Keith Ur­ban could add sev­eral more CMA Awards to his 11

Santa Fe New Mexican - - COVER STORY -

Even if fans were sur­prised by his most re­cent al­bum, Keith Ur­ban knew ex­actly what he wanted to do.

The re­sult – “Graf­fiti U” – has made the su­per­star singer-song­writer-gui­tarist a nom­i­nee again in three of the top cat­e­gories in the CMA Awards. He’ll also per­form as ABC airs the 52nd an­nual edi­tion of the Coun­try Mu­sic As­so­ci­a­tion’s honors Wed­nes­day, Nov. 14, from Nash­ville’s Bridge­stone Arena. Team­ing with Brad Pais­ley to host for the 11th con­sec­u­tive year, Car­rie Un­der­wood will be in the same con­di­tion she was at the 2014 event, ex­pect­ing a child (her sec­ond with hockey-vet­eran hus­band Mike Fisher).

Last year’s sin­gle of the year win­ner for “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” Ur­ban surely is no stranger to the CMA Awards. Hav­ing re­ceived 11 of the awards thus far, he now has his 11th nom­i­na­tion for en­ter­tainer of the year and his 14th bid for male vo­cal­ist of the year, and the per­son­ally sig­nif­i­cant “Graf­fiti U” has yielded his sixth try for al­bum of the year.

“It’s a ground­break­ing record in a lot of ways,” the friendly Ur­ban says, “I think a lot of peo­ple thought it was kind of risky when they heard it, but for me as an artist, it felt true and authen­tic. What’s been in­ter­est­ing about it is watch­ing the record take hold as we’ve been tour­ing. I’ve met peo­ple who have been like, ‘I saw you play live, then I went back and heard the record, and I ‘get’ this.’ I love that.”

Still, Ur­ban ad­mits he omit­ted one of its tunes from his con­certs for a while: “There are a lot of things I love about the song ‘Fe­male,’ in­clud­ing the fact that it’s posed as ques­tions, which is a beau­ti­ful way to write a song that’s go­ing to bring out points for dis­cus­sion. When you hear a song say­ing that you run the world, do you be­lieve it?

“I was dev­as­tated, though, when it got picked up by the the me­dia as just be­ing some song about Har­vey We­in­stein. I was gut­ted to my core, be­cause that’s not why I recorded it and that’s not what it’s about. I stopped play­ing it for a mo­ment, be­cause it was be­ing com­pletely mis­rep­re­sented. Then I put it back in, be­cause I knew why I recorded it and what it means to me. It will al­ways be in my set now.”

Af­ter spend­ing much of 2018 tour­ing to sup­port “Graf­fiti U,” Ur­ban will re­sume live per­for­mances in Jan­uary in Aus­tralia – af­ter wife Nicole Kid­man’s movie “De­stroyer” opens for Christ­mas, and be­fore he heads to Eu­rope to play even more dates. “It’s fer­tile fields right now,” he re­flects, “and I’m very grate­ful for it.”

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