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Popera Star

Posted November. 22, 2006 06:55,   


When people first heard Josh Groban sing five years ago, they reacted in two ways: “Is he really twenty?” and “Is that his real voice?”

Josh Groban (aged 25), an American “popera” singer, debuted at the age of 20. Chosen by producer David Foster, Groban came into the spotlight for his voice, which was mature for his young age. He was so successful that even in Korea, some of his hit songs, such as “To Where You Are” and “You Raise Me Up,” were inserted into TV commercials. However, he must have been treated as a stuffy youngster from time to time for his maturity. My e-mail interview with Groban started by touching upon his innate maturity.

“I have a deep, adult-like voice. So people wouldn’t see me a 20-something. Perhaps because of that, I have been loved by people of different age groups. Still, I like to wear jeans on stage rather than a suit,” said Groban.

“It is my inborn blessing,” the singer said about his voice. Indeed, it is his voice, which can express every subtle vibrancy, is what made him a star singer in the popera world.

“After my first album was released, I felt like I had everything. At the same time, however, I was scared that everything I had achieved might disappear all of a sudden. Then, I realized that only after I sing with a voice that is true to my heart, would I be able to touch the audience. So, it’s like I’ve had growing pains for the past five years.”

Signs that show Groban has grown are evident in his newly released 3rd album. “Awake,” the new album in three years, has a different style from Groban’s 1st and 2nd albums, which sold more than 13 million copies. He named his recent album “Awake” to reflect his aspiration to always stay awake, be it in his music or in life. So, instead of doing “emotional popera,” this time he covered a variety of genres of music, including world music and fusion jazz. Such songs as “Machine,” in which jazz artist Herbie Hancock participated for production, “My,” a song with a grandiose feel like what one senses before seeing the Grand Canyon, and “You Are Loved- Don’t Give Up,” the title song that is about holding an optimistic view of life, apparently demonstrate that now Groban has grown enough to stand on his own without Foster’s help.

“Foster is a reliable supporter of mine. He started to treat me as the main hero in this latest album. I portrayed my life philosophy of ‘being optimistic at all times’ in the album.”

The new album was ranked in second place on the Billboard Chart as of November 25. To my comment that now he has become as famous as popera singers as Andrea Bocelli and Sarah Brightman, he noted, “Popera is only the genre created by the media. I’ve never confined my music to popera.” Groban, who seemed serious, unlike an ordinary 20-something, concluded the interview by saying, “They say girls like my voice. I think nothing could make me happier than that.”