Josh Groban Biography
(Bio From Josh Groban's Official Website - 2013)
With his sixth album, All That Echoes, Josh Groban has at once built on the touchstone artistry that has made him a global pop star for more than a decade and expanded his ambitious reach into richly rewarding new territory.
The inspiring first single “Brave” shows off his accomplished, personal songwriting as one of seven songs on the album he co-wrote. And inspired choices of other’s songs, from the Academy Award-winning “Falling Slowly” from the movie and Tony Award-honored spin-off Broadway musical Once to Stevie Wonder’s “I Believe” through his continued explorations of the poetry of Spanish (“Un Alma Mas,” featuring Cuban-born trumpet great Arturo Sandoval) and Italian (“E Ti Prometterò,” a duet with Italian star Laura Pausini), spotlight his singular talents as a masterful interpreter.
Working for the first time with producer Rob Cavallo (the Warner Bros. Records chairman whose production credits cover Green Day’s many groundbreaking albums, Goo Goo Dolls, Fleetwood Mac and many others), Groban pushed himself to fully capture the spirit of his acclaimed concerts, fueled by his vibrant bond with legions of his fans, the famed Grobanites.
“The album was really sparked by an energy I had on the road,” he says.
Any of the hundreds of thousands who saw his shows in support of 2010‘s Illuminations, in which his writing and ambition took full flower, knows what he’s talking about. Those concerts were at turns playful and intimate — even in arena settings — and affectingly powerful, with equal measures of musical virtuosity and spirited, spontaneous personality. The latter has also brought him a rising career in movies and television, with an hilarious recurring guest role on The Office, a sparkling part in the hit Steve Carrell/Julianne Moore film Crazy, Stupid, Love and a as costar of the upcoming small-ensemble comedy Coffee Town.
“I thought, ‘This is the energy, the dynamic I want for my next record, the feeling I’m getting on stage,” he says.
When he and Cavallo had dinner after a show in Chicago to discuss the possibility of working together, it was clear right away that they had the same things in mind.
“When Rob came out to Chicago he basically shared the same adjectives with me that I had in my head,” Groban says. “I wanted this to be soulful, wanted it to be righteous and dynamic and inspirational and energetic. And mainly wanted to find the sweet spot of my singing voice again. I always find it on tour.”
To achieve this, Cavallo — the 1998 Grammy Awards producer of the year — devised a creative studio approach. Though as a producer he’s best known for his rock work, he’s had a greatly wide-ranging career and, he notes, was raised immersed in the classical world thanks to his opera-loving grandparents — Luciano Pavarotti was a family friend who would visit, drawn largely by his grandmother’s cooking. The chance to bring all those worlds together in one project was a challenge he relished.
Working at the famed Ocean Way Studios in Hollywood, he started with an all-star core band: drummers Matt Chamberlain and Abe Laboriel Jr., the latter having just come off the road anchoring Paul McCartney’s band; bassist Chris Chaney came from Jane’s Addiction; in-demand guitarist Tim Pierce joined with credits ranging from Madonna to Dave Matthews, and keyboard player Jamie Muhoberac has worked with the Rolling Stones, Fleetwood Mac, Seal, My Chemical Romance and many others. To this, the producer added the secret ingredient, a trio of the top orchestral session artists in L.A. in cellist Dane Little, violinist Charlie Bisharat and harp ace Gayle Levant.
And then, to provide as fertile an environment as possible, he gave them and Groban a sense of complete freedom.
“We tried this experiment,” Cavallo says. “We got the best — the best guitarists, keyboards, bass, drummers, and then got the best harpist, cellist and violinist in L.A. and got them to play together so they would be sensitive to each other. We tested it out, didn’t know if it would work. And it worked great! Everyone had to listen to each other and react and play accordingly. Josh was the leader. Everyone’s chemistry came together at that time. Really made for passionate vocal takes. What you’re really getting now is a very pure type of truth from Josh. Very pure.”
Arrangements were worked up collectively,
“The rhythm section came in ready to rock,” Groban says. “The orchestral guys came in controlled, and the nice balance was the that the rock guys brought out a real edge in the orchestral players and the orchestral players brought out a real sense of control and nuance to the way the rock guys would play. To see Abe Laboriel play with a harpist was great! And Gayle said that it hasn’t been since the Sinatra days that they were able to improvise with a rhythm section. So when they said to me, ‘Your mic is ready,’ it made it inspiring for me to sing on top of that, add my element, the three worlds blending together.”
Most of what’s on the album was from the first few takes of each song, with the spontaneous spirit intact. Even the full orchestra parts, added later, expanded directly from the music created by the three strings players in the initial sessions.
And the vibe extended outside the studio.
“It’s a musical camaraderie, not just showing up for a gig,” Groban says. “That all starts at the top with Rob. And it wasn’t just the playing, but the joking around and the dinners — we all got to know each other so well. Sometimes that magic that happens when you’re off the clock, so to speak, when you’ve technically done your job but think you can do it better. Got that extra oomph from everybody.”
