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Keith Urban Talks 'Graffiti U,' Julia Michaels & MusiCares | SXSW 2018

Keith Urban

Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

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Keith Urban Talks 'Graffiti U,' Julia Michaels & MusiCares | SXSW 2018

From his musical upbringing to his new album and sobriety, the GRAMMY-winning singer/songwriter went deep during his keynote discussion at SXSW

GRAMMYs/Mar 17, 2018 - 04:06 am

As if SXSW 2018 doesn't have enough cool stuff going on — the panels, the bands, the networking, the parties, the culture of Austin, Texas — one of this year's keynote speaker sweetened the deal just a little bit more.

GRAMMY winner Keith Urban took the stage in conversation with GRAMMY Museum Executive Director and "Required Listening" podcast host Scott Goldman on March 16. The duo covered a wide range of topics, including the singer/songwriter's early music memories, how Ricky Skaggs influenced his career, the art of collaboration, memorable career advice, and why he's a huge fan of MusiCares and Post Malone.

The New Zealand native was quick to credit his drummer father for turning him onto his love of country. As a 5-year-old, Urban had the chance to see the legendary Johnny Cash in concert, which captured the young artist's imagination.

"What I remember from that concert is just how loud the crowd was," Urban recalled. "I remember just the roar of everybody when this guy walked out on the stage and it's never left me, and the power of when he played guitar and sang was an extraordinary thing."

By age 6, Urban was taking guitar lessons and learning from the country records spinning in his parents' house as well as the local bands in his area. When he discovered the "chicken pickin'" style of guitar players such as Skaggs, the deal was sealed.

Urban also discussed how his unique musicality stems from his affinity for collaborations. Not only has he recorded with other country artists but he's also worked across many genres, including artists as diverse as the Rolling Stones, Carrie Underwood, Alicia Keys, John Mayer, Aerosmith's Steven Tyler, and many more.

Indeed, his upcoming studio album, Graffiti U, will feature a collaboration with "Issues" singer/songwriter Julia Michaels, as well as borrowing a sample from country great Merle Haggard on another track.

Julia Michaels Deconstructs "Issues," Writing Songs | "Required Listening" Podcast

For his part, Urban feels collaborations keep his music fresh while also playing to his appreciation for all music genres and their creators, whether they are an EDM electronic-only musician or the classic instrumentalist.

"I'm a big believer that it's all still musicianship," said Urban. "If you're doing it on your MacBook Pro or you don't play an instrument … they still have to compose these things like a painter putting paint together in a such a way that it creates a compelling image. That's as valid to me as a guy sitting there playing guitar."

Urban further solidified his stance when asked by an audience member about his current favorite contemporary artist outside of country music.

"Post Malone because he's got his own thing, it's insane," Urban answered. "I don't even know what it is. I don't think he knows what it is, which is beautiful. It's just an incredible fusion of things — singer/songwriter, hip-hop, R&B, soul. It's just all out there and I love it."

His penchant for fusing genres and forging his own path as a singer/songwriter, while it looks effortless now, wasn't always an asset to Urban. He recalled his early days playing shows around Nashville, Tenn., when a record label employee followed his band religiously, yet there was no indication the label wanted to sign him. When the guitarist finally asked why, the employee had some sage words of wisdom for the emerging artist.

"You're just really unique and it'll be your biggest curse until it becomes greatest blessing,'" Urban recounted. "And as cheesy as that might sound … what I took from that was stay the course and it's just going to take time."

With Goldman guiding the conversation, Urban went deeper on more personal topics, including his path to sobriety.

"It's such a personal thing, sobriety, for each person," Urban said about his journey. "I wished I gotten sober many, many years before I did but it is what it is. I'm glad that I finally got here almost 12 years later. I think for me it's made it possible to do the things I do."

Urban revealed that the Recording Academy-affiliated charity MusiCares was a driving force behind him getting help in the 1990s. The organization's MAP Fund helped pay for his first rehabilitation treatment, which is part of the reason he has lent his support to not only MusiCares but other charitable causes throughout his career.

To conclude the panel, audience members expressed their appreciation for Urban's music, including fans from as far away as Canada, Brazil and France. For Urban, who will play a special showcase at SXSW at Stubb's BBQ on March 16, it's clear that his reach will continue to make waves in the music industry for years to come.

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

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Allen Hughes' "The Defiant Ones" Wins Best Music Film | 2018 GRAMMY

Director Allen Hughes' four-part documentary takes home Best Music Film honors for its portrayal of the unlikely partnership that changed the music business

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 02:09 am

The team behind The Defiant Ones celebrated a big win for Best Music Film at the 60th GRAMMY Awards. The crew awarded include director Allen Hughes and producers Sarah Anthony, Fritzi Horstman, Broderick Johnson, Gene Kirkwood, Andrew Kosove, Laura Lancaster, Michael Lombardo, Jerry Longarzo, Doug Pray & Steven Williams.

