BY MELISSA RUGGIERI
The appeal of Josh Groban is vast.
He’s a bright, wickedly funny guy who sings pop-opera. Not exactly the music associated with hipness.
Yet with his boyish handsomeness – recently augmented by a fluff of scruff – and charming self-deprecation, he’s managed to get people who might have otherwise scoffed at blustery ballads such as “You Raise Me Up” and “Believe” to admit that hey, bombast can be great in the right hands. Or voice.
And Groban is certainly a masterful singer as well as song stylist.
He’s sold more than 25 million records worldwide and in April released “Stages,” the album that Grobanites have clamored for because it features the 34-year-old slaying Broadway favorites such “Bring Him Home” from “Les Miserables” and “All I Ask of You,” the soaring centerpiece of “The Phantom of the Opera” that Groban and worthy duet partner Kelly Clarkson turn inside out and upside down.
Squeezing in a lot of chit-chat in a breezy, 15-minute phone call last week from Los Angeles where he was preparing for tour rehearsals, Groban discussed his Broadway-centric “Stages” album that is the backdrop for his tour that launches at Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Saturday, as well as singing celebrity tweets and when we might finally see him on Broadway.
Atlanta is also the city that got me interested in getting my pilot’s license. A couple of summers ago (August 2013) we played outdoors (Chastain Park Amphitheatre) and there were a couple of people from Delta there and they said we have a flight simulator here if you want to come fly our simulator. I literally took my bow, got into the SUV – I didn’t even shower – and went straight to airport and took a tour of the simulators until 6 a.m. I said, ‘How can I continue doing this?’ and I’ve been doing it ever since. I’ve been studying for my license now for 6 months.”
We’re going to fill the stage with a lot of music. It’s going to be a music forward show. We’re going to take some set pieces and lighting that were designed for my TV special (on PBS) that will be coming out soon. I wanted the tour to have a local feel, so aside from me and my guitarist and conductor, the stage will be filled with Atlanta’s finest musicians and choir members. That’s something we’re going to do at every stop with local musicians. It keeps me and the conductor on our feet every night, especially as we change the set list throughout the tour and see how the evening progresses. These songs are so difficult vocally, there’s no autopilot for me.”
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