It went literally outside the studio in the case of “Hollow Talk,” a song that originated with the Danish indie band Choir of Young Believers.” It’s a song of complex musical turns and intertwined emotions, building from an intimacy to a big, expansive sound with orchestra and bagpipe. Groban remarked in the studio that it brought out the vision of a lonely girl walking down the street — and engineer Allen Sides, inspired, took a microphone out onto Sunset Boulevard to record street noises.
“We’re hearing the cars go by and going, ‘I don’t know why this would work,’ but it really does,” Groban says. “And it turned out awesome.”
Groban was inspired to push himself as a writer, expanding on the achievements on Illuminations, the first album to be centered on his own compositions. “Brave” saw him team with long-time collaborator Tawgs Salter and singer-songwriter Chantal Kreviazuk.
“When Rob was saying, ‘Let’s widen the lane,’ you still don’t want to sound out of your element,” Groban says. “‘Brave’ represents one of the higher energy songs, but never felt out of place to me. Never felt this was out of my world. It represents the kind of energy I had on stage. I would want the lights going crazy and the band rocking out and something that blows the hair back and moves me. This to me represents every adjective Rob and I thought of in that meeting in Chicago.”
The lyrics and melody for “Below the Line,” co-written with Salter and Simon Wilcox, were formed on the day Groban participated in Life Below the Line, for which people subsist on $1.50 for a day in order to understand the levels of true poverty.
“It was not fun,” says the singer, whose own Find Your Light Foundation has focused on much-needed arts education programs. “A can of beans was my food, half in the morning and half at night. Somehow a song came out of it. It’s not necessarily the full message of the song. The vibe is, ‘We’re not helping ourselves until we’re helping others.’”
Another regular collaborator, Lester Mendez (who also produced two songs on the album), teamed with Groban on “False Alarms” and, along with Salter and Italian lyricist Marco Marinangeli, “E Ti Prometterò.” For a second Italian song, “Sincera” he reunited with acclaimed producer-composer Walter Afansieff (who produced the song) and Marinangeli.
Such personal bonds and connections abound throughout the album. Groban and Irish singer-songwriter Glen Hansard, co-writer of “Falling Slowly” and co-creator of both the movie and musical Once, have built a friendship — the musical even includes a winking joke at Groban’s expense and the singer introduced its segment at the Tony Awards show. Laura Pausini, Groban says, “was the first global superstar I ever met,” an encounter that happened when he was just 17 and attending the MIDEM conference in the south of France. A friendship grew and both kept hoping there would be an opportunity to collaborate, which finally came with “E Ti Prometterò.”
A few years back, Groban found himself sitting next to one of his heroes, iconic writer Jimmy Webb, on what turned out to be a harrowingly storm-tossed New York flight. Here, he steps up to tackle Webb’s “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” a song of complicated emotions that has tantalized with past interpretations by such stars as Judy Collins and Linda Ronstadt. And the haunting traditional Irish song “She Moved Through the Fair” came to him while “having my late-night glass of wine and trawling YouTube” via a live solo version by English folk-rock legend Richard Thompson, another long-time Groban favorite.
“Having grown up on Irish music, I thought, ‘Let’s give it a try,’” he says of the song, which has also been recorded by artists including Van Morrison and Sinead O’Connor. To give it the right tone, Levant switched to Celtic harp and Groban brought in another old friend, Eric Rigler, virtuoso on the Irish Uilleann pipes. “After writing sessions, trying to be clever, it’s nice to be reminded by songs like this that just sit in a place that’s right.”
And to tie it all up, the album ends with the Stevie Wonder classic.
“Talking about the light and dark and trials and tribulations of love, no one writes about that better than Stevie Wonder,” he says. “It’s about how imperfect we can be, how many lessons we can learn. ‘Even though I messed up in the past and have done things wrong, the next time love comes my way, I’m not going to let go.”
Groban’s voice brings a truly personal stamp to the song, with the band and full orchestra joined by a full gospel choir. And the end of the song again captures the spirit that fueled the whole of the All That Echoes sessions, with Groban drumming (!) and singing a “big, stupid finish, unabashedly saying, ‘There it is!’”
“To me,” he says, “after all the messages we put on the record, there was no better way to start than ‘Brave’ and no better way to finish off than this.”
(Bio From Josh Groban's Official Website - 2010)
It seems no one knew what to expect when Josh Groban teamed with super-producer Rick Rubin for the singer’s fifth album, Illuminations – least of all Groban and Rubin. Fittingly, the results both defy and exceed any possible expectations as each of the collaborators stepped out of his zone and together they created an entirely new zone, one where folk meets classical, where art meets intimacy, where immediacy meets timelessness and where, most importantly, Groban was free to express himself more fully, more truly than ever before.
