“This was such a passion project that I thought maybe it was a little self-indulgent,” says Josh Groban. “But show after show, I would meet fans and they would say ‘When are you going to do a Broadway album?’ And any time I would dip my toes into that world, they went nuts. So I thought, maybe this is actually a win-win—maybe not only is this something I really wanted to make for a long time, but the fans really frickin’ want to hear this album.”

Josh GrobranGroban, who has sold over 25 million records worldwide, sat down at Pandora’s New York City offices for an exclusive conversation about his new album, Stages. The record marks the first time that the singer has dedicated an entire project to songs that originated in musical theater. (In addition to the interview, Groban worked with Pandora worked to curate a custom mixtape, launching today, featuring his favorite songs from a wider range of Broadway
musicals.)

“I’m surprised I haven’t done an album like this sooner,” he says. “I got the bug for this kind of music very early in my life. My parents had the wherewithal to pull us away from MTV and Nickelodeon and take us out to see shows. But I wanted to make sure that I was in the right place in my life, that I could tell these stories and have lived through some of them, that vocally I could really tackle them.”

The selections on Stages range from more traditional Broadway classics (“Over the Rainbow,” “You’ll Never Walk Alone”) to songs that have become standards for a new generation (“Bring Him Home” from Les MiserablesA Chorus Line’s “What I Did for Love”). Kelly Clarkson joins Groban on “All I Ask of You” from The Phantom of the Opera, and Audra McDonald duets on Carousel’s “If I Loved You.” Stages includes three songs written by the incomparable Stephen Sondheim, and Groban even took on “Pure Imagination,” Gene Wilder’s theme from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

“We picked songs that I grew up loving, and I felt like, at least for a first record like this, they needed to be from shows that I experienced personally and really know in-depth,” says Groban. “The songs that had the most personal stories were the ones that had to be on the record. ‘All I Ask of You’ was the first song I ever sang in my whole career. That’s full circle, so I needed to find a really kick-ass duet partner, and Kelly Clarkson was just amazing.”

Singing material from musical theater even allowed Groban to draw on his acting chops, which he’s displayed in numerous film and television appearances, including roles on The Office and Parks and Recreation. While he’s working on finding the best way to take the Stages songs back to the stage (“There wasn’t a moment that went by recording this album when I wasn’t thinking about how cool the live show could be”), for now Josh Groban is also still sorting out how his performances of such classic compositions fits into their legacy.

“Singing songs that have been sung hundreds of times, the self-conscious, self-critical side of me says ‘Why me? What am I doing here?’ I feel that way half the time I go out on stage—‘What are these people doing here?’ I needed to say that, OK, there have been a hundred people who have sung this song, but I haven’t sung it yet. And if somebody likes my version, then it would have been worth it.”

