Josh Groban Sings for His Supper
Sunday Times
December 1, 2004
International classical and rock singer Josh Groban awed fans at an exclusive dinner in aid of Unite Against Hunger in Sandton on Tuesday night.

More than a thousand people attended the glittering evening at the Sandton Convention Centre - donating R20000 a table to be there.

Groban, who played the piano, drums and keyboards on stage, performed Remember When It Rained and To Where You Are from his second album, Closer.

He told the audience he loved sad songs.

Groban was joined on stage by the Rhema choir in singing the spiritual and inspirational, You Raise Me Up. The sensational Groban was accompanied by New York-born violin prodigy Lucia Micarelli, whom he regards highly.

The audience shouted for an encore after he had finished performing and he returned to the stage and sang a solo.

Groban received a five platinum award for sales in South Africa from Gallo Records' Sipho Sithole.

Accepting the award, the tall handsome American singer thanked South Africans "from the bottom of my heart" for their overwhelming support.

South Africa is Groban's third biggest market after the United States and Canada.

He said he hoped the trip would be one of many visits to the country.

South African artists who performed at the dinner included The Black Tie Ensemble, Danny K, Mandoza, Mara Louw and Idols runner-up and Poseletso.

The dinner was hosted by Classic FM and SABC's All You Need is Love presenter Zwai Bala.

Mandoza's "Nkalakatha" which is known for getting South Africans from all walks of life to the dance floor, made those at the dinner wish they had dressed less formal so that they can get down.

Danny K sang Whose That Girl and Mara Louw and Poseletso sang a duo.

Louw surprised the audience when she invited Rhema pastor Ray McCauley to the stage to dance to Miriam Makeba's all-time hit "Phathaphatha".

Earlier on Tuesday, Groban had visited Soweto as part of his Unite Against Hunger tour.

The 22-year-old Joshua Winslow Groban was born in Los Angeles, California.

As a child, he was exposed to many kinds of music from rock to musical theatre by his parents. As a result he grew up respecting music and the intimate connection between a performer and the audience.

It is therefore not surprising that talented singer has won fans worldwide.

His self-titled 2001 album, featuring the International hit Where You Are sold in excess of 10 million copies worldwide.

Critics often describe Groban's music as "ballads with a classical influence".

However, he says his music does not necessarily fall under any specific genre, and that he leaves it to his audience to decide.

At the age of 17, Groban's life changed drastically when his vocal coach submitted his tape to a man who was to later become his producer David Foster.

By fate, he was called to fill in for Andrea Bocelli, who was expected to do a duet The Prayer with Celine Dion at the 1999 Grammy Awards.

After this, he performed at theatres and high-profile charity events - one of which was attended by former United States president Bill Clinton.

It was on Ally McBeal that he got International exposure when he performed a solo You're Still You. Many people thought the song had been dubbed and that Groban had not been one singing the song.

Ironically, his mother Lindy also did not know that it was his son who sang when she heard his voice outside the auditorium when he sang a solo for the first time at the school's cabaret night.

Groban has also performed at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics, at the Nobel Peace Ceremonies and for the Pope at the Vatican.

He has toured Norway, Spain, United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Netherlands and Germany. Groban will wrap-up his South African tour at Cape Town's Kirstenbosch Gardens on Friday.

His fans - the Grobanites, as he referred to them himself - would be happy to know that he has recently recorded a new song called Believe, which would be on the soundtrack to the Christmas movie The Polar Express.