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Josh Groban's career "Brides" music, stage, screen
Josh Groban is not quite the king of ALL media. But he's certainly getting there.
The 37-year-old singer has been releasing platinum, or better, albums since 2001, blending his classical training with pop and occasional forays into other genres. That would be enough to establish his star, but Groban has branched out into movies ("Crazy, Stupid Love") and TV ("Alley McBeal," "The Office" and a co-starring role in Netflix's new "The Good Cop."
And in 2016 he made his Broadway debut as Pierre Bezukhov in "Natasha, Pierre & the Great Comet of 1812," earning a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in a Musical and a co-hosting spot for this year's 72nd Annual Tony Awards.
Speaking by phone from his home in Los Angeles — "a little staycation before the insanity" of his latest album release and world tour — Groban says he piles on the work by habit. "I am just a mental masochist," he explains. "I don't do well with time off. Once I take it I'm really happy I did, but it's just my instinct to always be working and find something that terrifies me again."
Groban's latest projects — his eighth studio album, "Bridges," and the tour accompanying it — are actually more in his comfort zone, however. "It's in many ways a breath of fresh air and kind of an escape," Groban says of the 12-song set (nine of which he co-wrote), which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 2000 after its Sept. 21 release. "It was kind of like a vacation to me. I was coming off eight shows a week, almost 300 performance of the same show. It was a brilliant show, one of my favorite experiences.
"And I had so much to say after that, so many things I wanted to explore on my own terms. Every ('Natasha') cast member had their own band and their own writing style and played their own instruments. Being in a cast of these musical wunderkinds you couldn't help but be inspired every day. Coming off that it felt like diving into (a new album) was the right thing to do."
Some of "Bridges" was born in Groban's Broadway dressing room, during off hours when he'd play piano and fill his phone "with hundreds of snippets and hooks and chorus ideas, lyric ideas." The track "River," meanwhile, was written as Groban was walking toward the Hudson River, "just singing into my phone on a street in Tribeca."
"Every ounce of making 'Bridges' came from a real lightning-bolty jolt of energy, and that's rare," says Groban, who collaborated on the album with hitmakers such as Steve Jordan, Toby Gad and Dann Huff. He covers songs such as Simon & Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water" and Snow Patrol's "Run," as a duet with Sarah McLachlan, and the album features guest appearances by Sugarland's Jennifer Nettles, Andrea Bocelli and Vicente Amigo. "It was fun, really fun to tap into that positive light that comes through."
"The Good Cop," meanwhile, came along to give Groban his first starring opportunity, playing the more straight-laced police detective son of Tony Danza's grizzled, cynical and disgraced ex-cop who hasn't quite lost his appetite for The Job.
"There's a part of me that was like, 'OK, what's the catch?'" Groban says. "I met Tony and our energy together from the first dinner was really something very special, and it was great from there on." The nine-episode inaugural season is getting good reviews, and Groban says he'll be happy if another is in the offing.
"Like anything that's come my way in my career, it's not the thing I've seen in the distance or really fought tooth and nail to get to. The best decisions I've ever made in my career were the unexpected doors that opened, the fork in the road I wasn't expecting — someone believing in me and, 'OK, I'm gonna do this. ...' I hope they keep coming like that."
Josh Groban and Idina Menzel perform at 8 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit. Tickets start at $35. 313-471-7000 or visit 313Presents.com.
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