You Raise Me Up
"I hope to break through the Top 40, not by changing what I do but by changing the way people think." Josh Groban.
Classical-pop singer Josh Groban, known for his mature and versatile lyrical baritone voice, broke the music scene with the release of his triple platinum self-titled debut album in 2001. The young singing sensation who was discovered by multi-Grammy-winning producer/writer/arranger David Foster later scored big with his cover of Brian Kennedy's "You Raise Me Up," from his second studio album, Closer (2003). His latest album, Awake, was recently released in early November 2006, with the lead single "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)."
TV viewers also remembered the 6' 0½" tall, curly-haired Los Angeles native playing geeky teen Malcolm Wyatt on the season finale of Fox's hit "Ally McBeal" in 2001. More personally, the romantic crooner reportedly just split with his girlfriend of three years, actress January Jones (born January 5, 1978), who can be seen in American Wedding (2003) and Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights (2004).
"As a new artist there's always outside influences trying to tell you how to make a song better for radio [and] how to do your hair." Josh Groban.
Childhood and Family:
On February 27, 1981, Joshua Winslow Groban was born in Los Angeles, California, to a Jewish American father, Jack (a descendant of immigrants from Poland and Russia), and a Norwegian American mother, Lindy. His father converted to Christianity upon marriage, and Groban was raised an Episcopalian. Josh has a younger brother named Christopher, with whom he shares a birthday only four years later.
In 1997 and 1998, Groban attended the prestigious Interlochen Arts Camp, majoring in musical theater, while starting to take voice lessons outside of school. He recalled: "I started taking music lessons on the side. I was very much into musical theater. I had a pretty good baritone voice, so I began acting and singing in school productions".
Josh finally graduated from the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (as a theater major) in 1999. After graduation, he expected to attend Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA. He currently resides in Beverly Hills.
Big Time Baritone
"I sang all my life. My parents had me singing around the house when I was younger. I'm not from a showbiz family or anything. It's just something I enjoyed doing. When I started getting into seventh or eighth grade, I became part of the theater program. I went to LA County High School for the Arts and did more singing there. It's really something I did on the side and then I met David Foster. I was working with a voice teacher who was a friend of the family's. David Foster called him and told him he needed a singer for an event he was doing. That's how that started." Josh Groban.
Growing up in a music-loving family, Josh Groban has begun playing piano, drums and penny whistle since in grade school. In seventh grade, he debuted as a singer, but soon after, he put singing on hold for a few years to study at Bridges Academy. He recalled: "I enjoyed the arts aspects, but my grades were slipping. I didn't feel that I was getting enough creative input. So I went to Bridges Academy to get my grades up to straight A's."
While attending studying musical theater at the Interlochen Arts Camp in 1997-1998, Groban began taking voice lessons outside of school. In the late of 1998, he was introduced by his vocal coach to Grammy-winning producer/arranger David Foster, who was looking for singers to perform at the inauguration ceremonies of California Governor Joseph Graham 'Gray' Davis Jr. at the time. And after Foster heard a demo of Groban singing, the 17-year-old was promptly called in to rehearse for the event.
Groban recounted: "I was studying with a vocal coach who knew David Foster. And David called and told me he needed a singer right away for an inaugural program for the Governor of California."
A month after his performance at the inauguration in January 1999, Foster called again. He and asked Groban to fill in for opera singer Andrea Bocelli singing "The Prayer" at the rehearsals for the 1999 telecast of the Grammy Awards. Groban initially declined: "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 Groban sped down to the auditorium, where he sang the Oscar nominated song with international superstar Celine Dion. His performance caught the attention of Grammy host Rosie O'Donnell, who later invited him to appear on her syndicated talk show, where she playfully dubbed him "opera boy."
Shortly afterward, Groban was selected for Carnegie Mellon's prestigious musical theatre department. He revealed: "I was thrilled to be singing for David. But also knew that Carnegie Mellon was a great opportunity."
He later put his education on hold when Warner Bros. Records offered him an exclusive recording contract through Foster's 143 imprint. "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," Foster commented.
