Canadians share a bond with Australians and that's part of the reason country star Keith Urban says he's always felt at home performing here.
"Because we absorb so much of the same music — we obviously get America, but also the UK and all through Europe — I think we've grown up with a lot of the same kind of influences," Urban said of the Aussie-Canuck connection, adding that he loves "the energy and the people" in Canada.
The New Zealand-born, Australia-raised performer will be spending a solid chunk of time in Canada later this year: he was announced Wednesday as one of the main performers for the 2018 Canadian Country Music Awards and, as part of his upcoming world tour kicking off this summer, Urban will play 10 dates across Canada, from Moncton to Vancouver.
"The timing is perfect," he said of being invited to play the CCMAs at Hamilton's FirstOntario Centre this September.
The singer-songwriter, guitarist and producer will be joined at the CCMAs by Calgary singer Lindsay Ell and successful duo High Valley (comprised of Blumenort, Alta. brothers Brad and Curtis Rempel).
Rising star Ell is just one of a host of collaborators with whom the Grammy-winning Urban teamed up for his just-released album Graffiti U , his ninth studio effort.
"Getting to work with so many new people was the most exhilarating part of making it," Urban told CBC News during a stop in Toronto on Wednesday.
"I'm very interested in fusing things together: sonically, creatively, working with people that I would've never thought of working with and seeing what comes of it. That's what I love about collaborating."
Urban has developed a bit of a reputation for teaming up with unexpected voices and incorporating different musical styles into his music — something he shares with the country genre as a whole.
"Country's got a great history of embracing many different styles into it at any given time," he said.
"I think that's kept it very vibrant and relative."
Hosted by Shania Twain, the Canadian Country Music Awards take place in Hamilton on Sunday, Sept. 9 and will air on CBC.