How a Devastating Fire Inspired Keith Urban to Want to Give Back

The singer is honored with the 2016 CRS Humanitarian Award

Photo: Rick Diamond/Getty

Being the victim of a childhood house fire has been Keith Urban‘s inspiration for a lifetime of paying it forward, and on Monday, that generosity was rewarded with the Country Radio Broadcasters 2016 Artist Humanitarian Award.

During the award presentation, Urban told how his family home in Caboolture, Australia, burned to the ground when he was 9 years old, about a year after his parents had joined a country music club in nearby Brisbane.

“We were all okay, but we lost all our belongings, which wasn’t much, but it was everything we had,” Urban, 48, recalled. “And without hesitation, our country music club immediately put on a fundraiser for us.”

That early experience is often what comes to Urban’s mind when he’s asked: What is country music? “There’s always so many answers to that,” he said, “but the one thing I really believe to be true, no matter where you come from, is it’s about community.”

The award was presented at the opening of the Country Radio Seminar, broadcasters’ annual gathering in Nashville. Last year’s recipients, Lady Antebellum, did the honors of giving Urban the trophy – a rare public appearance since the trio, Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood, are currently on a post-tour hiatus.

“Most of [Urban’s charity] efforts we’ll never know, because he’s that humble,” Haywood said in his introduction. “He’s a true humanitarian from the depths of his being.”

Urban thanked his wife, actress Nicole Kidman, who was at the event, and he noted her charity efforts, as well. “I’m just extremely grateful that I’ve been able to bring a spotlight – my wife and I both have – to causes that mean something to us and hopefully can benefit from it,” he said.

Among the beneficiaries of Urban’s charity work over the years are the Make-A-Wish Foundation, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, MusiCares, Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, and the Navy SEAL Foundation.

Together, he and Vince Gill have raised almost $3 million for the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum with their series of “All for the Hall” concerts that have filled Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena over the years.

The sixth “All for the Hall” will be April 12. Besides Urban and Gill, the lineup will also include Luke Bryan, Florida Georgia Line, Peter Frampton, Emmylou Harris, Sam Hunt, Jason Isbell, Maddie & Tae, and Maren Morris.

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