“These are my stories,” says Groban, who co-wrote 11 of the 13 songs on the collection, complemented by personalized if surprising selections written by Nick Cave and the poignant mother-son collaboration by Kate McGarrigle and Rufus Wainwright. “Every one of these songs, someone’s going to know it’s about them. I’m going to get a text message about every one! This is a very personal record.”
Groban had certainly never made a record like this before. But then neither had Rubin, whose nonpareil career runs from the early days of rap with Run-DMC and the Beastie Boys through the hard-edged rock of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Metallica to Johnny Cash’s latter-day life-embracing American Recordings series. What the combination brought out was a new range of expression and emotional connection from Groban, music that taps into generations of Americana and reaches across the oceans and lyrics drawn straight from the heart. In the course of the album, we see aspects of Groban unknown in the acclaimed stretch since he first stepped into the spotlight as a teenager, beyond even the personality and wit he flashed in his much-shared Emmy Awards medley and his noted guest role in last season’s Glee finale. The words he offers in “Hidden Away” could almost address the mission of the album itself:
Sing it out
So I can finally breathe in
I can take it all the same
Reaching out for someone I believe in
All I really need today
Illuminations was three years in the making, but the writing and recording came in bursts of creativity, maximizing the spontaneity and personal touch. Groban teamed with singer-songwriter Dan Wilson (former leader of the band Semisonic and co-writer of several pieces on the Dixie Chicks’ Not Ready to Make Nice including the 2007 Grammy song of the year title track) on most of the songs. Most of the recordings were done live in a casual setting with Groban playing piano and singing alongside acoustic guitarists Matt Sweeney and Smokey Hormel and, on some songs, iconic organist Spooner Oldham. From those sessions, orchestrations were crafted by David Campbell for nine songs and James Newton-Howard for two, while Brazilian great Carlinhos Brown created the dynamic setting for “Voce Existe Em Mim (You Exist In Me)” in his Bahia home, including the power of an all-girl drum corps – the only drums on the album.
The partnership of Rubin and Groban developed organically and out of deep mutual respect. After an exploratory meeting, both were eager to take on a full album project.
“From Day 1 it wasn’t about anything to prove, but two people finding a place to work together – two scared people,” Groban quips. “We wanted to find our line … and walk past it. This from Rick’s view was to be a fine art record. That grandness was something we wanted to embrace. We started out thinking we’d do a little folkie record. We wanted the looseness of that, the rawness of an intimate folk record and the power and warmth of a classical record.”
Rubin right from the start challenged Groban to tap deeper into his full range of talents than he had before, as a singer, musician and, crucially, a writer.
“Rick picked a few songs he liked for me and said, ‘Beat these.’” Groban recalls. “He said he’d be fine making a covers record with me, but if I wanted to do something special I should write songs that speak for me. So I went into a hole and wrote feverishly. I didn’t try to better the classics he gave me, but wrote songs that were more me.”
The song “Hidden Away” is a prime example of how this took shape. With the core band’s tracks recorded all in one take – Groban’s vocals included – it mixes intimate warmth and grandeur. The opening piano chords and the unfolding melody evoke a timeless Americana, a thread from Stephen Foster through Aaron Copland through Paul Simon and Randy Newman, as Groban makes a heartfelt plea not to hide true love or one’s true self.
That and the other Groban-Wilson teamings came very naturally, bringing the best out of each’s talents. Generally they’d sit one day to come up with the melody and musical ideas, with a few lyrical ideas sketched out. Then after sleeping on it a night, they’d reconvene to finish the words and fill out the music. “My strength is melody,” Groban says. “And his is helping find lyrics that don’t sound trite on the melody.”
For “Love Only Knows,” Rubin heard Groban’s piano and voice rendition and then instructed the guitarists to adapt the piano part for the introduction. The result is almost folk-Bach beauty, joined soon by the piano and voice, with swelling strings (recorded at the famed Capitol Records studio) following to bring a lush sweep to the song. Again, the core band was recorded live, vocals and all – this time despite Groban being a bit under the weather. “Rick said, ‘We can always redo it,’ but he had the microphone set so I could sing and play,” Groban says. “And we used it!” Again, it brings a very personal, human touch to the words, powerful lines of yearning to live and love fully and honestly.
“Voce Existe Em Mim (You Exist In Me)” brought Groban into new territory, not just for the contributions of Brazilian lyricist Lester Mendez (with whom he’d worked when duetting on Nelly Furtado’s Spanish-language album) and superstar arranger Brown, but for the language. “I’d never sung in Portuguese,” he says, noting that he loved the sensuous tones of the tongue. Brown’s drum troupe gives the song a vivid exuberance and blends with Campbell’s glissando strings for a joyous, intercontinental celebration.
