Groban Thrills Local Fans With All-SA String Orchestra
The Star Tonight
November 29, 2004
International phenomenon Josh Groban - whose fervent fans are called "Grobanites" - has wowed a Sun City Superbowl audience.

The 22-year-old baritone's first South African tour - being held in support of Unite Against Hunger - kicked off on Saturday night and received a standing ovation.

The classical sensation gave an extravagant performance of his songs in English, Spanish and Italian.

Groban performed at the Northgate Dome in Johannesburg last night and will also be in action in Cape Town on Friday. He was joined on stage by American violin virtuoso Lucia Micarelli, whose debut album, Farther Room, was recently released locally.

The New York-born, Hawaiian-raised Micarelli started studying the violin at the age of 3 and made her orchestral debut with the Honolulu Symphony three years later.

Groban's concert featured a 16-piece all-South-African string orchestra. Twenty members from the Rhema Church also joined him for the song You Raise Me Up.

The tall, curly haired and classical rock singer, who was born in Los Angeles, also sang one of his favourites, Remember, a tribute to 9/11 victims.

Groban first made his mark in 1999, when record producer David Foster asked the then 17-year-old to sing at the Grammy's rehearsal, filling in for Andrea Bocelli and dueting with Celine Dion.

Since the release of his successful 2001 debut album - Josh Groban, which featured the international hit To Where You Are - he has become a musical phenomenon, selling more than 10-million albums worldwide.

His South African sales stand at more than 250 000 units, making him one of the biggest international artists in the country, the organisers of his tour said.

South Africa is his third biggest market after the United States and Canada.

Last year saw the release of Closer, his second album, which features the hit single You Raise Me Up, and boasts a guest artist roster led by world-class violinist Joshua Bell and the innovative French duo Deep Forest.

Groban has made a string of television appearances, which included a small role in the series Ally McBeal.

He released Josh Groban in Concert in 2002 and his appearance last year on the PBS programme Great Performances was a big hit.

Earlier this year, Groban released his second studio album, Closer, and continued to star on TV, including an appearance at the Super Bowl halftime show, which was eclipsed by the antics of Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson.

Groban has hit No 1 three times on the adult contemporary chart in the US, has sang with Barbra Streisand and performed on the Oprah Winfrey Show. Sapa