Friday, July 17, 2009

Osmonds: The Next Generation to perform Ogden

Standard-Examiner staff

Singer David Osmond says he's thrilled his family is a big part of Ogden's 75th anniversary celebration of Pioneer Days.

He and his brothers, sons of Alan Osmond, perform at the Ogden Amphitheater on Saturday night.

He is also slated to cut the ribbon at the Treehouse Museum's latest exhibit earlier the same day. He and his brothers will also appear with their uncle Tom and their parents as VIPs at the Pioneer Days parade, and sing the national anthem at the rodeo that evening.

"That's the family's old stomping grounds," said Osmond, speaking from home in Provo. "We are really excited about this -- being able to have my parents as grand marshals of the parade is such an honor, and we'll be right there with them. We can all reminisce and look to our roots, since Ogden is where we came from as a family."

Osmond's uncles and dad were part of one of the most famous sibling singing groups of all time. The elder Osmonds lived in the Ogden area as children.

David Osmond and his brothers are carrying on the musical tradition, with David, like some of his uncles, also working solo and having an acting career outside the group. As a solo artist, he has a new song available on iTunes, "Last Day," with a full album soon to follow.

Alan Osmond's boys (there are no sisters) grew up mainly in Utah, and in Branson, Mo. The four oldest -- David is fourth in line -- started out, as did their father and uncles, as a barbershop quartet.

"We've been performing since we were wee lads -- before I can even remember, quite honestly," said Osmond. "We used to watch those old videos of our dad and uncles, and sing along. My dad saw that interest and taught us what he knew about all that barbershop harmony -- and he knew a lot. We learned the same music, same routines, moves, choreography, as my dad did on 'The Andy Williams Show.' "

The boys had their own rehearsal hall in the basement, and rehearsed three or four hours a day, after the schoolwork was done.

"We lived music constantly," said Osmond. "I am very grateful for the discipline my dad had growing up, and how my grandpa taught him -- he taught us the same way. And that barbershop training -- learning tight harmonies, learning how to listen to each other and to yourself at the same time -- man. There are some skill sets there that definitely help with whatever music you do.

"When we started singing as kids, my dad said, 'Guys, if you are going to do this, you are going to do this right.' My dad and his brothers were incredibly good. They worked hard, and it set the bar very high for us. Big shoes to fill!

"So we worked really hard at it. We still enjoy the style, too -- along with other styles, we'll definitely go into some of those barbershop songs in Ogden."

In the family footsteps

Much like the first generation of Osmonds, who were given their national exposure by Andy Williams, Bob Hope gave the younger generation their break by putting them on his Christmas show in the 1980s, said David Osmond.

"From then on out, we were performing," he said. "We evolved from the barbershop thing into kind of a boy-band group, the Osmond Boys. We used to tour around with The New Kids on the Block. It was really fun."

The brothers also spent a number of years performing various musical styles alongside their uncles in Branson, Mo.

"We learned a tremendous amount, working six days a week, two shows a day, there in Branson. It was a blast to be in one spot, performing as a family, and just do what we loved like that."

David's uncle, Jimmy Osmond, who spoke with the Standard-Examiner earlier this month about the Osmond Brothers' July 11 appearance in Layton, noted how much he appreciated the younger Osmonds' work. He helped the Second Generation finance their first album.

"I am a huge fan of their abilities," Jimmy Osmond said. "They've had a good deal of success, especially so overseas. I always enjoyed working with them, and really wish them well. They are trying to do this in a very different world than when we were young, so it's harder, I think. But they certainly have the talent to do it."

Together and solo

While his brothers mostly pursued other occupations, coming together musically for special occasions like the Ogden show, David Osmond is pursuing show business full time. Like his uncles Donny and Jimmy, he has played Joseph of "Technicolor Dreamcoat" fame numerous times, finishing his most recent run in Pittsburgh last month.

"I had a chance to go back to that realm of performing, and it was so fun," said Osmond. "Long ago, I took over for my Uncle Donny in 'Joseph,' and even got my brothers involved in the show -- they played Joseph's brothers with me on a national tour.

"But my music, my writing, developing my own sound, is my real passion right now," he added.

He is working on an album he hopes to release soon, recording it in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City and Nashville, Tenn.

"I love to write songs, and I really love to collaborate with great songwriters," he said. "That's something Nashville can offer me -- even if you don't do country music, you've got amazing songwriters there. I love those that can interpret thoughts, have them help me get it onto paper, into song. It was really especially important for me to do it on this album. I did not want someone to present a bunch of great songs, because I wanted it to come from inside me, say the message that I am feeling. That way, I can relate even more to what I am singing."

Like it's his last

Four years ago, David was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. His father has fought the autoimmune disease for 21 years.

"But at this point in my life, I feel like my cup is overflowing. We just had a baby nine weeks ago -- and a little girl!" He laughed. "That's a rare thing in our family!

"Along with that, I am doing what I love, what my passion is, for a job. I feel so blessed, because I had to give it up for several years. I know what it feels like to not play guitar because of my hands not working, to not sing, because my diaphragm just wasn't there. I was paralyzed, in a wheelchair. It was terribly hard."

Though Osmond is singing and dancing again, he feels the effects of the disease every day.

"I do a ton of advocacy work for the Race to Erase MS, for the National MS Society -- whatever I can do to bring awareness, and give back. I literally do not take a single step for granted. I feel I live every day to the fullest, and that I hide it pretty well."

He said his new single, "Last Day," is about how he tries to approach life.

"The message of the song is to live each day like it was your last," he said. "It is a powerful message I sure relate to. I think a lot of people live that way, and I hope more will think about doing so. You really never know what's up ahead."


  • WHO: David Osmond and Osmonds Second Generation
  • WHEN: 8 p.m. Saturday
  • WHERE: Ogden Amphitheater, 343 Historic 25th St., Ogden
  • TICKETS: $10-$18, available from Smith's Tix, (800) 888-TIXX

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