For “L’Ora Del Addio (Farewell Time),” Groban ventures into more familiar linguistic territory, showing off the Italian chops familiar to fans. The song’s a musical collaboration with veteran Walter Afanasieff (his partner for “Per Te” on the Closer album) with lyrics by Italian songwriter Marco Marinangeli. It brings back the romantic, operative approach Groban’s been known for, but with some new aspects. “Rick’s assignment was to come up with that classical vibe,” he says. “I’d take my right hand and play melodies, and Walter’s ability to come up with these Rachmaninoff type chords to them was uncanny. There was a side to Rick that wanted us to take on these big, soaring melodies.”
Bringing it back home, but no less exotic, is “Bells of New York City,” a love ballad to the Big Apple – where Californian Groban has set up his new home. The song started with a simple piano improvisation that Wilson loved and helped nurture into a full musical cityscape with dramatic strings and percussion (including, yes, bells) and a tone that hints at the Irish and other cultures that have made New York everything it is.
The choice of Nick Cave’s “Straight to You” may seem a strange one to some, and Groban – a long-time Cave fan – was a bit skeptical at first as to whether it was a good fit. But again he credits Rubin’s vision in shaping the arrangement of the yearning lyrics and moving melody in what proved to be a perfect match of singer and song.
“Au Jardin Des Sans Pourquoi” came from Groban’s friendship with Rufus Wainwright. When the idea of Wainwright contributing a song came up, he asked Groban if it would be okay if it was something he’d written with his mother, Kate McGarrigle, one of the most cherished folk-pop singer-songwriters of modern music. After sending Groban the song, Wainwright revealed that it was the first time he had ever co-written with his mother – and it proved to be the only time, as McGarrigle passed away last year from cancer. For Groban, an already poignant song (the title means “The Garden Without Why’s”) became a moving tribute to his friend and his beloved, talented mother.
Giving the album another facet are two musical interludes, including “The Wandering Kind,” which Groban wrote when he was all of 12 years old. “I don’t know where this came from when I was 12,” he says, of the piece, a waltz that runs through some crazy modulations. “But I always liked it. I played it for Rick and said, ‘I can’t make a song of this. It’s all over the place. Can we do an instrumental?’”
With cello, stand-up bass, mandolin, acoustic guitar, accordion and Groban’s piano breezily underscores the pan-cultural American sweep of the album, as well as the deeply personal accomplishment this represents – a little aside marking a true achievement for a growing artist.
“I was given the very lofty task of having more responsibility on this album than I’ve ever had,” he says. “The bar was set high from the beginning. That’s why it took so long. But I can say that more of me went into this record than anything I’ve done.”
(Bio From Josh Groban's Official Website - 2009)
With his flawless lyrical baritone, Josh Groban is known around the world as a classically influenced pop singer. Over the past five years, the Los Angeles native has become an international superstar, selling more than 23 million albums and filling every arena on his 81-city Awake World Tour, which visited North America, Europe, Australia, and the Philippines between February and October in 2007. He was also the best-selling recording artist of 2007 thanks to sales of his double-platinum 2006 CD Awake and his blockbuster Christmas album, Noel. Recorded in June 2007 with the London Philharmonic, the stunning collection of holiday classics sold 4 million copies in the U.S. alone — making it the best-selling album of 2007 — and spent five consecutive weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard album chart, breaking a holiday album record previously held by Elvis Presley.
But for all of his success, Groban remains intent on staying connected: not only to his voice and to his songs, but also to his fans. The result of this connection has never been more evident than on his new CD/DVD, Awake Live, which was released by Reprise/143 Records on May 6th, 2008. “The DVD takes the Awake album where it needed to be — on to the stage,” Groban says. “Singing these songs live allowed me to connect with my audience in a way I never had before.”
His third live DVD (following 2002’s Josh Groban in Concert and 2004’s Live at the Greek), Awake Live gives listeners a sense of Groban’s astonishing body of work, as well as why his legions of dedicated fans refer to themselves as “Grobanites.” It captures his spirit and vitality
throughout an electrifying performance last August in Salt Lake City. While the majority of the songs are drawn from Awake, including the singles “You Are Loved (Don’t Give Up),” “February Song,” and “Lullaby,” the package features favorites from Groban’s three multi-platinum albums, including “Canto All Vita” from his self-titled 2001 debut, and the smash hit “You Raise Me Up” from 2003’s Closer.
“The studio process for Awake was very exciting and a little scary because we explored new creative territory,” Groban says. “I knew the songs would really come to life on stage and blossom into what they were meant to be. The energy of the audience and the element of the unknown were the ingredients needed to complete the album.”
In September 2006, Groban released Awake and proved his versatility as an artist by co-writing and co-producing several songs on the album, including “February Song.” Featuring collaborations with Dave Matthews, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Herbie Hancock, Imogen Heap, Glen Ballard, and John Ondrasik’s Five for Fighting, Awake represented a creative leap forward for Groban, which paid off when the album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard album chart. It has now sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S.
