Joshua Winslow Groban (born February 27, 1981) is an American singer, songwriter, actor, and record producer. His first four solo albums have been certified multi-platinum, and he was charted in 2007 as the number-one best selling artist in the United States, with over 22.3 million records. As of 2012, he had sold over 25 million records worldwide.
Groban originally studied acting, but moved to singing as his voice developed. Groban attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, a free public school on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles, where students receive a conservatory-style education. David Foster called Groban to stand in for an ailing Andrea Bocelli to rehearse a duet, "The Prayer", with Celine Dion at the rehearsal for the 1998 Grammy Awards. Rosie O'Donnell immediately invited him to appear on her talk show. Foster asked him to sing at the California Governor's Gray Davis' 1999 inauguration. He was cast on Ally McBeal by the show's creator, David E. Kelley, performing "You're Still You" for the 2001 season 4 finale.
Josh Groban was born in Los Angeles, California, to Jack Groban, a businessman, and Lindy (née Johnston) Groban, a school teacher. Josh's younger brother, Chris, was born on Josh's fourth birthday. Josh's father is a descendant of Jewish immigrants from Poland and Ukraine, and converted from Judaism to Christianity upon marrying Josh's mother. Josh's mother's ancestry includes English, German, and Norwegian; one of her own grandfathers had also been Jewish. His parents are Episcopalians.
Groban first sang in public when he was in the seventh grade. His music teacher chose him to sing a solo of "S'wonderful" at the school's cabaret night, where he sang alone on stage for the first time. At this time, he was more focused on acting, playing Tevye in his high school's production of Fiddler on the Roof. In the summers of 1997 and 1998, he also attended the Interlochen Center for the Arts Camp in Michigan, majoring in music theater, and began taking vocal lessons. He went on to attend the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts as a theater major and graduated in 1999. He was admitted to and briefly attended Carnegie Mellon University, intending to study musical theatre, but left four months into his first semester after being offered a recording contract and deciding to pursue his singing career.
In late 1998, the 17-year-old Groban was introduced by his vocal coach, Seth Riggs, to Grammy-winning producer and arranger David Foster and future manager Brian Avnet. At the time, Groban had no recording experience and was preparing to begin studying at Carnegie Mellon University. Groban worked for David Foster as a rehearsal singer on a series of high-profile events, including the January 1999 inauguration of Gray Davis as Governor of California and the 1999 Grammy Awards where—as a stand-in for Andrea Bocelli—he rehearsed Foster's "The Prayer" with Céline Dion. According to manager Avnet, Groban was very nervous about standing in for Bocelli and had to be talked into it, but his performance prompted the show hostess, Rosie O'Donnell, to ask him to appear on her show the following week, which then led to an appearance on Ally McBeal. Creator David E. Kelley created character Malcolm Wyatt for Groban in the season finale aired in May 2001. The character of Malcolm Wyatt was so popular, prompting 8,000 emails from viewers, that Groban was asked to return the next season to reprise his role and perform "To Where You Are." Avnet claims this sequence of events effectively got Groban's career off the ground.
Groban was offered a recording contract at Warner Bros. Records through Foster's 143 Records imprint. Avnet told HitQuarters that Warner initially proved resistant to the deal because "They were afraid they wouldn't be able to get a voice like that on radio." Explaining his reasons for signing the artist, Foster said: "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." Under Foster's influence, Groban's first album focused more on classics such as "Gira Con Me Questa Notte" and "Alla Luce Del Sole."
Groban performed "There For Me" with Sarah Brightman on her 2000–01 La Luna World Tour, and was featured on her "La Luna" concert DVD. He recorded "For Always" with Lara Fabian on the movie soundtrack to A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001). Groban performed in many benefit shows, including: "The Andre Agassi Grand Slam Event For Children," singing alongside Elton John, Stevie Wonder, Don Henley, and Robin Williams; "Muhammad Ali's Fight Night Foundation" which honored Michael J. Fox and others; "The Family Celebration" (2001), which was co-hosted by President Bill Clinton and his wife, Hillary Clinton, and David E. Kelley and his wife, Michelle Pfeiffer; and Michael Milken's CapCure event, which raises funds for cancer research.
The singer's self-titled debut album Josh Groban was released on November 20, 2001. Over the next year it went from gold to double-platinum.
On February 24, 2002, Groban performed "The Prayer" with Charlotte Church at the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City, and by November, he had his own PBS special, "Josh Groban In Concert" (2002). In December 2002, he performed "To Where You Are" and sang "The Prayer" in a duet with Sissel Kyrkjebø at the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway. He joined The Corrs, Ronan Keating, Sting, Lionel Richie, and others for a Christmas performance at the Vatican in Rome, Italy. In 2003, Groban performed at the David Foster concert for World Children's Day, singing "The Prayer" with Celine Dion and the finale song, "Aren't They All Our Children?" with artists including Yolanda Adams, Nick Carter, Enrique Iglesias, and Celine Dion.
Groban's second album Closer, produced and written by Foster, was released on November 11, 2003. Groban said that he believed that this second album was a better reflection of him, and that his audience would be able to get a better idea of his personality from listening to it.
“ 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. ”
Two months after Closer was released, it rose on the Billboard charts from number 11 to number one. Groban's cover of "You Raise Me Up" became his third most popular song on the adult contemporary charts as of March 2004. Later that year, he also performed the song "Remember" (with Tanja Tzarovska) on the Troy soundtrack, "Believe" on the soundtrack to the 2004 animated film The Polar Express and a cover of Linkin Park's "My December".
