El Segundo High School

Behind the scenes with Keith Urban at American Idol

This past week, on Wednesday, April 22, I was invited to attend American Idol.  Although I grew up in Los Angeles, I have never yet been to see a live Idol show, so I was curious as to what the taping would be like.  When I walked in, I was blinded by lights. That is what was most distinct: the lights. They were so bright and so many colors, it was like a Christmas tree.

Shortly after I arrived, I noticed all the signs. Fans made signs with clever statements about their favorite contestant or judge. Also, everyone was wearing bright colors, which would look good on television, making the show pop out.  The crowd was buzzing with excitement, which accelerated when the contestants arrived, followed by the judges, Harry Connick Jr, Jennifer Lopez, and Keith Urban. The contestants looked nervous, but excited. The judges looked perfect, just how I would expect famous people would look.

Although the performances were meant to be the highlight, for me instead I was mesmerized by two other aspects of the taping. The first being the families of the contestants, who were adorable. They were so nervous, and they cheered for their contestant so much. It warmed my heart. But, for me, the unexpected highlight was watching Keith Urban during the commercial breaks.

(Photo courtesy of Cece Jane)

At the breaks, the fans would yell to the judges, wanting to take a picture with them. Keith Urban would get up at every commercial with a warm smile on his face, and make sure to take a picture with everyone who wanted to, no matter how difficult.  He went into the crowd, hugged fans, and took selfies with the audience. At one point, he only had 20 seconds left until the show was back, so he ran to the side of the stage to talk to a girl on the top level, then quickly ran back before he was back on air, and nobody ever knew. He even went out of his way to talk to a man in a wheelchair, giving him a huge hug, and played with his guard dog. I found myself watching Mr. Urban at every break, noticing that he never took a break, using every opportunity to spread warmth to the fans. The thing that was so astounding about this was that he did this all for the pure kindness of it. He went out of his way to be nice, and it was truly remarkable. Nobody watching the show at home would know that he was doing this, so it was not to look good or for publicity. He simply cares about people, and I have never come across someone so kind, and so selfless.

After the show, I watched the judges get interviewed by various reporters. They went in a line from one reporter to the next, to the next, to the next, etc. After Keith reached the end, I was standing there, and his assistant told him he was finished. I immediately ran up to him and said: “Can I please say one thing?” And despite the fact that he had flown in that morning, worked all day, was flying back out that same night, and was probably tired as could be, and despite the fact that he is incredibly successful, he smiled, looked me in the eyes, and gently told me that of course I could speak. So, I told him about how kind I noticed he was, and how it was truly inspiring. I told him that I am an aspiring journalist, and that I was wondering if I could quote him. Again, he smiled, and then instead of speaking about himself, he immediately began to ask me about my journalism. He asked me where I write, what I write about, my favorite thing about it, my ultimate goal, and much more. Every time I answered he seemed genuinely interested and continued to ask even move questions, even though he was exhausted, and this gained him nothing. He simply went out of his way to be nice so to that a random fan of his could be happy.

So, although I had planned to write about the experience of a live American Idol taping, I instead want this article to highlight how kind Keith Urban was, and how he is a positive part of the music industry. Thank you, Keith Urban, for making me much more confident and happy, and for proving the kindness in humanity. My first “music” article, and one I will never forget.