Australian country superstar Keith Urban has kicked off 2017 with an impassioned musical tribute to some of the singers who died last year, including George Michael, Prince, David Bowie and country legend Merle Haggard.

Urban surprised cheering fans with an emotional six-song medley that included Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah and climaxed with Prince's Purple Rain, during a televised performance to see in the New Year. With the singer's wife, the actress Nicole Kidman, joining him on stage to dance along with the Music, the performance also included a blast of the Eagles hit Take It Easy, David Bowie's Heroes, Merle Haggard's Mama Tried and Prince's Purple Rain.

Urban on TV

The performance wasn't a one-off, however. A couple of days later, Urban reprised the medley on another TV show, Studio 10. This time the cameras found him sitting at home in his armchair, accompanied by just his own acoustic guitar. But his performance was just as impassioned, if not more so.

As Urban strummed forcefully on his guitar and tore into the lyrics of Heroes and, particularly, the climatic Purple Rain, it was clear how much the songs meant to him and how much of his soul he was pouring into his performance. The singer's musical ability also rang loudly as he replicated the famous Merle Haggard guitar lick before moving seamlessly from Heroes to Mama Tried.

Urban's next hit

So will the medley be Urban's next big hit? There's no word yet on an official release, but Urban's fans have been vocal in their support for the medley on social media, and it wouldn't be the first time that a musician's spontaneous emotional response to a situation has turned into a hit.

One example was Alan Jackson's Where Were You When The World Stopped Turning, which was penned in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Jackson's intensely personal performance struck a chord with everyone who heard it and it went on to be one of the singer's most memorable performances.

The rash of celebrity deaths in 2016 has been news the world over. Could Urban's celebration of six much-loved songs provide music fans with a way to grieve?