One of the leading classical crossover artists of his generation, Josh Groban has a warm voice, superb vocal technique, and a wide vocal range that allows him to sing both tenor arias and more baritone-friendly pop standards. Although based in classical music, Groban's eclectic taste has found him incorporating a variety of genres into his albums, from opera to bluegrass to folk to melodic pop.
Born in Los Angeles in 1981, Groban began singing in seventh grade, but then put music aside for a few years until he enrolled at the Interlochen Arts Program. In late 1998, he hooked up with a friend of his vocal coach, producer/writer/arranger David Foster. Groban worked for Foster as a rehearsal singer on a series of high-profile events, including the California gubernatorial inauguration of Grey Davis and the Grammy Awards (at which he rehearsed Foster's "The Prayer" with Celine Dion in place of Andrea Bocelli). He was accepted into the theater department of Carnegie Mellon University, but put his education on hold when he was offered a recording contract at Warner Bros. through Foster's 143 imprint.
He made his recording debut singing "For Always" with Lara Fabian on the soundtrack to A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, and appeared in the 2001 season finale of the television series Ally McBeal. His debut album, Josh Groban, was released in November 2001. Over the next year, Groban became a star. His album went double platinum, and he had his own PBS special in November 2002. A month later, he performed "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.
In November 2003, Groban issued his second album, Closer. Two months later, he earned his first number one record when Closer skyrocketed from number 11 to the top spot on the Billboard album charts. It continued charting and selling well, eventually earning a quintuple-platinum certification -- making it the best-selling classical album of the decade. Three years later, in 2006, Groban released his third studio album, Awake, featuring guest appearances by the vocal group Ladysmith Black Mambazo and jazz pianist Herbie Hancock. The album nearly equaled its predecessor, earning a double-platinum certification. The holiday-themed Noel appeared in 2007, with Awake Live following in 2008.
In 2010, Groban decided to mix things up, joining famed producer Rick Rubin for his fifth studio album, the Americana-informed Illuminations. It charted well, peaking at number four in the U.S., and earned positive reviews. In 2013, Groban returned with the Rob Cavallo-produced All That Echoes, featuring guest appearances from trumpeter Arturo Sandoval and Italian singer Laura Pausini. All That Echoes debuted at number one on the Billboard charts, and Groban sustained his popularity through various cameos on television and movies. He returned to the studio for 2015's Stages, a collection of songs from musicals like Les Misérables, The Phantom of the Opera, and Carousel, as well as classic songs from The Wizard of Oz and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. An accompanying live CD/DVD recording for PBS was released in early 2016 with guest appearances from Kelly Clarkson ("All I Ask of You") and Audra McDonald ("If I Loved You"). ~ William Ruhlmann