After months of speculation about who will be joining the next season of "American Idol," over the weekend it was confirmed that Keith Urban will bring some of his Nashville-by-way-of-Australia flair to the judges' table.
He joins fellow newbies Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj (as well as "Idol" vet Randy Jackson) for the latest incarnation of the hit Fox singing competition series. With filming already underway and the revamped judging panel locked in, Urban comes to the show with some serious judging experience and will add some much-needed country expertise to the panel. "Idol," over the course of its run, has not only churned out pop and R&B stars, but also country singers like Carrie Underwood.
Before it was confirmed, Urban left his post on the Australian version of "The Voice," citing "other commitments." "I've been so fortunate to have been a part of 'The Voice'. And as much as I'd love to do it again, it's clear that the recording and promoting of a new album, a tour and other commitments will keep me from being a part of the second season," he said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter about his departure from the program.
Before he joined reality TV, Urban was already a music star with 20 years of music experience under his belt. Shortly after signing a record deal in his native Australia and releasing his first self-titled studio album in 1991, Urban moved to Nashville, where he worked with acts like Brooks & Dunn and Alan Jackson. In between solo albums, he formed a band called the Ranch and was a studio musician for Garth Brooks and the Dixie Chicks in the mid-'90s, before going solo once again for his self-titled sophomore effort.
As the new millennium approached, Urban's star was on the rise, thanks to several albums like Golden Road, Be Here and Love, Pain & the Whole Crazy Thing, but Urban really hit it big and found crossover success in 2009 with the release of Defying Gravity, which featured his crossover track, "Kiss a Girl." Interestingly enough he appeared on "Idol" that year, where he performed with Kris Allen.
Urban currently has four Grammy Awards, has scored 14 #1 singles in the United States and six platinum albums. On top of his musical expertise, the star also brings celebrity appeal. He is married to Oscar-winner Nicole Kidman, with whom he has two daughters, Sunday and Faith. Having Urban, 44, on the show, makes "Idol" an even more formidable opponent for the likes of "The Voice," which features its own country music superstar Blake Shelton.
"It's really an honor to have been invited to be a part of the 'American Idol' family," Urban said in a statement about the "American Idol" gig. "I'm looking forward to working with everyone and to seeing the same passion that I have for music in all of the participants."