OFFSTAGE: Who Told Keith Urban to “Kindly Learn to Sing in Tune”?

(CMT Offstage keeps a 24/7 watch on everything that’s happening with country music artists behind the scenes and out of the spotlight.)

The velvety-voiced, sexy-growler, do-no-wrong Keith Urban once got acerbic advice from a variety show judge? Granted, it was back in the ’70s when Urban was only 9 years old on the Australian TV show, Pot of Gold. (I’m thinking it was Australia’s version of The Gong Show but without the gong.) Anyway, Urban remembers being on the show and doing a country song and playing guitar. And the judge said, “Kindly learn to sing in tune because you are intrinsically a good musician.” So I guess he softened his critique with a compliment. But then, the judge threw in some good ol’ comtempt for country. “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,” Urban recalls the judge saying. But as mean as all that was, it sounds like Urban is ready to give the contestants on the Australian production of The Voice some honesty of his own. “This is not about being dishonest with people. It’s about being respectful of how you deliver the truth and finding a way to inspire people while pointing out areas to improve on,” he told the Courier Mail newspaper in Brisbane.