Last year marked the 20th anniversary of Josh Groban’s self-titled debut album. In the two plus decades, Groban’s career has come full circle from his early days working with the renowned record producer David Foster.
Groban, who comes to Darien Lake on July 1 along with special guests New Orleans' Preservation Hall Jazz Band, violinist/singer Lucia Micarelli and singer-songwriter Eleri Ward, was introduced to Foster when he was 17 years old.
“For any of us that had an opportunity to be mentored by David, he didn’t just flip a switch even if we did have something natural,” Groban noted during a recent phone interview.
Foster has a reputation for being a perfectionist, but even at a young age Groban understood the importance of having a good mentor.
”Having someone who knows how to pull things together like David was the perfect marriage. Sure, he pushes, but it's like a great football coach that knows what to do to get the best of his players.”
Early on, Groban wanted to be an actor, but at the suggestion of Foster, he put his acting dreams on hold. They weren’t on hold for long, and Groban has had a multitude of acting opportunities in film, television and on Broadway.
“I really wanted to do theater and singing was a part of what you had to be good at, but when David put me in front of a microphone, it made me put aside something else I was passionate about on the sidelines. To have it come full circle and be welcomed on Broadway, it’s incredible to find my way back to that original dream.”
“It’s all storytelling,” Groban noted. “It has a rhythm and emotional honesty and seeing the world through a different lens and bringing people along for the ride. Working with David helped me express myself in different ways. I had always done it through the eyes of other characters.”
Groban’s parents encouraged and supported his pursuit of the arts. He mentioned that his first two concerts were New Kids on the Block and Elton John, and that over the last two decades he has been able to meet and sing with many of his idols.
“I was very lucky growing up in Los Angeles, my parents were very generous and took us to a lot of shows, and exposed us to a lot of arts. Being able to go to Interlochen arts camp in Michigan where you study theater and see concerts that come through. I first saw Preservation Hall Jazz Band when I was there and fell in love with their music, and now we are out on tour with them.”
Groban’s voice has an ethereal quality that offers comfort to many people, and communities that have experienced a tragedy. It was not lost on him that he will be performing Western New York so soon after a major tragedy.
“It seems like we are all dealing with more tragedies in every city. I am fortunate to be able to meet people, and they tell me stories about when they first heard my music, but I don’t know if it's the type of music I perform, but many people tell me my music has brought healing to them.”
“Hearing how music has been healing for them is really special to me, because it has been healing for me, especially being able to write and perform it for people. When you hear stories about the healing power of music it reminds me how important all the arts are to the healing process in every community. If I am a small part of that by having a nice escape, that is the greatest gift.”
Tickets for Groban’s performance at Darien Lake start at $25 and are available through Ticketmaster.
Thom Jennings covers the local music scene for Night and Day.