Los Angeles – They do not make celebrities like Josh Groban anymore.
Grounded. Respectful. Charming. Polite. Friendly.
The guy is so down-to-earth and humble you wouldn’t believe the American singer-songwriter-actor-producer has four solo albums that have been certified multi-platinum, was charted in 2007 as the number one best-selling artist in the U.S., and has sold over 30 million records worldwide.
Josh talked to us at the Warner Bros. recording studio recently where he shared his thoughts and experiences about his last trip to the Philippines 12 years ago, his concert in Manila on Feb. 22 at the Mall of Asia Arena with Lea Salonga, his performances with presidents and royalty in attendance, as well as working with the likes of Andrea Bocelli, Celine Dion, Barbra Streisand among others.
So how does it feel to be coming back to the Philippines after 12 years since his last Manila concert?
“To have the opportunity to come back again is something that I’ve wanted for many years. It’s just now all the stars lined up for it to happen this time around. I owe it to the fans there to give them a show that’s 12 years in the making, to sing songs that are old, to sing new songs, and to sing songs that I haven’t sung anywhere else that will be just special for the Manila fans,” he said.
The one-night-only concert features Josh singing songs with his five-man band, the Ateneo Chamber Singers, and the ABS-CBN Philharmonic Orchestra.
Since this would be a post-Valentine show, what songs, aside from his hits, would he sing, we asked.
“Well, I think any time you’re singing a concert post-Valentines, you want to sing romantic songs for those who had a good Valentine’s, and you want to sing some sad songs for those who had a bad Valentine’s. I’m going to try to get everybody in there. There will be songs like ‘All I Ask Of You’ from Phantom of the Opera, hopefully to do with Lea Salonga, who will be joining us. Then songs like ‘She’s Out Of My Life’ that I have only ever sung in Manila because that was a place that really took to that song. It’ll be a combination of happy songs and sad songs,” he revealed.
This is the first time he is singing with Lea, he admitted.
“I’ve been a fan of hers since I was in high school. I’ve continued to follow her career and been a fan of her voice and her talent for so many years. To be able to invite her on stage and for her to invite me into a community, into a culture in a country that she is such a treasure to the country. She’s been somebody that we’ve all loved very much here in the United States, but I know how adored she is in the Philippines, and rightfully so. I’m so happy to share the stage with her, and I’m sure she’ll sing a little bit on her own, but I’m looking forward to our duets as well,” he disclosed.
It will also be a birthday celebration for both of them.
“On the night of the concert will be Lea’s birthday,” Josh shared. “It’ll be the birthday week. I’m sure some ‘Happy Birthday’s’ will be sung for Lea on that night.”
Going back to the Philippines, what does he look forward to doing in the Philippines?
“Well, I want to hear some music. I want to listen to some of the great singers in the Philippines. I’m hoping to go to some karaoke because I think I will be put to task by the singers at your karaoke bars because you have some of… I was mentioning earlier, I think per household, there are so many talented, undiscovered singers in the Philippines that it’s intimidating when you come from overseas and you’re singing there. You’re thinking probably at least half of my audience can sing better than me. I don’t know, maybe I’ll do karaoke, maybe I’ll be too scared. But I just remember that the food culture in the Philippines is so wonderful. There is such great traditional Filipino food, and there is also such incredible experimentation with those traditional elements for a new style of cuisine, too. I’m such a foodie that when I go back, I like to ask people who are locals what they’re eating and try a little bit of everything.”
Last time he was there, he recalled how he was invited to go to a club and the DJ called up his name. “I couldn’t believe during that time that I was being accepted like Justin Timberlake or Bruno Mars,” he said. “I made friends in media. I just remember having such a great time.”
Finally, he shared his message to his fans: “To all my incredible fans in the Philippines who have been so loving, so supportive and so patient throughout the course of my career, it has been too long since I’ve seen you. So, I want to start this message with an apology for that, but also want to say that it’s such a great privilege and excitement and honor for me to finally come back and do a concert that I’ve been waiting for and hopefully you’ve been waiting for, for many years. I will see you then. And, thank you so much for all these years of love and support. I love you right back.”