Carrie Underwood, Keith Urban show us how it’s done

Carrie and Keith overcome setbacks, never lose sight of ‘The Prize’

Two country artists have chalked up remarkable career achievements in the past few days. And both can serve as an inspiration to those who are just beginning a career in music.

Carrie Underwood

First of all, congrats and kudos to Carrie Underwood who is celebrating a major career milestone. The CMA Vocalist of the Year has scored her 25th Number One with her current single, “Dirty Laundry.” The song marks Underwood’s 22nd chart-topping hit on country radio, but when you add in a Billboard Hot 100 Number One (“Inside Your Heaven”) plus her two Number Ones on the Hot Country Songs chart (“Something Bad” and “Something in the Water”), she has scored a total of twenty five chart toppers.

Meanwhile, a few days ago, Keith Urban made certain of a spot in music history when his single, “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” simultaneously topped FOUR major charts. The song was Number One on Billboard Country Airplay, Hot Country Songs, Country Digital Song Sales and Country Streaming charts.

Keith Urban. Photo credit: American Idol

Urban is only the third artist to achieve this feat, following Jason Aldean (“Burning It Down,” 2014) and Luke Bryan (Play It Again,” 2014). “Blue Ain’t Your Color” is Urban’s twenty-first Billbioard Country Airplay Number One.

It might seem that both Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban are just plain lucky but that is definitely NOT the case. Both artists had to overcome disappointments and setbacks before they achieved the success they enjoy today.

Record deal falls apart

Underwood was born in Muskogee, Oklahoma, where her father worked in a sawmill and her mom taught elementary school. At age 14, she went to Nashville and auditioned for Capitol Records. She must have felt she was on the way to fame when Capitol prepared to sign her to the label. But it wasn’t to be: the label’s management changed and, as a result, the plans for her record deal were scrapped.

That might have been enough to discourage most young artists, but not Underwood. Looking back on that roadblock, she said, “I honestly think it’s a lot better that nothing came out of it now, because I wouldn’t have been ready then. Everything has a way of working out.”

She went back to Oklahoma, finished her high school and college education, graduating magna cum laude from Northeastern State University with a degree in mass communication. But music was still her passion and, having polished her musical experience over the years, she auditioned for American Idol and went on to win Season Four, becoming one of the most successful artists, not only in Idol history but also in all of country music.

Urban makes the big move

Keith Urban found a measure of ‘local’ success in Australia after moving there from his native New Zealand. Like Underwood, Urban saw talent contests as a way to further his career, competing in Australia’s ‘New Faces’ show. In 1992, he made the momentous decision to leave behind that local fame and move to the USA where he was a virtual unknown, finding work as a session guitarist and then starting a band, The Ranch, that had some success on Capitol Records. Meanwhile, he was becoming an increasingly successful songwriter, scoring cuts on Toby Keith and 4 Runner, among others.

His solo career took off with a self-titled album that produced his first Number One single with more to follow. But success took its toll and Urban became addicted to cocaine. For many artists, this would be the beginning of the end; the start of a spiral into obscurity.

However, Urban found the strength to fight and overcome his addiction with the help of a rehab program and the support of a loving wife and family. He has gone on to become one of country music’s most consistently successful stars with a string of Number One hits and a mantle full of industry awards. Echoing his own career-launching participation in talent shows, he has served as judge on The Voice in Australia and American Idol in the USA.

Setbacks are opportunities in disguise

In many ways, Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban serve as inspirations for aspiring artists and songwriters. In Underwood’s case, she saw the collapse of her initial record deal not as a career-killer but as an opportunity to go back and work on improving her skills as a performer so she was truly ready for the big time when the Idol opportunity came her way. Urban had the strength of faith in his abilities to leave his homeland and start over in the USA… and then virtually re-start again after beating his addiction.

Both had the perseverance to keep their eyes on the prize. Your music career will inevitably face obstacles but if you see each obstacle as a learning experience rather than as a career-ender, you will be better prepared when the next opportunity presents itself. Make a pledge to yourself to persevere, to develop ‘staying power,’ to persist in achieving your goal of a rewarding career in music. Remind yourself that all of today’s top stars faced times of despair and disappointment. But they persevered until they achieved the success of which they never lost sight!

Protect your online presence!

Check out – and note the ‘official’ in the address if you want to reach the ‘correct’ Carrie! And also check out, because the site named ‘’ belongs to somebody selling paintings, not to ‘our’ Keith. As a further object lesson, let these situations remind you of the importance of protecting your name and establishing ‘official’ websites and social media before anyone has the chance to beat you to it!