His career began to take flight after being cast on Ally McBeal by the show’s creator David E. Kelley, who asked him to perform “You’re Still You” for the show’s 2001 season finale. Inundated with thousands of emails from fans, Kelley asked Groban to return the following season to reprise his role and perform "To Where You Are." Warner Bros. Records soon offered Groban an exclusive recording contract with renowned producer David Foster at the production helm. Six months after its release, his debut album, Josh Groban, went double-platinum and has now sold nearly 5 million copies in the U.S.
Groban continued building momentum and recognition through a series of high-profile concert appearances, including the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, and a Christmas performance at the Vatican in Rome. In 2003, he performed the closing number at the concert for World Children's Day. Later that year, Groban released his second album, Closer, which sold 375,000 copies in its first week and skyrocketed to No. 1 two months later thanks to the single “You Raise Me Up” — a track that earned Groban a Grammy Award nomination for Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. Closer went on to spend an astonishing 62 weeks on the Billboard Pop chart. That year, nearly 40 million people saw Groban perform as part of the AOL “Broadband Rocks” concert series.
In 2004, inspired by a visit with Nelson Mandela during a trip to South Africa, Groban established the Josh Groban Foundation to help children in need through education, healthcare, and the arts. Mandela appointed Groban an official ambassador for Mandela's Project 46664, a campaign to help raise global awareness of HIV/AIDS in Africa. Over the years, Groban’s devoted fans have raised more than a million dollars for the Josh Groban Foundation. Groban’s commitment to help better the world around him includes his participation in many charity events including VH1 Save the Music, Tsunami Aid: A Concert of Hope, and Live 8.
Though just 28, Groban has dueted with some of the most celebrated recording artists in history, including Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Andrea Bocelli (in a tribute to the late Luciano Pavarotti at the 2008 Grammy Awards), and Sarah Brightman (at Princes William and Harry’s Concert for Diana in London in 2007). Groban also sang at the closing ceremony for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, a performance that was seen by more than two billion people. Memorable television appearances over the years include six visits to The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Kennedy Center Honors (honoring Andrew Lloyd Weber), two PBS specials (the first of which became the best-selling DVD of 2002), performances at Super Bowl XXXVIII, the Walt Disney World Christmas Day Parade, and American Idol’s “Idol Gives Back.” Groban recently had the opportunity to show his lighter side by joining the likes of Brad Pitt, Cameron Diaz, and Harrison Ford in Jimmy Kimmel’s hilarious video spoof with Ben Affleck.
Groban and his recordings have been nominated for more than a dozen awards including the American Music Award, World Music Award, a Grammy Award, and an Academy Award for his performance of “Believe” from the 2005 DreamWorks film, Polar Express starring Tom Hanks.
In 2008, Groban showed no signs of slowing down. In January, he performed at a special live event at the Sundance Film Festival entitled “Where Music Meets Film.” In April, Groban joined Paul Simon for his “Love in Hard Times: The Music of Paul Simon” concert series at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. In May, Groban appeared as “The Russian” in a 21st-anniversary concert performance of the cult musical Chess, opposite Idina Menzel, at London’s Royal Albert Hall.
On his future, Groban is open to a host of possibilities. “I am fortunate enough to have had many really big moments in my career. I think the mistake a lot of people in my position make is to always search for the next big thing. I am looking forward to playing some small theaters. I’m looking forward to writing more. I want to delve further into my acting career and explore some of the film and TV opportunities that I haven’t had time for. My outlook is to expect the unexpected. And when the next step comes, I’m prepared to take it.”
(Reprise Records Press Release, September 13, 2006)
The legions of Josh Groban fans will slumber no more as Reprise Records announced today a November 7th worldwide release of the hotly anticipated "Awake," the follow-up CD to the mega star's previous two albums, the self-titled "Josh Groban" and the multi-platinum "Closer," which collectively sold well over 13 million CDs.
Groban's 'hands on' approach in the creative process of "Awake" is reflected in several Groban penned and produced songs along with musical contributions from Ladysmith Black Mambazo, Dave Matthews, Glen Ballard, Eric Mouquet, John Ondrasik (Five for Fighting) Marius DeVries, David Foster, Imogen Heap and Herbie Hancock.
"Awake's" 13 new songs including the just released first single, "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)" show the Grammy nominated Groban's tremendous growth as a vocalist, producer and songwriter since he first appeared on the musical landscape.
"I learned from touring that my fans are really open-minded, musical, intelligent people and I feel like they want to come on this new journey with me. The music still sounds like it's coming from my heart and my soul and my voice. That is always the most important thing to me. My goal on "Awake" was to create the music and find the best people to help me create it," commented Groban.
