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Josh performs "You Raise Me Up," one of the songs from his CLOSER CD.
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Josh Groban singing "Alla Luce del Sole"
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"They came up with that name on their own," explains the singer. "I was lurking around the message boards when they were starting to come up with the 'What should we call ourselves?' posts, and I thought, you know what, best to stay out of this one and let them just come up with it. I suppose I could have posted anonymously, and said, 'Hey, why don't we call ourselves Josh-heads,' but 'Grobanite' has just such a ring to it; I think they knew better than I did. It sounds catchier and has more, well, gravity. They crowned me the king of Grobania, which is really wonderful. It adds some fun to the whole thing, as long as the music can be taken seriously."

Because despite all the accolades, awards, record sales, and sold-out tours, it's really all about the music for him. An accomplished pianist and drummer, Groban constantly worries that he might actually be in the wrong line of work -- despite the fact that he's been plotting a career in music since he was in the seventh grade. "I was in a vocal music class and the teacher asked if anyone could scat. I raised my hand and said I could -- my dad used do it all the time, and I've always been good at repeat[ing] anything I've heard -- [and] after I was finished the teacher said to me, 'Wow, you've got a pretty good voice.'"

"Pretty good" barely covers it, but Groban shies away from any compliments, although he does have a quiet, unassuming air of confidence in his abilities -- even though his voice is not what you expect from an average 23-year-old. "I like Stephen Sondheim, but I also have listened to everything from Depeche Mode to Guns N' Roses. But in terms of what I wanted to express -- that's just something different. When I wake up in the morning, my voice isn't like Axl Rose's voice. It's something much different."

Referred to as "The Prince of Highbrow Pop," Groban seems remarkably well adjusted to the kind of singing he excels in, despite complaints that it's rather a fogeyish style for someone so young.

"I think that there is some discrimination because of the type of singing that I do, but I think that the biggest misconception is that because of the kind of music that I sing or because of the kind of voice that I have, I'm boring or the music isn't exciting," he says, letting the idea just hang in space before continuing. "Sometimes I take my voice for granted, but I have to kind of own up to the gift, and I have to own up to the responsibility that I have. And a lot of times I don't trust it enough. I doubt it sometimes. I'm the most critical person about my voice. No critic could possibly be as harsh on me as I am to myself, and so there are times when I need to build my own confidence to do what I know I can do. But then, sometimes I just don't know I can do it."

But he can, and continues to prove it, astutely positioning himself as the American alternative to the Bocelli-Watson axis while continuing to push the boundaries of his voice -- even covering a song by alt-metal chart toppers Linkin Park, and performing three songs he wrote himself, on CLOSER. But when he's really in a funk, what's his surefire antidote? "I'll take my CD off the player, and put Led Zeppelin on. That always seems to cheer me up."

Top banner photos: Scenes from Josh Groban in concert.

Lucia Micarelli

Violinist Lucia Micarelli is the featured soloist for "Mi Mancherai" and "You Raise Me Up."

Josh Groban

Groban co-wrote "Remember When It Rained" and "Never Let Go" on CLOSER.

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