Keith Urban has built a career as one of the most consistent hitmakers in country music over the past several decades, but he was just a young, rising country singer when he changed his career by scoring his first No. 1 hit. Urban first topped the charts with “But for the Grace of God” on Feb. 24, 2001, 21 years ago today.
“But for the Grace of God” was the third single from Urban’s self-titled debut solo album, but he was actually a longtime veteran of the music business by the time it was released. While Capitol Nashville released Keith Urban in October of 1999, the singer, songwriter and guitarist had previously released an entirely different album titled Keith Urban in his native country of Australia in 1991, and he had also had a recording deal with Capitol as a member of the Ranch, a rock-influenced country group in which he was the lead singer, lead guitarist and principal songwriter.
The Ranch released one album for Capitol Records in 1997 and scored two minor chart singles with “Walkin’ the Country” and “Just Some Love,” and when the band came to an end, Urban signed a solo deal with Capitol, which released his American debut single, “It’s a Love Thing,” in May of 1999. That song peaked just inside the Top 20 on Billboard‘s Hot Singles & Tracks chart, and its follow-up, “Your Everything,” gave Urban his first Top 5 hit on that same chart, peaking at No. 4.
“But for the Grace of God” was the third single from Urban’s self-titled album. He co-wrote the song with Charlotte Caffey and Jane Wiedlin of the Go-Go’s, and it reached No. 1 on Feb. 24, 2001, staying at the top of Billboard‘s Hot Singles & Tracks chart for one week.
Urban scored one more hit from his U.S. debut with the album’s fourth single, “Where the Blacktop Ends,” which reached No. 3. He would go on to win Top New Male Vocalist honors at the 2001 Academy of Country Music Awards, and he also took home the 2001 CMA Horizon Award, launching him into a huge career that has seen him become one of the most awarded and best-selling artists in country music history.
Keith Urban was certified platinum in 2003.
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