With a lineup of stellar producers including Marius DeVries, Guy Sigsworth, Glen Ballard and David Foster, the album contains songs in Italian, Spanish and of course English. An early stand-out, "February Song" with Josh on keyboards came to the 25-year-old Los Angeles native on a sleepless night. “I wanted to write a song that melodically and lyrically represented the craziness I felt in that moment in the dark dark space. I walked over to the piano and it just came to me in a half hour in the most magical way."
Additionally, Groban recorded a suite of two stunningly haunting songs where he harmonizes with longtime idols Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The first song, the Groban/Dave Mattthews penned "Lullaby" is sung a cappella and the follow up, the South African song, "Weeping" which Josh first heard on a trip to South Africa. "The musical tapestry of the country and their heated history, the honor of meeting Nelson Mandela and visiting schools in Soweto was totally inspiring. And, it was a dream of a lifetime for me to sing with Ladysmith in the studio. I've loved them from the moment I heard Paul Simon's Graceland."
Josh Groban burst on to the international music scene in 2001 with the release of his self-titled debut album featuring the hit single, "To Where You Are." His follow up CD "Closer" with the smash hit "You Raise Me Up" brought enormous success to the young singing sensation. He has made scores of television appearances beginning with Ally McBeal and continuing with countless performances on Oprah Winfrey, Good Morning America, The Today Show, two PBS specials, the Superbowl, the Oscars and the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics with an audience of over 2 billion people. His first PBS Special went on to become the No. 1 selling DVD of 2002. On the touring front, Groban started out his now legendary 40-city concert tour (which sold out in a record breaking 20 minutes) and then went straight forward to a two year arena tour across the US. A Josh Groban tour for 2007 is expected to be announced shortly.
(Bio from Josh Groban's Official Website - 2004)
Josh Groban, the 22-year-old singing sensation, has garnered a worldwide audience with a rare mix of talent and style that is equal parts star power and boy-next-door appeal. The gifted baritone's self- titled debut release on Warner Bros./143 Records has become a certified musical phenomenon.
Discovered by multi-Grammy-winning producer/writer/arranger David Foster, Josh's CD has become the breakaway hit of the year, deftly sidestepping the pop-classical divide with a sound that borrows from both to fashion something instantly accessible yet entirely original.
A skyrocketing career by any measure, his now break-out performances on Ally McBeal, a major profile on ABC's 20/20 and appearances on Oprah Winfrey, The Tonight Show, The Rosie O'Donnell Show, Larry King Live, NBC's September llth Concert For America, Boston Pops on PBS with John Williams Conducting and The Today Show amongst others, have all contributed to his growing legion of fans. His duet with Charlotte Church at the closing of the Winter Olympics Ceremony in Salt Lake City, which reached over one billion viewers worldwide, was an instant classic TV moment. Following each TV appearance, sales of Josh Groban soar, and his website is bombarded by fans in unprecedented numbers, with his most devout fans calling themselves "The Grobanites."
Josh has participated in his very own PBS special as part of the Great Performance Series, the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade and NBC's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in Rockefeller Plaza.
Josh's artistic odyssey is a saga of talent, determination and more than a little good luck. Born and raised in Los Angeles, he joined his school vocal group as a young teen because, "everyone else was doing it." But it was only when he began attending the prestigious Interlochen Arts Program that the fledgling vocalist began to take his talent seriously, subsequently appearing in several musical theatre productions.
It was in l998 that his vocal abilities began to attract professional attention. "I was studying with a vocal coach who knew David Foster," he recounts, "and David called and told me he needed a singer right away for an inaugural program for the Governor of California." What followed was a string of performing and recording opportunities presented by David Foster, whose unerring ear for talent had honed in on Josh's extraordinary facility with both pop and classical material.
A month later Foster called again and asked Josh to fill in for Andrea Bocelli to sing The Prayer at a Grammy rehearsal. "At first I said no. I was afraid the song was too high and I didn't want to embarrass myself." But a persistent Foster prevailed, and the then l7-year-old Josh sped down to the auditorium, where he sang the Oscar nominated song. "The whole experience was unreal," remembers Josh. Shortly thereafter, the singer received news that he had been selected for Carnegie Mellon's prestigious musical theatre department. "I was thrilled to be singing for David," Josh reveals, "but also knew that Carnegie Mellon was a great opportunity." But at that moment, Warner Bros. Records offered the artist an exclusive recording contract. Work began immediately on a debut album, with Foster at the production helm.
"I love his natural ability in the pop and rock arena, but I love his sense of classics even more. He's a true musical force to be reckoned with," comments Foster. The two already had a selection of songs recorded for the debut album, including Alla Luce Del Sole, and Gira Con Me.
The final result Josh Groban has a roster of special guests including The Corrs, Charlotte Church, Rhys Fulber and Lili Haydn, with selections ranging from the above mentioned operatic perennials to a memorable reworking of Don McLean's Vincent and a Richard Marx original, his first hit single, To Where You Are.
