Josh Groban gains new perspective on life, making music after COVID and two-year pandemic hiatus

Mere days before the first show of his 27-city North American run, Josh Groban was stuck in bed, recovering from a recent bout with COVID-19.

“My first rehearsal for this new tour will just happen to coincide with our first concert, which is not the most ideal scenario,” the global superstar told the Sun-Times from the comfort of his Los Angeles-based bedroom. “I’ve luckily done about 1,500 concerts in my life and I sort of remember what those are supposed to feel like.”

The 41-year-old doesn’t seem fazed at all about the direness of his current circumstances, and certainly has no apprehension about putting on his always-dynamic live show on June 25 at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park.

“I think that is one of the silver linings about the last two years,” says the multi-platinum award-winning singer-songwriter. “There just isn’t that much to be stressed about…until there is. I think that if there’s any small lemonade to be made out of the enormous traumatic lemons of the last couple years, it’s perspective.”

And for Groban, that perspective has allowed the four-time Grammy Award-nominated singer of chart-topping hits such as “You Raise Me Up” and “Believe” to develop a whole new relationship with the work he has gifted the world with since first being discovered by uber producer-composer David Foster back in 1997.

“I no longer sweat the small stuff,” says Groban, who still believes he owes “his entire career” to the generosity of Oprah Winfrey, as he was a frequent guest on her long-running Chicago gabfest. “Now, I let myself smell the roses and just let myself enjoy it all, because at the end of the day, nothing else matters.”

He, too, has established a deeper connection with and gratitude for the fans that not only have been with him since the beginning, but the ones who found themselves clinging specifically to his vast catalog of music over the past few years.

“Everyone had a soundtrack that got them through a lot of very serious stuff these last couple years, and some of those soundtracks included some of my music,” says Groban. “So now I see these concerts as a way to together have a cathartic exorcism of sorts from some of those darker moments, you know?And then, we can move on and have a real good time.”

Groban is the first to admit that there were days he had his doubts that he would ever get the chance to not only make, but tour, the music that makes up his 2020 album “Harmony.”

“‘Harmony’ became something I just wanted to release because I just loved it,” Groban remembers of his ninth studio album which includes collaborations with stellar artists such as Leslie Odom Jr., Sara Bareilles and Kirk Franklin.

“We were going to work with musicians all over the world through the power of the internet and technology, and then we are going to be on ‘The Today Show’ from Zoom in the corner of my bedroom, which I hope to never have to do again, as fun as it was to not wear pants on ‘The Today Show.’ [Laughs] I hope to not have to drop an album in the middle of an abyss like that again.”

He draws in a deep breath, and then continues.

“We loved making this record in the middle of a really weird time. But yeah, we thought maybe we would just put it out and then get started on the next project. The fact that we are out here this summer playing this music is something we aren’t taking for granted.

“I’m going to have to remind myself to sing because I haven’t been around people in two years,” Groban continues, with a chuckle. He’ll be joined in Chicago by openers Preservation Hall Jazz Band and singer-songwriter Eleri Ward.

“Just to be in front of people who are listening to me and held captive while I regurgitate Dad jokes that I’ve learned over the last year is going to be cool. [Laughs] I feel sorry for them, but I’m grateful for them.”

So, what’s next for Groban after this tour?

“I was looking up farms today,” he says, laughing. “I want Golden Retrievers and pigs. I guess I just want nothing but a bunch of knucklehead animals to come kiss me at the end of the day. [Laughs] Maybe someday…who knows.”

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