Keith Urban won the CMA Award for Entertainer of the Year at the 2018 CMA Awards, held on Wednesday, Nov. 14. The New Zealand-born star was speechless over the honor, which he says never would have happened without the influence of his father, who passed away in 2015.
"I imagine my father because he's such a huge influence in my life, my mom and dad both are, and I wish he could have seen this tonight," Urban shared with PopCulture.com and other media backstage after his big win. "He set me on the path I'm on. But I feel his presence, so I'm very, very grateful for that."
Urban broke down in tears after hearing his name called, beating out Jason Aldean, Luke Bryan, Kenny Chesney and Chris Stapleton to take home the night's highest honor. For Urban, the trophy is validation for the hard work he does, night after night.
"It's an indescribable feeling to get that [award] tonight, cause I love playing," Urban said. "I love entertaining. I love putting on shows. I started playing guitar when I was six, and I came up playing in the clubs, four hours a night, five hours a night, five nights a week. And I wasn't writing songs. I was just schlepping my gear and doing cover tunes and learning my craft. To get to be able to play three, four hours a night of original material is the most extraordinary feeling. And everybody singing along."
"This Graffiti U Tour was so much work putting it on, getting it up and running, but then it just became the most euphoric experience night after night when everybody was singing along with all these new songs," he continued. "That's probably the most incredible feeling. And I almost want to say for me the spirit of commonality is really what's at the center of our concerts. It's finding that thing that we all have in common, and for me right now, it's never been more important times because so much differences, so much diversity, different everything, and that's cool, but the feeling of inclusiveness and finding all those things we got in common is, I think, that's the real center spirit of our concerts."
The 51-year-old pours his heart and soul into every time he takes the stage, not just for the music, but for the people paying to hear his music.
"I really care about every thing that goes on on the stage, even to the point where when someone walks in to an arena, and you come out and you start playing, I want them to know where their money went," Urban said. "I want them to look on stage and go, 'Oh, well there it is right there.' 'Cause I have a conscience. I'm like, 'Where's my money?' And it's not up on stage, so I like the feeling that this person who I am entrusting to take me away for a couple of hours and really give me something, gives me something."
"The best concerts I've ever been to, they didn't impress me, they inspired me," he added. "If we can even come close to doing that, I'll feel like I've done my job."
Photo Credit: Getty images/Terry Wyatt