Dubbed by The New York Times as "The New Boy Wonder of Voice," Josh Groban has, by any measure, set a new standard for musical success with a style that transcends musical boundaries.
(William Morris Agency Official Bio, October 2003)
“What most people know about me, they know through my music. This time, I’ve tried to open that door as wide as possible. These songs are a giant step closer to who I really am and what my music is all about. Hence the title.”
So says talented vocal phenomenon Josh Groban on the subject of his aptly-titled new Reprise Records release, Closer.
Featuring the glorious new single, You Raise Me Up, Closer is a stunning collection of thirteen diverse and distinctive new tracks, including three original songs by the young artist, that together comprise a musical landscape both richly detailed and sweepingly cinematic; a resonant and revealing self-portrait in sound and a memorable journey through melody and lyric, language and emotion.
Co-produced by a stellar supporting cast, including David Foster, Walter Afanasieff, Martin Page and Eric Mouquet, Closer boasts a guest artist roster led by world-class violinist Joshua Bell and the innovative French duo Deep Forest. Recorded over seven months in 2003, the CD reveals brilliant new facets of a young man The New York Times crowned “The New Boy Wonder of the Voice.”
Since the release of his extraordinarily successful 2001 self-titled debut album, featuring the International hit To Where You Are, Josh Groban has become a musical phenomenon, selling well over five million albums worldwide, making scores of televised appearances, most notable his wildly popular 2003 PBS Great Performances special, which itself became a number one selling DVD and the best selling long-form music video of 2002. His appearance at the closing ceremonies of the Salt Lake City Olympics was seen by over a billion people, many of whom were instantly converted into rabid “Grobanites,” as the artist’s global fan following has affectionately dubbed themselves. Most recently, Josh appeared on stage at Broadway’s Amsterdam Theater for an Actors Fund benefit performance of Chess, bringing to fruition a long-standing ambition of this former Carnegie-Mellon musical theater major.
But that, of course, was then and this is now, and for Josh, the difference could not be more self-evident. “Of course I felt tremendous pressure to repeat the success of the first album,” he confides. “The unspoken question was ‘Can you top that?’ I felt that vocally I’d grown so much, that I was more grounded and that I had a lot more to say. The challenge became not so much reaching the bar I had already set, but setting it higher.”
Nevertheless it was, by his own admission, a “daunting” task to ramp up for the new project. “It felt as if one day we’d finally finished everything that had to be done to take the first album as far as it could go. And the next, I was in the studio starting on another one.”
A self-styled “scribbler” in poetry and lyrics for most of his life, Groban adds, “when I started putting words to music in the studio, it all just seemed to fit.” The results are nothing short of spectacular, thanks in part to the partners he picked. “Walter Afanasieff had been involved on the first album and we had a great working relationship,” explains Josh, of his co-writer on the Closer standout, Per Te. “It carried over into songwriting and really gave me the encouragement to push myself. I realized early on the benefit of finding the right creative chemistry, which is why Eric was also such a natural choice.”
The Eric in question is Mouquet, one half of the renowned French World Music duo, Deep Forest. “I’m a huge admirer of what they’ve done with artists like Peter Gabriel,” Josh enthuses, “and I knew that they would take me in a whole new direction.” Josh, in fact, ended up in Mouquet’s converted chateau in Northern France for a week-long writing and recording odyssey that yielded two more outstanding Closer selections, Never Let Go, with a guest performance from Deep Forest and Remember When It Rained, featuring Josh on vocals and, for the first time, on piano.
Collaborating closely once again with David Foster (who produced Josh’s debut), work on the album proceeded at a determined pace through the Summer and Fall of 2003. Along with Josh’s newly minted originals, a tune stack was assembled remarkable for its depth and diversity. Included among the Closer standouts: Mi Mancherai, featuring Joshua Bell from the score to the film II Postino, and a continuation, of sorts, to Josh’s fascination for Italian film music (as evidenced by Se from Cinema Paradiso on his first album); the unabashedly romantic My Confession, penned by Richard Page and the aforementioned single You Raise Me Up. “I have a natural affinity for sad songs,” Josh confides with a laugh. “In a way this is a response to the song To Where You Are on the last album. I wanted to give my fans a definite uplift this time.”
The list goes on: the sweeping opener, Oceano; the Spanish fire of Si Volvieras A Mi, the sheer virtuosity of Caruso. “I knew I was going to be actively touring for this album,” Josh reveals, “and I kept that in mind as one of the criteria for the songs. This is music that needs to sound as good on stage as it does in the studio.” Groban is scheduled to embark on his first world concert tour in January 2004.
Whether in concert, on CD or simply resonating in the hearts and minds of those who hear it, Closer is a collection by a vocalist and songwriter who understands that intimacy is the first prerequisite in the art of communication. “To me, these songs present something beautiful,” he concludes. “Sometimes they’re personal and sometimes you can just appreciate the story, even if it’s not mine. It all comes from the same place.”
