Keith Urban Wants His CMA Awards Performance to Surprise You (Exclusive)

Keith Urban is gearing up for his performance at this year’s CMA Awards, and he’s looking to bring something special to the big show.

ET spoke with the country music star during rehearsals at the Bridgestone Arena in Nashville, Tennessee, on Tuesday, and he opened up about getting the chance to perform his hit single “Never Comin’ Down,” off his latest album, Graffiti U.

“It’s a blast playing it. We’ve been opening the tour with this song every night and I’m so thrilled we get to do it here at CMAs, particularly with this production,” Urban, 51, marveled. 

However, the star says that, while getting ready and rehearsing has been a great experience, nothing matches the wild energy of playing to a roaring crowd.

“The rehearsal is so fun but to have an audience in front of us [is the] missing piece,” Urban said.

When asked if he’s got any surprises in the works, Urban exclaimed, “I hope the whole thing is [a surprise]!”

From the brief glimpse ET got of Urban’s performance, it looks like the singer is going to be taking the title of his hit track a bit literally, rocking out from up high.

“Yeah, it’s a ways up there. Hopefully, I am ‘Never Comin’ Down,'” Urban joked. “That’s the plan.”

Urban isn’t just playing during the star-studded show, he’s also nominated in three of the night’s biggest categories, including Entertainer of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year and Album of the Year for Graffiti U.

While Urban has already taken home the CMA award for Male Vocalist of the Year three times and Entertainer of the Year once, the New Zealand-born country superstar says he never takes his nominations for granted, and actually, every time feels “even more special.”

“I just love getting to do this. So to make a record like ‘Grafitti U,’ and have it be embraced the way it’s been embraced, it’s the greatest thing of all,” Urban said.

However, getting recognized in the Entertainer of the Year category holds a special place of significance in the singer’s heart.

“Entertainer is obviously an incredible category and playing live, I’ve been doing that more than anything in my life. I mean, I was playing live before I wrote songs. I wasn’t making records [yet], that was all ahead of me. So playing live is the foundation of so much who I am and what I do,” Urban explained. “[I’ve been] trying to put on better and better tours and concerts every year, [so to] end up with the Entertainer nod is incredible.”

The musician recently wrapped up the North American leg of his Graffiti U Tour and will soon be heading to Australia for nine concert shows beginning on Jan. 23 at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre in Newcastle, New South Wales.

The tour then moves on to its final European leg for five engagements in Berlin, Amsterdam, London, Glasgow and will finish in Dublin at the 3Arena on March 10.

“I haven’t been [to Europe] in a long long time, so it’s going to be [great]. I’m really looking forward to it,” Urban said. “We’re getting to places like Amsterdam, and I’ve never even been to Amsterdam so it’s going to be really fun.”

Check out Urban’s towering performance of “Never Comin’ Down” at this year’s 52nd Annual CMA Awards, which kicks off on Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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