musical direction we hadn’t known we had been searching for.”
Put on any of his records, from Golden Road, to Love, Pain & The Whole Crazy Thing, to our personal favourite, Defying Gravity, and we dare you not to be moved by the truth and sincerity in his songs, his effortless vocal and guitar abilities and his overall message. Then see him perform live, and you’ll be amazed at how he can make every person in the room feel like a part of his show. Watching him as young musicians, we were inspired by his uncanny ability to sing through the guitar just as well as his voice. He can floor a room of any size with just him and an acoustic guitar, as well as with a full band.
More than ten years later, we now live in Nashville and are chasing the same dream Keith once had. We were lucky enough to open for him twice in Australia in December 2019, and not an inch of his passion for what he does has withered since we saw him over a decade ago as two fans with a dream to make country music.
Keith has achieved the highest praises and successes, whilst also maintaining a reputation for being one of the nicest (and best smelling) guys in country music. He’s an inspiration to not only us, but so many other upcoming country artists in Australia and around the world, and we are so glad to see him on this list.