Keith Urban received a surprise gift at a recent benefit concert in Nashville - an invitation to join the famed Grand Ole Opry, and said he shares the honor, one of the most prestigious for country music artists, with wife Nicole Kidman and their two daughters.
His co-headliner, Vince Gill, made the announcement at the Country Music Hall of Fame & Museum's "All For The Hall" fundraiser on Tuesday. Gill called the band Rascal Flatts to come to the stage to stand near Urban. The musicians, who are all Opry members, then presented him with a large black duffel bag. He unzipped it to reveal the Opry's signature microphone stand, a prop used in previous surprise induction invitations.
"We would like to invite Keith Urban to be the next member of the Grand Ole Opry!" Gill said.
Urban held his head in his hands for several seconds amid cheers from the crowd of about 16,000 people.
"I'm shocked, I gotta say," he said. "It's a huge honor and how beautiful to have this happen tonight, of all nights. I've been here 20 years this year and 1989 was the first year I came over from Australia to take my demo around to all of the record labels and I got a lot of strange looks but I really wanted to make Nashville home and I managed to do it over the next few years."
"This means the world to me," Urban added. "I share this tonight with my wife Nicole and our daughters Sunday Rose and Faith Margaret."
Urban, who was born in New Zealand and grew up in Australia, will be the first artist from outside of North America to join the Opry. He has been married to Kidman, who also grew up in Australia, since 2006. Their daughter Sunday Rose is 3 and Faith Margaret is 1.
The Grand Ole Opry is a radio show featuring performances by its lineup of cast members, which also includes Carrie Underwood, Blake Shelton and Reba McEntire, as well as guest country artists.
Fans can purchase tickets to the concerts, which take place at the Grand Ole Opry House in Nashville. Urban's induction ceremony is also open to the public and is scheduled for April 21 (buy tickets). The show also features singer Josh Turner, who joined in 2007.In September 2011, Gill surprised Rascall Flatts with an invitation to join the Opry at the band's concert at the venue. In 2007, Charlie Daniels, known for the song "The Devil Went Down To Georgia," received his invite from Opry member Martina McBride at his Christmas For Kids benefit show at Nashville's Ryman Auditorium, a former Opry venue, which was refurbished earlier this year. Urban was named radio's most played country artist in 2009, has had 14 No. 1 hits and has sold more than 15 million albums.
He has won five Academy of Country Music Awards and earned four Grammy Awards for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for his songs "Stupid Boy," "You'll Think of Me," "Somebody Like You" and "Sweet Thing." He performed the latter track, as well as "You Gonna Fly," at Tuesday's "All For The Hall" concert.