Even as Keith Urban's hit "Somebody Like You" blasted through every country fan's radio, the Australian star found himself silenced by a polyp on his vocal cord. After taking a breather, including two weeks when he literally couldn't speak at all, Urban has returned to the road to support his second album, Golden Road. Here, Urban catches up with Nashville reporters curious about his condition.
Look for Keith Urban on MWL Star on Tuesday (April 8) at 10 p.m. ET/PT.
What exactly was the problem and are you 100 percent out of the woods now?
I'm about 90-something percent out of the woods. I had a polyp on my right vocal cord that's been there for years, and I've just managed to be able to keep it at bay. For some reason across the last few months, I think a lot of the work we did last year caught up with me.
To back up a little bit, where I got caught off guard is, we released "Somebody Like You," and we thought we had quite a bit of time to get in and finish the record. Then the single took off and we had to release the record a little quicker than we anticipated. That pushed up all the release work that had to be done in a promotional area, as well as all the gigs we had. So I found myself doing maybe two or three times the amount of work that we had planned in a very short space of time, and it really took its toll on me. I wasn't necessarily taking the best care of myself at the time either and just working too much basically. So my right vocal cord hemorrhaged just before a gig in January. I got through the gig, but the next day I was barely able to speak.
That week we were supposed to go to New York to do a bunch of television. And I went to Vanderbilt [Voice Center] thinking they'd give me a little shot and I'd be on my way. I literally was going from there to the airport. That was my plan and they said "No, you're not going anywhere." It really upset me because I had these tremendous television shows in New York to do. Not only did they then get cancelled, but they put me on further six weeks voice rest, so it's been a strange time.
Was that frightening for you?
It still is. When you get reminded of the vulnerability of your livelihood, you get very nervous about taking care of it and drinking a lot of water and making sure that you do sleep. And not yelling out. Just simple human things you have a tendency to do. We were skiing a little while ago, and I was going up in the chair lift and there were some of our skiing partners down there. And my skiing instructor was like, "Just yell out to them." And I was about to yell out and something inside said, "Don't yell." This is one of those things you've got to avoid and take care of your voice. But, yeah, it's a very nervous thing for me to be aware of it.
How did you communicate?
I carried a little white board around with me with a marker and wrote. But in the end I just stayed around people who knew me best, and they sort of knew what I was talking about. Or not talking about actually.
What was the first concert like, since coming off voice rest?
I was really nervous. As much rehearsal as we'd put in a week before I literally hadn't played a guitar in about a month. "Absence makes the heart grow fonder" applies to your instrument, too. Sometimes not picking it up for a month can be really beneficial too, as far as the passion with which you attack it with. But I didn't think about my fingers losing their muscular nature, and the tips of my fingers hurt. I haven't felt like that in 20-some-odd years. But within two gigs -- back again. It's all good, and the crowd was very sympathetic and compassionate so I was very grateful.
Have you noticed any change in the sound of your voice?
It seems a little smoother than it was, definitely when the cords don't have any of the garbage on them that mine did. They smooth out quite a bit. My voice has been a bit more nasally recently with the allergies here in wonderful Tennessee, but I'm getting through that.
What sort of regimen did the doctors prescribe?
It's drinking copious amounts of water and really ensuring that I sleep. I think water and sleep are two huge things that you tend to neglect. My management has also been great at restructuring a lot of my schedule to accommodate that. Being aware that this is what it's all about. Once [the voice] goes, all the rest is out the window anyway.
Was that a productive time for you to write since you couldn't speak?
I actually don't think I wrote at all. For me it was just an input time. I found you just listen a lot more. What a concept. It was educational.
Did that make you a better listener, to not be able to talk?
Yeah, it kind of forces you to listen. I think a lot of the times when you are listening to people, you're thinking about what you're going to say next, and you're not really listening.
You had the gift of silence and not even having the interruption of your own words to your thoughts. Did you come to any revelations?
It's helped me slow down a bit. Hopefully it's changed some of the way I perform as well. I still wrestle sometimes between having to get out there and give 150 percent, where really -- anything past 100 percent -- does anyone really notice the difference? If you're giving all of yourself, that's it. Hopefully I can learn to focus a little more. I have a tendency to be a bit of a loose cannon sometimes, so this time off has helped me look at that. I guess I used to be one of those ready, fire, aim guys. So hopefully that's now changed.
Keith Urban is singing again after giving his voice a
doctored-ordered rest -- and the break came with a bonus.
