Keith Urban may have to leave his guitar on stage at the Academy of Country Music awards this Sunday, April 2, so he has both hands to carry home trophies. Urban leads the superstar flock of nominees, with seven nods, including Entertainer of the Year, Song of the Year for “Blue Ain’t Your Color,” and Album of the Year for “Ripcord.” Sure to be looking on from the audience will be Nicole Kidman, his soul-mate, and wife of nearly 11 years. Keith Urban never compromised his unique artistic style to fit into traditional country music molds, and he has learned that joys of the heart and home are far more treasured than anything sitting on a mantle.

Not like anyone else

When Keith Urban came to Nashville 25 years ago, country music had not made the crossovers into multiple genres as it commonly does today, with artists like Little Big Town, Florida Georgia Line, and Carrie Underwood. As a guitarist, he already had set himself apart as a virtuoso, even inventing his own instrument, the “ganjo,” and having small successes as part of The Range. He made the deliberate choice to work with as many diverse and unconventional producers as possible, both to prove his range, and to stretch boundaries artistically. It took over a decade for “Somebody Like You” to top the charts and set Keith on a musical trek with no turning back. On “Ripcord,” his sound still calls to talents outside the country sphere, like Pitbull.

“He would kill on ‘Sun Don't Let Me Down,” Keith instinctively knew, so the collaboration was natural. Having legendary producer, Nile Rodgers, on board doesn't hurt, either.

Seeing his buoyant energy onstage, it would be easy to assume that the star doesn't shy away from any spotlight, but for many years, “I hid behind the guitar,“ he tells Jan Crawford of “CBS This Morning.” “I’m still not that comfortable taking it away onstage.

It’s like Linus and his security blanket.” Like many creative people, Keith Urban faced struggles from leaning on substances for that sense of security, and had two stays in rehab, the last in 2006, just after marrying Nicole Kidman. The song man is “at peace” with every difficult battle because it has led him to the contentment he now feels.

He takes delight in hearing daughters, Sunday Rose and Faith Margaret, “tapping the beat” of the turn signal on a car ride, just as he learned from his dad. The parents’ marriage has been a testament of staying power and standing through trial, demonstrated in many ways, as in his literal “carrying” of Nicole through her grief after the loss of her father.

Making dreams into real life

In describing his song, “The Fighter,” Keith relates “it's about trying to wrap my head around my wife's tenderness, purity, and fragility-- I want to keep that intact.” Besides the good husband’s wish for the best for his bride, “I want to make her dreams come true,” stresses Keith. I want to do whatever I can to make that happen.

That's just love.”

As for his own dreams, Keith Urban spends no time looking back on the past, knowing true peace, and finds the greatest pleasure in the studio, where he captures “something magical.” Whether in marriage or music, Keith Urban has found his own wellspring of joy.