PARK CITY, Utah. - U2, Patti Smith, 50 Cent, John Legend and Josh Groban are contributing to the soundtrack of this year's Sundance Film Festival.
Yes, Josh Groban - he of fresh face, lyrical baritone, and last year's best-selling album, the holiday-themed "Noel."
Sundance, the annual orgy of independent cinema, which runs through Jan. 27, usually attracts alt-rock and acoustic up-and-comers, and edgier pop stars. You'd be hard-pressed to find a name familiar to Middle American moms.
But they sure know Groban, 26, the best-selling artist of 2007, who is set to perform both an intimate acoustic show and a big-ticket charity fundraiser here later this week.
The Associated Press caught up with the singer last weekend in Los Angeles, after he taped a guest appearance on the CBS special "Celine Dion: That's Just the Woman in Me," which is scheduled to air Feb. 15.
AP: So, Sundance.
Groban: What am I doing there? People know that I do big. You know that I can go off, I just did 10-month arena tour, a big extravaganza: big orchestra, huge ordeal. I so love the idea of going into a room with a hundred people and just myself on a piano and a guitar and bass, and just kind of breaking down some of these gorgeous melodies. ... I think it's an important night. It's an important time for music and film, and this whole acoustic thing is going to be about music and film. I have been fortunate enough to have been a part of a couple different films, so you know, I think, it's for me I am just going to have a good time.
AP: Speaking of movie music, you perform "The Prayer" (from 1998's "The Quest for Camelot") with Celine on "The Woman in Me." Isn't singing with Celine essentially how you got your start 10 years ago, filling in last minute when Andrea Bocelli couldn't make it to L.A.?
Groban: That kind of was my first-year relationship with (producer) David (Foster): "Here, kid. Let's see what you can do." You know, just throwing me into ridiculous situations where I had to fight hard not to lose it, not to lose it altogether. But that time period, and certainly that day, was a great learning experience for me and really laid the foundation for what I have been able to achieve after that. And so it was a complete full circle to see David in the audience tonight and to be able to share the song with her on stage after all these years. I would have never expected we would be talking about it on her CBS special. It's really incredible.
AP: So was 2007. You were the top-selling artist. And "Noel" was the top-selling CD of the year, and is now the longest-running chart-topping Christmas album, breaking Elvis Presley's record of four weeks.
Groban: I really feel bad about that. But he (Presley) has got me beat in so many other areas that I'll take it, I'll take it. Thanks, Elvis. No, but it was an enormous record to beat. And being an enormous Elvis buff, it was, like, an incredible thing to get the Google alert from, and so it's great. We made the CD very quickly when I was on my European tour: just a simple, beautiful CD with a great orchestra. The fans have been wanting this for a while. So we just decided to do it as a gift for the fans and it kind of became this big thing, so I am just very thankful for it.
AP: Logical segue from Christmas music to the snow in Park City. Is the Southern California boy ready?
Groban: Of course I am. We don't have seasons here. Anytime I get to find snow, it's an adventure, you know. Then I get there, and everybody who lives there is like, "Are you crazy?" But I love the snow. I am half-Norwegian and half-Russian, so, you know, it doesn't get any paler then that. So I am excited about getting out there and tasting the elements.