On November 20, 2001, Groban's eponymous self-titled debut album was released. Under Foster's influence, the album focused more on the classics with songs such as "Gira Con Me" and "Alle Luce Del Sole." It peaked at No. 8 on Billboard's Top 200 chart, and reached triple platinum status by January 2003.
Meanwhile, he went on to perform "There For Me" with Sarah Brightman on her 2000-2001 La Luna Tour and made his recording debut by singing "For Always" with Lara Fabian on the soundtrack to Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated sci-fi movie, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence (2001; starring Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law).
He also performed in many benefit shows, including "The Andre Agassi Grand Slam Event For Children" (alongside Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Don Henley and Robin Williams), "Muhammad Ali's Fight Night Foundation" (honored Michael J. Fox and others), "The Family Celebration" (2001; co-hosted by President Clinton and his wife, Hillary Rodham Clinton, and David E. Kelley and his wife, Michelle Pfeiffer) and Michael Milken's CapCure event, which raises funds for cancer research.
During The Family Celebration event, David E. Kelley, the creator of Fox’s hit drama comedy "Ally McBeal," was impressed at Groban's performance. Kelley then created a character for Josh in "Ally McBeal" finale, Malcolm Wyatt, a geeky high school student who gave up singing. In episode The Wedding in May 2001, Groban's Wyatt performing "You're Still You." The character was so popular that Groban was asked to come back the next season to reprise his role in episode Nine One One in December 2001, performing "To Where You Are."
At the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics on February 24, 2002, Groban performed "The Prayer" with Welsh classical-pop singer Charlotte Church. By November 2002, he had his own PBS special, Josh Groban In Concert. He subsequently spent the end of the year performing "To Where You Are" and "The Prayer" at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway, and joined The Corrs, Ronan Keating, Sting, Lionel Richie and others for a holiday performance at the Vatican in Rome, Italy.
Closer, Groban's second studio album, hit the music stores on November 23, 2003. Much like his first studio album, half of Closer's songs are sung in English, with the rest sung in various foreign languages (Italian, Spanish, and French). Just two months after its release, Closer climbed the Billboard charts from #11 to #1. Groban also became very popular on the adult contemporary charts with his cover of Irish singer Brian Kennedy's "You Raise Me Up," which went to the top of the Billboard AC Charts and remained there for 6 weeks. Groban later performed it at Super Bowl 2004, in a special NASA commemoration for the crew of the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster, and sang it as a surprise performance for Oprah Winfrey's 50th birthday. The song later received a nomination at the 2005 Grammy awards.
"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." Josh Groban (on his album Closer (2003)).
As for movie soundtracks, Groban was featured in the song "Remember Me" with Tanja Tzarovska for Wolfgang Petersen's 2004 epic, Troy (starring Brad Pitt, Eric Bana and Orlando Bloom), and in the song "Believe" for Robert Zemeckis's 2004 animated film based on the children's book by Chris Van Allsburg, The Polar Express. He also delivered a legendary performance to local residents of Michigan, during the summer of 2004.
Groban's second live DVD, Live At The Greek, was released on On November 30, 2004, and it became a Great Performances special on PBS. That same year at the American Music Awards (AMA), where he was up for Favorite Male Artist in the pop category, Groban performed "Remember When It Rained," backed by a full orchestra. By this time, the young singer’s recordings were nominated for more than a dozen awards, including the American Music Award, World Music Award, Academy Award and a Grammy.
"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." Josh Groban (on his new album Awake (2006)).
Announced on September 13, 2006, Awake, Groban's third studio album, was officially released on November 7, 2006. It features guest appearances by the vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. The album’s first single, "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)," was exclusively released to AOL's First Listen. The album came out in two editions, the regular version with 13 tracks, and an Internet Edition, available on Groban's website, that contains three extra tracks, "Verita," "Awake" and "Smile." He is getting ready to support the album with a North American arena tour, beginning on February 17 next year in Verona, NY, and go until the beginning of April. He will also hit a few cities in Canada along the way.
"No matter what your age and no matter where you come from, everyone can change the world in some way, whether it's being a mentor to someone younger than you or someone that doesn't have as much experience as you. If you're passionate enough, you can do whatever you want and definitely change the world." Josh Groban.