Keith Urban was already a superstar in the eyes of country music fans the world over. But the folks in eastern Tennessee might want to adopt him as their honorary "favorite son." Australia's biggest country export has been mighty busy in the Volunteer State these days. And it has very little to do with the fact that that's where he makes his music. No, here of late, it's where he's been making lots of new friends--young and old alike.


Let's begin with his association with Habitat for Humanity. That it's a worthy cause with which to be involved is a no-brainer. But suppose you were a Habitat House recipient and it was Keith Urban who gave you the key to the front door? Knoxville's Regina Olum was that recipient and must now be rapidly adding Keith Urban music to her collection, if she already hadn't. While Keith was in town recently for a concert at the University of Tennessee's Thompson-Boling arena, she carved a little time so he could head over to a Knoxville suburb and do the honors for Ms. Olum. A big heart from the land down under and a new home for a deserving new homeowner. Country musicians continue to prove that they will leave no stone unturned for anyone in need.


I remember fourth grade very well. I remember it as the first year I really started getting a lot of homework. A nasty case of measles didn't help, but that's a story for another day. No, I remember bringing a lot of work home that year. So it really would have been nice to have someone like Keith Urban around. Technically, I guess he WAS around;  he was in Australia and he was 8 years old. But I digress. In Putnam County, Tennessee there's a teacher who also happens to be a big Keith Urban fan. And, apparently, that pays big dividends. A few weeks ago, Keith was in concert in Nashville--a short drive from Putnam County. Teacher Patty Sloan made the jaunt. During the show, Keith was reading signs made by some of the audience members and he was even inviting some of them up on stage to have their pictures made. Patty came up with a plan. She created a sign in which she said she wouldn't give her class any homework for a year is she could get a picture with Keith. Then she took that sign to the aforementioned Knoxville concert. And it worked! Patty got her picture and her class got a homework-free school year. I have to wonder if those students would love a wing of that school named in Keith's honor. I also can't help but wonder what the principal thinks.