Success to the Class Good Guy
December 7, 2006
By Niels Pedersen
(Thank you to mynse for this transcript)
Josh Groban got his breakthrough when he sang with Celine Dion in 1999 at the Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Actually it was only at the rehearsals but it was enough for the -– at that time -– 17-year-old singer that had to be stand-in for the tenor, Andrea Bocelli.
”I had never sung with anyone at such a level before, I was terrified. I was shaking so much that Celine had to hold my hand while we were singing. Fortunately it went well, and we are still good friends,” Josh Groban tells. He has thrown away the stage fear and is today one of USA’s most popular younger pop stars. His genre is the easy-listening music, which exists somewhere between classical and pop, between the Three Tenors and Elton John, and where newer artists like Il Divo, Andrea Bocelli, Sarah Brightman and Sissel Kyrkjebø are placed as well. Something with grand ballads, maybe even an aria in Italian, and everything wrapped in symphony orchestra and nice hair.
It’s a part of the music industry that grows explosively. Josh Groban’s new album ”Awake” recently ranged as number 2 on the American chart after selling 270,000 copies in a week. The 25-year-old singer has a huge amount of fans in Ireland, the UK, Norway and Sweden, but Denmark and other European countries are behind, and that has to be changed, says his record company that until Christmas launches ”Awake” with every possible marketing and promotion.
But why shall we buy his music? ”Because it’s good,” laughs Groban over the phone.
”I don’t think the European audience has listened to the music and rejected it. I just have to be more visible. We have to add a face to the songs. In order to do that I travel around and perform in various TV shows. I’m determined that this record has to get out to many people.”
What can you give us that we don’t have already?
”Me. Of course, other artists make the same kind of music style and have the same role models in rock or classical music, but I am my own. The music comes from an honest place.”
Josh Groban tells that he grew up in a home with a piano. His parents are not in show business but they are interested in art though, and already as a child he was presented for many types of culture. ”I used that and was affected. At an early age I knew that I would be something involving music.”
As a teenager he practised and dreamed big, and he got his platform when he met the producer, David Foster –- a successful man in the business with a tendency to ballads and experience from projects with, among others, Chicago and Whitney Houston. His credits include popular productions such as ”I Will Always Love You”, ”Hard to Say I’m Sorry” and ”Unbreak My Heart.” David Foster heard the potential of Josh Groban and asked him to practise with Celine Dion.
”In the beginning he was the one to say: You can do this, and I’ll help you. Today he is my producer and friend and let me go in order for me to look for the sounds and songs that I have the passion for. Although it’s nice to know that he is always ready to help,” says Josh Groban.
”I was 19 or 20 years old when I became professional, and I realised that it’s all about the people that are around you. The record company doesn’t mean that much. It’s the people close to you who advise you that make a difference. Music is about honesty, but the business is not always honest.”
You Raise Me Up
The song that more than any other song has given Josh success. He sang it on the 2003 Closer album and hit a universal, uplifting tone that has made the song the favorite among hopeful participants, pop stars, grandmas, as well as Christian pop fans. You can find hundreds of bizarre versions on YouTube.
”It’s a song that you are able to interpret as you want. When I heard it for the first time, I thought of experiences in my own life. Others think about something in their lives. The song can be about God, your family, friends, a teacher. A person that helps you to live up to your potential. The message is universal” Josh thinks.
Originally the song is Norwegian recorded as a new-age-like folk-rock by the former Eurovision song contest winners, Secret Garden with a Celtic touch. Josh Groban heard ”You Raise Me Up” on the radio in Dublin and remembered it when he later on was in the studio with David Foster. The song was recorded rapidly and had a good atmosphere around it.
”Though it didn’t sound like a radio hit. It wasn’t pop like Beyoncé or Justin Timberlake, but the lyrics are based on true feelings, and when people first discovered it they couldn’t get enough. It is simply a very good song.”
In the U.S. the song has often been played in relation with memorial ceremonies after September 11, 2001, and some commentators even think ”You Raise Me Up” became a hit because the Americans had a need for music that was calming and healing.
Josh Groban sees the relation. ”If people look for that kind of feelings, they find it in You Raise Me Up. It might be the song hit the atmosphere after 9/11 but most of all the success of the song shows me the fact that the audience is willing to try something different from the music they are forced to watch on a daily basis in radio and tv. For the moment a lot of quality music is around, and people seem interested. I’m honored to be a part of that movement.”