As the world reeled at last month’s deadly mass shooting during Jason Aldean's performance in Las Vegas, Nevada, fellow country crooner Keith Urban remained in shock at the “indescribable” horror.
During an exclusive interview with ET in Nashville, Tennessee, on Tuesday, Urban opened up about how he reached out to Aldean in the wake of the tragedy and how he hopes to show support and solidarity as Aldean returns to the stage at CMT’s Artist of the Year event on Wednesday.
“I texted him the day after Vegas and that's just an indescribable thing to go through for everybody,” Urban told ET’s Sophie Schillaci at CMT rehearsals. “But to be on stage and sing now too ... we're going to all be joining him I think. So, solidarity. [Country music] is a community and you really feel it in times like this, whether it’s weather-related or just insanity in Vegas-related -- we really rally as a community.”
More than 50 people were killed and hundreds injured during the deadliest shooting in U.S. history, which happened during Aldean's closing set at the Route 91 Harvest festival, in the heart of the Las Vegas Strip.
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The upcoming CMT awards show altered its usual format following the incident, with the focus now on hope and healing. Urban says the night will also honor country music fans.
“I thought it was important, along with everybody here, to acknowledge the importance of the fans, the audience,” he explained. “What happened in Vegas was our community, our family, so I think we all agreed it was really important for us to highlight their importance in our lives.”
Despite the grim events leading up to the show, the occasion marks a joyful honor for Urban, who will be celebrated as an Artist of the Year. The Whangarei, New Zealand-born star shared how the honor is extra special during what has been a life-changing year with the ongoing success of his Ripcord album and tour.
“Just to be amongst this group of people being honored this year is huge,” said the father of two. “It's been a magical year, particularly for my audience, who have been so passionate and so supportive of Ripcord and the tour. It’s changed my life, really.”
But while the focus may have been on Ripcord, behind the scenes, Urban has been busy working on new music, having started to “piece an album together” since January. Vaguely teasing that the record will have a “spirit of its own,” Urban also dished on what he sees as the keys to writing a good love song -- honesty and vulnerability.
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Then of course, there’s Urban’s biggest inspiration for penning love ballads -- his gorgeous Australian wife, Nicole Kidman, who will be by his side on Wednesday night. Describing their union as “best friends as well as married,” the country crooner said he always feels better seeing the Oscar-winning actress in the audience when he’s performing -- or doing anything really!
“Everything in life,” he gushed. “Not just performing -- everything.”
There was one more thing that ET had to grill Urban about, and even loud drumming from background rehearsals (which Urban laughed off as a track on his new record called “Intrusive Drums”) couldn’t get in the way -- American Idol!
Urban previously served as a judge on the reality singing competition and said he’s stoked that his pal and fellow country star Luke Bryan has now joined the revamped series.
“He's going to do awesome,” Urban said. “[He’s] perfect for that. Absolutely. I congratulated him, but I haven't heard anything about how it's been going. I think they're in auditions right now.”
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“I had a blast doing that show,” he added, addressing whether he would ever return to the series himself. “But the record-making process with me is such a time-consuming thing that I am thrilled to be able to be in the studio as obsessively as I get to be right now.”
See Urban talk more about CMT honors in the video below.