As old Hollywood lore has it - OK, he's not old enough for it to be old lore, but it sounds good, so leave me alone - Josh Groban was introduced to producer David Foster when he was 17, and Foster was impressed. Within a year, Foster started creating a bit of a buzz about the boy, using him as a stand-in for Andreas Bocelli for the 1999 Grammy Awards rehearsals, and singing a song on young British phenomenon Charlotte Church, and singing For Always on the soundtrack to the movie AI: Artificial Intelligence. By 2001 there was much chatter about the young man, but few in the US had really heard what he had to offer. Enter David E. Kelley, the writer/director/producer of hit television shows, including the hot Ally McBeal, starring Calista Flockhart. Kelley wrote a role specifically for the young Groban, a gangly and ungainly high school senior going to his prom with his lawyer. And much like the storyline predicted, once Josh started singing, the audience stood up and took notice. Here he sings You're Still You, which would later be included on his first album. A nod must be made to KC of KC & the Sunshine Band, who played during the scene building up to Josh's song.
That appearance was so successful - reportedly the network received thousands of emails requesting Groban's return, and Kelley was eager to do just that. The character returned to sing at a memorial service, choosing to sing another song from the debut album, To Where You Are.
Within six months, Foster had the debut on the streets, with the thought of the performance still fresh in the minds of people across the nation. And while he got little play on pop radio, the music did make it to adult contemporary stations, landing two songs in the Top 10 on the AC chart. That album went on to sell over 5 million copies, in part due to the successful appearance on shows like Ally McBeal, Oprah Winfrey, and a PBS Special. He went on to have two more studio albums, together selling almost 14 million copies in the US alone. Those numbers, together with a Christmas album that sold over 2 million, and a few DVDs of live performances, has assured Groban's place as an incredibly successful performer. Most recently, he released a DVD of a PBS Soundstage concert, and as well as the obvious maturity the 10 years have made in his looks, there is also growth in the voice, which was pretty damn amazing to start with. Here he performs the title cut from his third studio album, Awake.
These clips show the progression from a thin and lanky 18-year-old to an assured and handsome 28-year-old. I remember seeing him on that PBS Special, and immediately running out and buying the CD and DVD. And I have been a fan ever since. For more on Josh, check out his official website here.