Urban tells CMT that during several weeks of voice rest
early this year, he stopped drinking. "That's been a really good blessing
in my life, and that's helped in so many
areas," he says. "The touring is the most fun it's ever
been because it's about the music all over again." Urban,
touring with Kenny Chesney, says it took a while to get
back into his groove. The Australia-born singer is not
the only country artist ordered to go into voice rest
this year -- Randy Travis, Alison Krauss, Pam Tillis
and Trick Pony lead singer Heidi Newfield took similar
URBAN, WORLEY PERFORM AT ACM AWARDS
Add Keith Urban and Darryl Worley to the list of artists
performing at next week's Academy of Country Music Awards
show in Las Vegas. The academy also announced Vince Gill
will present the Entertainer of the Year award. Urban,
nominated for Single Record of the Year and the Reigning
New Male Vocalist, will sing "Raining on Sunday." Worley,
up for Top New Male Artist, will perform "Have You
Forgotten?" Wednesday night's awards show, hosted by Reba
McIntyre, will be carried on CBS.
CMT Celebrates the 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music With Landmark Six-Hour Special Including Live Concert Counting Down Top 12 Songs on the Elite List
Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Kenny Chesney, LeAnn Rimes, Deana Carter, Sara Evans, Marty Stuart, Glen Campbell and George Jones to Perform
They are the songs we know by heart, they tug at our heartstrings, bring back memories and help make new ones. They are the songs that paint the landscapes of our youth and stand beside us through our journey of life. They are the 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music, and CMT will count them down in the remarkable six-hour special debuting on Sunday, June 8 at 4 p.m. ET/PT. Hosted by hit recording artist Keith Urban (Golden Road) and actress Kimberly Williams-Paisley (According to Jim), the special will showcase these amazing songs with a documentary counting down from numbers 100 through 13 and will climax with a concert counting down the Top 12 songs with performances by some of country's biggest artists.
The documentary portion of the special includes a wealth of entertainers talking about their favorite country songs including Lisa Marie Presley, Shania Twain, Tim McGraw, Tori Amos, Leigh Nash (Sixpence None the Richer), George Lopez (The George Lopez Show), Kenny Rogers, Kix Brooks, Ronnie Dunn, Clint Black, Darryl McDaniels (Run DMC), Deana Carter, Dwight Yoakam, Hank Williams Jr., Jo Dee Messina, Joe Nichols, John Michael Montgomery, Kris Kristofferson, Lorrie Morgan, Martina McBride, Marty Stuart, Pam Tillis, Pamela Anderson, Rosanne Cash, Sandra Bernhard, Tanya Tucker, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, Travis Tritt, Vince Gill and Wynonna Judd, among others.
On the eve of Fan Fair, the world's biggest country music festival, CMT will stage one of the biggest concerts of the summer as some of country's most popular artists take to the stage to perform the Top 12 songs of CMT's elite list. The musical extravaganza will take place at Nashville's Gaylord Entertainment Center on Wednesday, June 4 at 7:30 p.m. CT and will be taped for telecast as part of the remarkable six-hour special, 100 Greatest Songs of Country Music. Country fans in Nashville will get the opportunity to see the countdown and the Top 12 songs performed live by Vince Gill, Martina McBride, Kenny Chesney, LeAnn Rimes, Deana Carter, Sara Evans, Marty Stuart, Glen Campbell and George Jones and more artists soon to be announced. Steve Wariner will also act as the evening's music director.
Considering that Keith Urban grew up in New Zealand and cultivates an image that's more Kelly Clarkson than Roy Clark, one might be tempted to doubt his abilities when it comes to Nashville hit making. On GOLDEN ROAD, however, Urban delivers a solid set of contemporary country with more panache and chops than many of his American-born, cowboy-hatted contemporaries. A virtuoso picker who credits Lindsay Buckingham as a primary influence, Urban has fashioned a highly melodic country/alternative-rock fusion that's equal parts Fleetwood Mac, Rodney Crowell, and Third Eye Blind. On several tunes, twangy vocals and banjo blend seamlessly with distorted Lynyrd Skynryd-style guitar leads and the pounding drums of rocker Matt Chamberlain (David Bowie, Tori Amos, Dave Navarro). In addition, Urban wisely avoids using Music City cookie-cutter material, instead favoring mature tunes from left-of-center stalwarts such as Crowell and Radney Foster. Overall, GOLDEN ROAD offers few real surprises, but serves as a welcome reminder of Nashville's occasional ability to produce music that's simultaneously slick and substantial. -vh1.com