By Alan Light

Comments

  1. Wendy Hutton Little
    May 13, 2015 at 12:43am
    Josh, you are an amazing person and have a wonderful vocal talent. I usually watch the site carefully to ensure I get tickets every year. This year, I'm afraid, I'm missing your concert. I have some health snafus that need repair before I can set dates to see concerts. I was working as a critical care nurse when I contracted an aseptic meningitis, ON of the cardiac catheterization lab nurses contracted the same thing at the same time and we were both left with horrific, unrelenting migraines. In 2006, I had an occipital neurostimulator placed. I was amazed at the efficacy of the treatment. Not only was the pain gone, the additional symptoms such as, lack of balance, visual disturbances (scotoma and depth perception issues) nausea and vomiting...... disappeared as well. It is a treatment that should be available to more. I'd be happy to advocate for that, I can speak from both sides f the health care construct and I'm knowledgeable. my leads, however, have migrated and a number of them are non functional. I need them moved and they are putting more in in the temporal region , which would really help me. I've had to change insurances since it was placed, so the second insurance is trying to get out of paying for it. I am now back to migraining almost every day and am so fortunate to have my pups to keep me moving and in some degree of shape, though between the days sent curled up with the bucket and those with the back pain (I caught a 290 lb patient going head first off of the other side of a scanning table and safely placed him in the proper position and moved my back into a really bad position, better now, but do not ever want to be in a situation where I am expected to be a human forklift again. I've going fro working full time , swimming 3 k, three or four times weekly, doing 2 to 4 hour karate training sessions 3 time a week to not working and often becoming one with the couch. my dogs have been saving graces. They make me move, even if I feel horrible. They help me when I'm sick, but keep me walking. I'm sorry if some of this was graphing. I just wanted you to know the extreme situation that is keeping me from your concert You are the one concert I love every year. I also would like to recruit those who have a voice to help stop the way nurses are worked . There are so many ways to keep nurses safer. I also thought it would be great to have a celebrity advocate from neurostimulation for many pain treatments as standard treatment. I also really wanted you to know why I wouldn't be there and what I've done to get there in years past. I love your music. I've used it with my patients. It has helped them work their airways and keep them from being re-intubated. It's also lifted their spirits, which is so important for the critically ill. I lost my father in December. He was my best friend. He was a military surgeon who had perfect pitch and should have been a musician, though he loved surgery and was great at it. The piece: To Where You Are means so much more to me now. Dad was a very decorated and loved military surgeon who did 39 years active duty, then taught for 18 more at the military medical school. I miss him so much as do many of his former medical students and residents, Your music brought me piece at the time of his passing. Thanks for all you do. I hope you realize how you really reach peoples souls. You are an amazing musician with a quick wit and an amazing and loving spirit. You have a lot of insight into a lot for personalities and some of your songs feel as if they were written about me, which means I'm understood and that makes life a lot less lonely, especially when all of the time I was supposed to be out finding a spouse, I was really I had a few really healthy years, got married, a couple more years, then a back injury, a brown recluse bite a car injury and my 14th major surgery and I've not bounced back as before. Maybe next year I'll go to your concert twice. If you ever need a cause to support, nurses who need safer working environments ( I could tell you some terrifying stories, someone has to stay something. Do not ever let a family member stay in the hospital without a great friend or family member to advocate really, nurses are so busy, that's how errors occur!) would be great. Neurostimulation would be a good cause , Many are newer thus, it's not covered by many insurances, It should be. one or my favorite, support for homeless or abused dogs. I won the rescue dog lottery with my 3 year old Aidan, but this letter is to old, so you'll have to read that some other time. Thanks for sharing your talents, your humor , your intellect and your kindness. I hope next year I'll be there in the front row, in musical heaven. thanks for reading this long and somewhat disorganized letter. I'm migranous now and it doesn't help me stay completely on track. thanks for reading. Thank you. Warmest Regards, Wendy Hutton Little
    Reply
    1. PandoraSupport
      May 13, 2015 at 10:08am
      Hi Wendy - Thanks for sharing your story with us. We hope you have an opportunity to see Josh live soon! We'd love to reach out and send you some Pandora swag. Please email us at social@pandora.com if you're interested. -Kim
      Reply
    2. Heather Stubbs
      May 16, 2015 at 8:48pm
      Hello, Windy. My name is Heather Stubbs, and I've been suffering with Atypical Trigeminal Neuralgia, and it's bilateral. I've passed out from the pain, too, and what makes it so frustrating is that our medical system is so completely dysfunctional and they've taken the "care" out of healthcare. It's like having a body without a soul, except that there are so many souls who are completely ignored or even disreguarded. I've had this condition for 38 years, and Josh has renewed my faith that there are people who actually do care. I have been trying to get the Deep Brain Stimulator for nearly 4 years, and absolutely no go! Why? Our medical industry is totally driven by the pharmaceudical industry, so it's all aabout treating symptoms, and they've removed the people from the focus. I've been in touch with tna.org, and they've been only some help. After having surgery 6 years ago which only helped some of the pain, mainly the tooth pain, I'm not much better off, and I have to get Botox injections every 3 months. Those are having less and less of an effect, and I'm sure our medical system is looking for more drugs to treat the symptoms. It is a DISGRACE!!! If it weren't for my Guide Dog Zahara, I wouldn't be able to get out throughout the week. I know what you mean about Josh. I met him ten years ago, and I had lost my will to live. He helped me find it back. I even told him he had the "light of God" in him and to never lose it. He is a gift of God to so many people, and I echo your sentiments exactly when it comes to having someone who is so compassionate and kind as he is. I really hope I can meet him again, and I hope you can, too. AsI read what you've been through as a nurse, I can't help but think about how much you've suffered, and how I wish we could connect. I am on Skype, and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. Perhaps we'll be able to look each other up and connect. In the mean time, I'll be lifting you up in prayer, because God heard my prayer a little over ten years ago before I met Josh. I told Him that I couldn't live without meeting Josh, and it was so much like a confession. My hope is that our prayers will both reach God, because it's only right to pray--and dream. Let's stay in touch, because I'm also advocating for infred laser therapy through lasermedcenter in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. The web site is lasermedcenter.com. They have had a lot of success, and some of their treatment is backed up by powerful research done at Harvard Medical School and the University of California at Berkley. I'd have to pay out of pocket, and I'm on a fixed income, and right now, I can't find a advocate or any kind of funding to back me up. So, we're both feeling like we're in the dog house to a certain extent, pun fully intended! I also have perfect pitch, and Josh hhas given me so many more reasons to sing, and it's sometimes all I can do not to just want to give up, but that would be the worst thing I could do. I also know what you mean about the songs he's written, because he did write a song that was loosely based on our conversation when we met. Have you heard "In Her Eyes" from the album "Awake"? What made it so special was that he really validated me, because his grandmother on his Mom's side, Doroothy, was blind for several years before she died. He spent a summer with her, and what he did was so intuitive. Who else would wear a blindfold and sleep shades day and night and learn to use all his other senses like blind people do? The only other people I knew who did were Guide Dogs for the Blind trainers, and they only do this voluntarily now, whereas they had to do this for up to a month when they trained 30 years ago. Josh did it for the summer he spent with Dorothy. How's that for inspiration? Yes, he renewed my will to live and my dream to sing, and I do it every Sunday for the choir at church. So far, I've only missed about a half dozen Sundays in the last 2 years because of the pain. I really hope he reads your post, and I really hope we can connect soon. We've got a lot in common. I'm so glad you shared your story, too, because I'm not alone. Take care, and I hope to hear from you soon. Heather Stubbs (Anna)
      Reply
  2. Barbara l.
    May 13, 2015 at 11:03pm
    Love Stages I play it every day. Great to do yoga mediation to.
    Reply

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