"We had a whole new regime coming in at Warner Bros., but fortunately for us, Tom Whalley has put together an incredible team, and they all
get Josh."
——Brian Avnet,
Groban's manager
Foster Discovery Groban Bringing "Popera"
To a Grateful World
When you're a 20-year-old tenor with golden pipes and TV-star looks, you can't be entirely surprised when the ol' filofax starts to fill up—especially when David Foster's got your back.

Josh Groban was only 17 when Foster heard a demo and hired him to sing at Calif. Governor Gray Davis' 1999 inauguration. A month later, Foster had Groban fill in for Andrea Bocelli at rehearsals for the Grammys—and sing with Celine Dion.

Groban was enrolled at Carnegie Mellon, but when Foster—who refers to Groban's vocal style as "Popera"—continued to call with work, the singer dropped out. So far, so good: Groban has scored two knockout appearances on David E. Kelley's Ally McBeal, a record deal and countless appearances, all as a result of Foster gigs.

His eponymous debut on 143/Warner Bros. (the new imprint resulting from Warner's buyout of 143 Records) was released Nov. 20 and has sold over 141k, with weekly sales recently approaching 33k.

Sales have no doubt been spurred by those McBeal turns. After Kelley heard Groban sing, he wrote him into a key role in which he sang "You're Still You" in the show's May 21 season finale. Response was so strong (some 8,000 e-mails), Kelley had him back for  the Dec. 10 episode, in which he sang the Richard Marx-penned single, "To Where You Are."

Then, in a textbook case of corporate synergy, Groban appeared on Larry King Live on Dec. 12, singing "To Where You Are" with Foster accompanying. Warner Bros. parent AOL Time Warner also owns CNN, which airs the King show.

"I think David and I always felt this is how it would go, we just had to get people to believe in it," says manager Brian Avnet of Groban's jammed schedule. "And in our case, we had a whole new regime coming in at Warner Bros., but fortunately for us, Tom Whalley has put together an incredible team, and they all get Josh."

Groban continues to make numerous appearances. "It's just starting, but the picture's gotten very large, because he's breaking now in Asia and Europe," Avnet says. The singer's highest-profile upcoming date will be the Olympic closing ceremonies on Feb.24.

And then there's radio. "As things warm up in a marketing sense, ideally, radio's going to end up playing it," says Warner Bros. Sr. VP Promotion Phil Costello, invoking Enya's recent success. "If we fired it off today, I think it would stumble. But if it's presented at the right moment, when audiences are already hip to it, we'll get the reaction and comfort zone radio will be looking for."

As far as WB senior executive Foster is concerned, Groban can take his time. "I'm with him for the long haul, and so is Warner Bros., because they realize they have a real quality act here," he says. "This album was truly a labor of love—we didn't really think about the radio [aspect]. But then we didn't think about the radio when we did Unforgettable' with Natalie Cole, either."

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An entire Christmas tree made of it. Is what we want. for Christmas.

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