American Idol winner Carrie Underwood isn't the only former reality show contestant among "The Fighter's" co-vocalists: 16-year-old Keith Urban appeared on long-running Australian talent show New Faces way back in 1983.
Long before his years with The Ranch and his sustained fame as a country singer, the Whangarei, New Zealand native covered Aussie legends Air Supply's "All Out of Love" on New Faces. The TV talent show hosts offered some friendly advice for the budding singer, including tips on vocal delivery and encouragement to form a band. Whether or not he took that advice on board at the time, both changes came long before Urban's road to country music stardom culminated with his self-titled 1999 debut album. And as one of the judges implies, this all happened while young Urban was dressed like a member of the Bay City Rollers.
The Australian version of New Faces aired for 24 seasons beginning in 1963. It preceded the British series of the same name.
It wasn't Urban's first time appearing on reality television. At age 9, a judge on a different show knocked the future country music star's stylistic choices.
"He said, 'I desperately encourage you to escape the mediocrity and get out of country and western and get into some real music. Otherwise you'll end up sounding like Dolly Parton and be absolutely useless,'' Urban told Australian newspaper, the Courier Mail. "So that obviously had a big impact on me! And then he said, 'Kindly learn to sing in tune because you are intrinsically a good musician.'"
Country Radio Seminar's unrelated New Faces of Country Music series of annual concerts has spotlighted Urban's talents twice: in 1998 with The Ranch and in 2000 as the band-leading singer, songwriter and guitarist who's since dominated Nashville.
It's hard to imagine a household name like Keith Lionel Urban before studio albums like Fuse, Ripcord and Graffiti U; successful CMA and ACM Awards' Entertainer of the Year campaigns; four Grammy Awards; consistent success on the Billboard charts; duets with Pink and other popular artists and a celebrity family with his wife Nicole Kidman and their daughters, Sunday Rose and Faith Margaret. Yet here he is, viewing a radio announcer gig as his golden road to country superstar status in faraway Tennessee.
More recently, Urban's worked as a judge on Australia's version of The Voice for the show's debut season before playing a smaller role on the American series, which features country peer Blake Shelton. Urban also served as an American Idol judge alongside Nicki Minaj and other popular stars.
This story originally ran on Feb. 25, 2020.
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