Keith Urban Adds Ambassador to His List of Accolades

"I can't imagine my life if I had not had a guitar in my hands," he says

Photo: Gary Miller/FilmMagic

The Country Music Association has previously named Keith Urban their Best New Artist (way back in 2001); Male Vocalist of the Year (2004-2006) and Entertainer of the Year (2005). And on Thursday, they bestowed the superstar with a new title: Ambassador.

Urban was announced as the first representative of the CMA’s new initiative, Music Education Matters during the first day of the CMA Country Music Festival in Nashville and was then serenaded by a choir of kids from Nashville’s JFK Middle School and Antioch High School with a performance of his hit “Days Gone By.”

“That was amazing!” he said as he applauded them. “That was beautiful! I love you guys, thank you!”

Urban has long touted the crucial importance of music education in schools along with academics and sports. “Music is sometimes the only expression for kids who don’t fit in, who are frustrated, troubled, very inward and don’t know how to express themselves,” says Urban.

“It is so important to get instruments into kids’ hands and the education to go along with them. Otherwise they have something in their hands they don’t know what to do with,” he says. “But put an instrument in their hands they connect with and the education to go with it, and they come to life with something to speak for them. Their world changes. I can’t imagine my life if I had not had a guitar in my hands. I would not have had this life I have now.”

Urban also noted that he and wife Nicole Kidman provide the tools for their girls, Sunday – who he noted with a smile and shake of his head will turn 7 next month – and 4-year-old Faith to explore their musical tendencies on their own.

“We have a piano, a guitar on a stand and a little drum kit for them to play around with if that’s something they gravitate to,” says Urban. “Mostly I’m introducing them to rhythm. If there’s a beat on the radio, I get them to pound it out on the table or the car seat or their legs, whatever is handy! I just want to help them make that connection.”

After it was announced Urban was donating 60 guitars to the CMA Foundation for distribution in local schools, he performed his new single “John Cougar, John Deere, John 3:16.”

Along with Darius Rucker, Eric Church and Brad Paisley, Urban will close out the 44th Annual Music Fest Sunday night at LP Field, then head to Sheridan, Wyoming for the Big Horn Country Music Festival.

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