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Keith Urban hints at Tamworth return

AAP logoAAP 6/12/2016 Danielle McGrane

Keith Urban would like to return to the place where it all started for him, the Tamworth Country Music Festival.

The Australian country star has sold more than 16 million albums worldwide and has been calling Nashville home for 24 years, yet he harbours a soft spot for the NSW city where his musical fires were stoked.

"I was nine when I first went to Tamworth and I went every year for many, many years camping in tents, caravans, staying in crappy hotels. I've done every combination of it," Urban told AAP in Sydney.

Urban said he would love to return to the country festival where it all began for him and take his wife, Oscar-winning actress Nicole Kidman, and their two daughters with him.

"I would love to do it. I would particularly like to take Nic because she's never been and the kids. It's such a huge part of my youth," he said.

In 1990, Urban was the recipient of the Star Maker award which has become an important part of the festival as a way of helping to launch new talent.

Urban is in Australia to kick off his Ripcord tour in Adelaide on Tuesday night before hitting eight arena dates across the country.

The country star has developed an international sound that has been criticised by the purists of Australian country music.

Three years ago, Australian country music veteran John Williamson quit as president of the Country Music Association of Australia, which runs the Golden Guitar awards in Tamworth in frustration at the "Americanisation" of the awards.

Urban has arguably been leading the way in this with his more modern version of country music. On his last two albums, Fuse and Ripcord, he worked with electronic artists and rappers including Kanye West producer Jeff Bhasker and Pitbull.

He admits that he does get criticised by the traditionalists but he believes that's what keeps the genre moving.

"I love the fact that country music has its people who cry out that it's completely lost its way and there's nothing country about it, and it's sacrilegious. Those people are really important because without them I don't where we'd be," he said.

"You need both. You need someone to keep it somewhat calibrated and you need someone to keep pushing the boundaries. You need them all to keep the thing balanced."

The Tamworth Country Music Festival takes place in January, about a month after Urban's tour wraps up on December 17.

The star said he would be spending Christmas in Sydney with Kidman and their two daughters. The actress will also walk the red carpet for the Australian premiere of her upcoming movie Lion on December 18.

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