Keith Urban opens up about his cruel rejection on a TV talent show as a child

September 15, 2021, 4:33 PM

Keith Urban performing at the iHeartCountry Festival in 2018 and appearing on the talent show Pot Of Gold in 1978.

Photo: Getty/YouTube


By Thomas Curtis Horsfall

At the tender age of 11, Keith Urban had already decided he wanted to be a country music singer.

It was therefore with a fixed heart that the ambitious Australian took part in the talent show Pot Of Gold, singing a cover of “Applejack” by Dolly Parton to seduce the judges.

But once his sweet portrayal was over, what followed stayed with Keith Urban for the rest of his life.

As the multi-Grammy award-winning artist prepares to become a judge on The Voice Australia, he relives the harsh criticism he received that could have easily ended his career before it even began.

Pot Of Gold lead judge Bernard King had a reputation similar to that of Simon Cowell in the late 70s, and didn’t hold back after 11-year-old Keith wrapped up his cover of Dolly.

Despite the criticism major stars regularly face, this specific incident still haunts Keith Urban, as he detailed in a recent interview with The Daily Telegraph.

“I desperately encourage you to escape mediocrity, get out of country and western music and get into some real music, or you’ll end up sounding like Dolly Parton and utterly useless.” King castigated Keith at the time.

Keith recalls: “He said, ‘Learn to sing nicely in tune, because you’re inherently a good musician’ and I remember saying to mum and dad, ‘What does ‘intrinsically’ mean? ?'”

Even after an incident that might have deterred even the most feisty adults, let alone an 11-year-old, Keith snapped another photo during a TV show. New faces five years later in 1983.

Now 16, he was once again on the wrong side of criticism from the talent show judges.

This time, while singing a cover of Air Supply’s “All Out Of Love,” he was bowled over by each of the judges who said he still needed a lot of improvement.

However, taking a verbal beating twice when such a young man could only have strengthened his determination to become a successful musician.

This prompted him, after the release of his self-titled debut album, to move to Nashville, Tennessee in 1992.

Keith Urban performing at the Country To Country Festival in Berlin, 2019. (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Redferns)

Keith Urban performing at the Country To Country Festival in Berlin, 2019. (Photo by Frank Hoensch/Redferns).

Image: Getty


And we all know how it went, with Keith Urban having sold over 15 million albums and had over 20 number one singles since then.

He clung to his guns, chased his dream, and is now widely regarded as one of country music’s great contemporaries.

Now, as he returned to the stand of one of the judges’ chairs on The voice in his country of origin, the roles have turned.

But in this twist of fate, let’s hope he uses his experiences as a talent show contestant to help another budding star pursue his dreams.

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