Keith Urban Recalls Talent Show Judge Who Dissed Him

Nicole Kidman encouraged Keith to join Australian version of The Voice.

Keith Urban, who is currently enjoying a run as coach on the Australian version of The Voice, may be a triple-threat singer, guitarist and songwriter, but he understands the pressures that come with being a budding musician auditioning in a cut-throat music competition.

At 9 years old, Keith competed on the Australian talent competition Pot of Gold, which featured Bernard King, a musical judge known for the acerbic comments he often hurled at contestants. Keith performed a Dolly Parton song—in her key—for the competition, and got some less-than-stellar advice from Bernard. "He said, 'I desperately encourage you to escape the mediocrity and get out of country and western and get into some real music. Otherwise you'll end up sounding like Dolly Parton and be absolutely useless,''' Keith told Queensland, Australia's Courier Mail, laughing. "So that obviously had a big impact on me! And then he said, 'Kindly learn to sing in tune because you are intrinsically a good musician.'''

Obviously, Keith dismissed Bernard's advice to forgo country music, and went on to become one of the genre's most talented performers, not to mention the latest member of the Grand Ole Opry and a talent show coach himself on Australia's The Voice.

Keith admitted that he initially dismissed the idea of coaching on The Voice, until wife Nicole Kidman stepped in.

"I was talking to Nic and [I] said, 'You know that show The Voice? They're going to do one in Australia and they want me to be one of the coaches. I'm not going to do that!''' Keith recalled. His wife encouraged him to watch the American version of The Voice (which features Blake Shelton) and to reconsider.

Now that the superstar is working with his own team of contestants, he's made certain not to follow in Bernard's sarcastic path, and is much kinder to the contestants.

"That kind of cynicism is a downward spiral both in society and with entertainment,'' Keith said. "All the mudslinging on the reality shows is like Jerry Springer 10 years later. Where's the progress? This is not about being dishonest with people, it's about being respectful of how you deliver the truth—which can be awful and it hurts—and finding a way to inspire people while pointing out areas to improve on."

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