Josh Groban Goes Live
Central Florida News 13
June 11, 2008
By John Handiboe
Josh Groban has sold over 23 million albums worldwide. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance of "Believe," from the 2005 DreamWorks film "The Polar Express," starring Tom Hanks.

Now, Groban has released his third live CD/DVD, titled "Awake Live." Directed by Hamish Hamilton, "Awake Live" was filmed during Groban's "Awake" tour, at Salt Lake City's Energy Solutions Arena before a sold-out crowd of 15,000 on Aug. 28, 2007.

The DVD has the entire, 100-minute concert and behind the scenes "Making of the Tour" footage.

John: I am told your live performances are far greater than your album performances -- not that your album performances are bad by any means.

Groban: (laughing) Well, thanks. We have such a great time on the road. We have developed this great kind of touring life, where the fans come out and expect the unexpected. I was really nervous about touring five, six years ago, when I first started. Now, it's the most fun we have all year. It's a given for us, when we experience that energy on stage every night with our audiences that are new every night, that we document it, and we find a very specific location on every tour to do it. My last DVD was in my hometown of Los Angeles. This one was in Salt Lake City, which has always been a great support city for me, ever since we performed there during the Winter Olympics. It is so fun -- as you said, after doing the polished CD thing -- to go out and do something that is off the cuff, and get out there and play.

John: Salt Lake City is also where you did your first arena performance.

Groban: It was, absolutely! It was the first arena I had played in my entire career, so, to be back there, to thank the fans and get something documented there, was very special for all of us.

John: Tell us about the songs on the new CD/DVD. It's a culmination of three albums, correct?

Groban: It is. Now that we have three albums out, we can kind of decide, setlistwise, what works best in the flow of the show. Obviously, it was the "Awake" tour, so a lot of the songs are from "Awake" are on there, but lots of stuff from the previous albums as well. So it's a good mix.

Here is a sample of the playlist: "Canto Alla Vita" and "Alla Luce del Sole," from Groban's double-platinum, self-titled 2001 debut; "You Raise Me Up" and "Remember When It Rained," from the multi-platinum, 2003 album "Closer." From the "Awake" album: "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)," "February Song" and "Lullaby."

Released in September 2006, "Awake" debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard album chart, and has sold more than 2 million copies in the U.S.

John: You are classically trained, but what have been the major influences in your singing career?

Groban: I am inspired by anybody in any genre who isn't afraid to take risks, who isn't afraid to introduce new audiences to what they do, and not be tied down to any given category. I have classical training, but I am also inspired by world music, rock music, pop music, classical, and I try to incorporate it into what I do while trying to maintain a unique voice. It is challenging, but much more worthwhile in the long run, to try and take that challenge.

John: So, what other challenges are you looking forward to this year, next year, and in your future?

Groban: The great thing is that it feels like there is still so much more to do. For me, I feel what I would like to tap into is just the tip of the iceberg. I am going to relax a little bit -- come home, relax with my dog and work on my next album. Then we will see how the next album goes, and I think there are going to be some surprises on it, for sure.

John: You are also going to be performing for Nelson Mandela for his birthday.

Groban: Yes, absolutely. I am going in a couple of weeks for his 90th birthday in Hyde Park, joining a really incredible list of artists. We are all so honored to be there for him, and it is really going to be a fun concert.

John: Are you also getting involved with your charity work as well with this?

Groban: Yes, anything with Mandela, there are always undertones with the phenomenal charity work that he's doing, and I am sure this concert will be benefiting his foundation. My fans have raised a lot of money for him. They have raised over $2 million for my foundation. It is something that I hold very near and dear to my heart, and is something that is kind of my favorite hobby, is working on my charity.

John: Also, I hear you are getting dating tips from John Mayer.

Groban: (laughing) You know, he knows what he's doing. No, John's a good friend. It is so funny. You say a little comment on a red carpet somewhere as a complete joke. He texted me after I said it, and he's just like, "Greatest comment ever!" He's a good guy, but I'm doing all right, too.

John: (laughing) Then you invite Chris Rock over to your place after the Emmys.

Groban: Chris Rock? No, Kid Rock.

John: Did I say Chris? I meant Kid Rock.

Groban: No, Chris Rock hasn't come yet. I would love to have Chris Rock come to my place. I've got lots of friends in many different genres. That's the fun thing about the music industr,y is that you run into people at parties, and even though you do completely different styles, everybody is generally very friendly and really open. I have been very fortunate to make a lot of really nice friends.

Josh Groban's new live CD/DVD, "Awake Live," is now out in stores. The concert will also air on PBS this summer. The "Soundstage" primetime concert series on PBS will kick off June 26.