In a year rife with quality music documentaries and series, the bar has been set high for this dynamic category. The Defiant Ones is a four-part HBO documentary telling the story of an unlikely duo taking the music business by storm seems better suited for fantastical pages of a comic book, but for engineer-turned-mogul Jimmy Iovine and super-producer Dr. Dre, it's all truth.The Defiant Ones recounts their histories, their tribulations and their wild success. These include first-hand accounts from those who were there in Iovine's early days, such as Bruce Springsteen and U2's Bono, as well as those on board when Dre and Iovine joined forces, such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem.

The competition was stiff as the category was filled with compelling films such as One More Time With Feeling, Two Trains Runnin', Soundbreaking, and Long Strange Trip. 

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam

Photo: Kevin Mazur/WireImage.com

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Pearl Jam Named Record Store Day 2019 Ambassadors

Pearl Jam's Mike McCready says "if you love music," record stores are the place to find it

GRAMMYs/Feb 13, 2019 - 04:05 am

Record Store Day 2019 will arrive on April 13 and this year's RSD Ambassadors are Pearl Jam. Past ambassadors include Dave Grohl, Metallica, Run The Jewels (Killer Mike and El-P), and 61st GRAMMY Awards winner for Best Rock Song St. Vincent.

McCready was also the 2018 recipient of MusiCares' Stevie Ray Vaughan Award

The band was formed in 1990 by McCready, Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, and Eddie Vedder, and they have played with drummer Matt Cameron since 2002. They have had five albums reach No. 1 on the Billboard 200 and four albums reach No. 2.

"Pearl Jam is honored to be Record Store Day's Ambassador for 2019. Independent record stores are hugely important to me," Pearl Jam's Mike McCready said in a statement publicizing the peak-vinyl event. "Support every independent record store that you can. They're really a good part of society. Know if you love music, this is the place to find it."

With a dozen GRAMMY nominations to date, Pearl Jam's sole win so far was at the 38th GRAMMY Awards for "Spin The Black Circle" for Best Hard Rock Performance.

Pearl Jam will be performing on March 3 in Tempe, Ariz. at the Innings festival, on June 15 in Florence, Italy at the Firenze Rocks Festival and at another festival in Barolo, Italy on June 17. On July 6 Pearl Jam will headline London's Wembley Stadium.

Seattle's Museum Of Pop Culture To Host Pearl Jam Exhibit

Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

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Portugal. The Man To Aida Cuevas: Backstage At The 2018 GRAMMYs

Also see James Fauntleroy, Reba McIntire, Latroit, and more after they stepped off the GRAMMY stage

GRAMMYs/Jan 29, 2018 - 05:39 am

What do artists do the moment they walk off the GRAMMY stage from presenting, accepting an award or performing? Now, you can find out.

Take a peak at Album Of The Year GRAMMY winner Bruno Mars, 60th GRAMMY Awards Host James Cordon, Cardi B minutes before her electrifying performance of "Finesse," and more!

Also see Best Pop Duo/Group Performance GRAMMY winners Portugal. The Man posing with their first career GRAMMY Award, Best Roots Gospel Album GRAMMY winner Reba McIntire right after she walked offstage, Best R&B Song GRAMMY winner James Fauntleroy, Best Remixed Recording GRAMMY winner Latroit, and many more, with these photos from backstage during the 60th GRAMMY Awards.

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

Lady Gaga

Photo: Anthony Harvey/Getty Images

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Lady Gaga Steps In To Support Youth Impacted By Hurricanes

GRAMMY winner pledges support for those impacted by hurricanes this year through Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program

GRAMMYs/Oct 12, 2017 - 11:03 pm

On Oct. 10 Lady Gaga announced she is devoting her $1 million donation in support of those impacted by the recent hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico and the earthquakes in Mexico, to a specific cause — the mental and emotional well being of children and youth.

Gaga announced on her Born This Way Foundation website she will support Save the Children’s Journey of Hope program, which uses a variety of tools to help young people deal with trauma in the wake of natural disasters.

"Through a curriculum that includes cooperative play, discussion, art, meditation, and mindfulness practices, young people learn to recognize and understand their emotions and develop healthy coping skills," Gaga wrote. "Tens of thousands of youth have benefited from the program since it’s development in the wake of Hurricane Katrina and Save the Children is working to bring it to hundreds of thousands more in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico."

The announcement came on World Mental Health Day, and the Fame Monster has invited all of us to step up and consider making a contribution to the Journey of Hope program to support to mental and emotional needs of children.

"Mental health is just as vital to our wellbeing as physical health. That’s true for each of us, everyday, but it’s especially important for those coping with disaster and recovering from trauma," wrote Lady Gaga. "We must do everything within our power to support the full, vibrant recovery of these communities, from meeting their immediate needs to helping them to rebuild sustainably."

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