On his new album, Josh Groban has brought us closer to that place.
(Very early biography from the beginning of his career)
19-year-old singer Josh Groban has a story as compelling and as real as you are likely to hear in the world of pop or classical music. Discovered by world-renowned producer/writer/arranger David Foster, Josh's journey to his label home, the Foster/Warner Brothers joint venture - 143 Records - reads like the stuff of show business legend.
"I've had an interesting route getting to this place," says the affable teen. That 'place' he speaks of will find him releasing a Foster-helmed debut album sometime in 2001. Not bad for a kid who had only joined the school vocal group because – in Josh's words: "everyone else was doing it."
Born in Los Angeles, Josh put singing on hold two or three years after his seventh grade debut because he had to change schools. It was only when he attended a Los Angeles County arts school did Josh begin to take his talent seriously. "I started taking music lessons on the side," he recalls. "I was very much into musical theater. I had a pretty good baritone voice, so I began acting and singing in school productions."
Citing Mandy Patinkin as one of his early musical theater heroes, Josh realized late in 1998 that his intense vocal discipline was about to pay off. "I was studying with a vocal coach who knew David Foster. One day David called him and said he needed a singer right away for an event he was putting on for the Governor of California's Inauguration."
Josh sent in a tape to Foster, and the next thing he knew he was called to rehearse for the event. The song was "All I Ask Of You," and Josh nailed it. The Inauguration event was a huge success, and much to Josh's surprise the Foster-Groban juggernaut was on a roll. "A month later David calls me and asks me if I know the Celine Dion/Andrea Bocelli song 'The Prayer.' I say 'of course.'" The song, which appeared on both Bocelli's and Dion's own albums, was in fact, written by Foster.
Incredibly, David was enlisting Groban to fill-in at the 1999 Grammy rehearsals for Bocelli, who wasn't able to make the practice session. Josh was in shock. "You have to remember, he was asking me to come down to the Shrine and sing with Celine Dion," he laughs. "At first I said no. I was afraid the song was too high for me, and God knows, I didn't want to embarrass myself." But a persistent Foster prevailed, and the then 17-year-old Josh sped down to the auditorium, where he sang the Oscar nominated song in front of several other Grammy nominated artists, and – much to his disbelief – with Celine herself.
"The whole experience was unreal," remembers Josh. "David invited me back to the dress rehearsal, and there I am sitting in the front row watching Aerosmith and Madonna do their thing." But the story gets even more incredible. The Grammy host for that year, Rosie O' Donnell noticed Josh in the audience of the dress rehearsal and invited him backstage. "You're the opera boy, huh? You were great," she told the young singer, and booked Josh for her TV show on the spot. A few weeks later Groban appeared on The Rosie O'Donnell show, and was even interviewed by the comedian.
Josh continued to perform at events for Foster, but he also began to concentrate on attaining a college education. Soon, Josh received news that Carnegie Mellon's prestigious musical theater department accepted him. When Foster booked Groban for yet another music industry party, "that was the beginning of the conflict," says Josh. "I was thrilled to be singing for David, but also excited about attending classes at Carnegie Mellon. They didn't take well to me leaving school to do these type of events." He kept the commitment, however, and it was at the music industry event where a group of Warner Brothers executives told Foster they were interested in signing Groban to a record deal. David responded quickly, and soon after Josh decided to put school on hold to pursue his singing career.
The two already have a selection of songs recorded for the debut album, including "Alla Luce Del Sole," and "Gira Con Me." Josh also recorded a duet with Barbra Streisand of a Foster-penned song that may be released on a future album. Foster especially admires Josh's versatility. "I love his natural ability in the pop and rock arena, but I love his sense of classics even more. He's a true musical force to be reckoned with."
When asked what style suits the vocalist best, he takes his time to answer. "People will want to classify me as opera I suppose, but I won't even be touching opera songs for a long time. I want my voice to mature. I hope to look back on my career five or ten years from now and see that I continued to grow as a singer. I would never want to be pigeonholed."
Josh has been lending his vocal talent at several benefits in the last few months. They include Muhammad Ali's Fight Night Foundation honoring Michael J. Fox and others; The Family Celebration 2001 co-hosted by President and Mrs. Clinton along with David Kelley and wife, Michelle Pfeiffer; Michael Milken's CapCure event, which raises funds for cancer research.
Josh also appeared on the stellar 2001 season finale of the hit television program, Ally McBeal. He performed the heartfelt song, "You're Still You," (from his forthcoming debut) at his character's high school prom - an event that was central to the finale plot line. A second song, "For Always (Duet)," performed by Josh Groban and Lara Fabian, will also be making an early appearance on the "A.I." soundtrack. "It's been like a dream so far," says Josh. "All I can say is stay tuned."
T h e V o i c e o f t h e C e n t u r y ! ! !