In the summer of 2004, Groban returned to Interlochen, performing and discussing his earlier experiences with local residents and campers. On November 30, 2004, his second live DVD, Live At The Greek, was released; it was also shown as a Great Performances special on PBS. Also in 2004, Groban performed "Remember When It Rained," backed by a full orchestra, at the American Music Awards, where he was nominated for Favorite Male Artist in the pop category; he was also nominated for a People's Choice Award in that year. His recording of "Believe" secured a 2005 Academy Award nomination for the song's two writers, Glen Ballard and Alan Silvestri, and earned them a Grammy in the category Best Song Written for a Motion Picture, Television or Other Visual Media at the ceremony held in February 2006.
Groban earned his first Grammy nomination in 2005 for his single "You Raise Me Up" in the Best Male Pop Vocal Performance category. During the first week of September 2006, Groban's single entitled "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)" was released exclusively on AOL's First Listen. His third studio album Awake was officially released on November 7, 2006. Groban performed "You Are Loved (Don't Give Up)" as well as two other tracks from Awake at his recording session for Live from Abbey Road at Abbey Road Studios on 26 October 2006. On that album, Groban also collaborated on the single "Now or Never" with British musician and songwriter Imogen Heap. He performed two tracks with the South African group Ladysmith Black Mambazo, "Lullaby" and "Weeping." Groban's "Awake" world tour visited 71 cities between February and August 2007, and toured Australia and the Philippines with Lani Misalucha as his special guest in October 2007. He performed a duet with Barbra Streisand ("All I Know of Love") and with Mireille Mathieu ("Over the Rainbow"). As to his future, Groban was open to a plethora of possibilities. He said, "I am fortunate enough to have had many really big moments in my career. I think the mistake a lot of people in my position make is to always search for the next big thing. I am looking forward to playing some small theaters. I'm looking forward to writing more. I want to delve further into my acting career and explore some of the film and TV opportunities that I haven't had time for. My outlook is to expect the unexpected. And when the next step comes, I'm prepared to take it."
2010–2015: Illuminations; All That Echoes
Groban finished his fifth studio album, entitled Illuminations, and the album was released on November 15, 2010. Most of the songs on the album are about "specific situations that I've had where love has existed and ultimately failed," Groban told The New York Times, adding: "And other songs are about the quest, and it just not working out." Groban wrote 11 of the 13 songs on the album. The first single from the album, "Hidden Away," was made available for free download via Facebook on September 8. "For me to sit in a room with a piano in one take with some of Johnny Cash's musicians—that was totally new for me." Josh added. "and I think that excitement is on the record." On October 12, a second single from the upcoming album, "Você Existe Em Mim", was made available on iTunes. This song is sung in Portuguese and was written by Brazilian artist Carlinhos Brown. The Washington Post said: "Illuminations" is not a revelation, but it offers a perfectly fine, and often quite lovely, glimpse at a pop-classical crossover artist in the middle of crossing over." Groban plans on making one more record with Rick Rubin. Beginning May 12, 2011 and continuing through December of that year, Groban undertook the 81-city Straight to You Tour to promote Illuminations, encompassing appearances in North America, Europe, and South Africa.
Groban's sixth studio album, All That Echoes was released on February 5, 2013, debuting at number one by selling 141,000 copies. Groban promoted the album with the All That Echoes World Tour in 2013. A year later, he embarked on his Summer Symphony Tour.
2015–2017: Stages and Broadway debut
In March 2015, Josh Groban's Facebook page announced the release of the album Stages, consisting of covers of songs from Broadway musicals. The album was released on April 28, 2015.
Starting October 18, 2016, Groban performed on Broadway as Pierre Bezukhov in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812, an electropop opera by composer Dave Malloy based on War and Peace. For his performance as Pierre, Groban was nominated for the 2017 Tony Award for Best Actor in a Musical. His final performance as Pierre was on July 2, 2017. Groban also performed the song "Evermore" during the end credits of the 2017 Disney film Beauty and the Beast.
On March 11, 2018, tour dates were announced for Groban's Bridges Tour with special guest Idina Menzel. The US leg of the tour began on October 18, 2018 in Duluth, Georgia and concluded at Madison Square Garden in New York City on November 18. The European leg of the tour begins on December 12 at the O2 Arena in London and concludes on December 18 in Poland.
On June 26, 2018, Groban announced via social media that his album Bridges will be released on September 21 and will contain a cover of Céline Dion's song "S'il suffisait d'aimer" along with new tracks. The album debuted at number two in the US and in the top 10 in the UK and Scotland.
Various music critics have described Groban's voice in different ways, with some referring to him as a tenor and others as a baritone. In performance, Groban's music goes as low as G2 (as in the songs "To Where You Are" and "Higher Window") and extends up to at least B4 (as heard in "The Duel" from Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812). This places his voice lower than the tenor range on the low end, and just short of tenor C, and therefore above the baritone range, on the high end.
There is no authoritative system of voice classification in non-classical music. The problem lies in the fact that classical terms are used to describe not merely various vocal ranges, but specific vocal timbres each unique to those respective ranges, and produced by the classical training techniques with which most popular singers are not intimately familiar and which are not universally employed by the few that are. In a 2002 New York Times article, Groban described himself as a "tenor in training". He mentioned during his appearance on Late Show with David Letterman in December 2013 that he is a high lyric baritone. On Twitter, in March 2012, he had also mentioned that he is a baritone "with some high notes up my sleeve."