His autobiography is titled Life Is Just What You Make It, and according to Donny Osmond, the title couldn’t be more appropriate.
“Especially as I look back,” said Osmond, 53, former teen idol and the most recognizable Osmond brother, who is set to perform Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Music Box at the Borgata in Atlantic City.
“I see a lot of artists who become self-defeated if they fail at something,” he said. “Often, they don’t know what to do if their careers falter. They rest on past laurels. But you’ve got to look forward, and the only way to do that is pick yourself up, lick your wounds and keep on going. I think you’ll find those wounds become assets eventually.”
And Osmond should know. In the business since he was 5, Osmond sold more than 80 million records over five decades and has received 33 gold records, 18 of them before the age of 13. But in 1982, he said, he experienced the worst failure in his life
“I opened and closed on Broadway in one night, in a show called Little Johnny Jones,” Osmond recalled.
“That failure marked the bottom of my career but it also helped make me what I am today because I was able to look back and say that’s the moment I realized I was not working to my true potential. That’s the moment I knew I had to reinvent myself and not rest on past laurels, and I began the climb up the ladder to some amazing successes.”
Helping in that climb was English rocker Peter Gabriel. Under Gabriel’s tutelage, a rugged, edgier Osmond emerged from near obscurity with the hit Soldier of Love. That single went to the top of the Billboard charts and garnered Osmond Billboard magazine’s “Top Pop Male Artist of the Year.” The former teenybopper continued to prove his versatility with hits like My Love is a Fire and Sacred Emotion.
He also went on to redeem himself with what he said was one of his greatest achievements. In the early ’90s, Osmond played the title role in the North American production of Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice’s musical Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Osmond finally retired his color coat after more than 2,000 performances.
Today, the man of many talents — singer, actor, talk-show host, game-show host and winner of Dancing With the Stars in 2009 — said he’s enjoying every facet of his career.
The seventh of nine children — eight boys and one girl named Marie — Osmond performs at the Las Vegas Flamingo Hotel with his sister, and has taken time off to do this show at the Borgata and a few others venues as well. Titled Basically Yours, Osmond explained that the show is unlike any that he’s done before.
“It’s a very limited tour where I bring just three musicians with me, so it’s just the four of us up on stage and a big computer screen behind us,” he said. “I’ll be having a Q&A with the audience, and, for the most part, the answer I give will come up on the screen.”
For example, he continued, “If they ask me what my favorite dance is, BOOM — it’ll show them the answer with me dancing up on the screen. If they ask whether I remember working with Lucille Ball, BOOM — it’ll show the two of us right there on the screen. Since this is the first show of its kind for me, it’s a little scary, but very exciting.”
Osmond especially enjoys being in front of an audience. “I do enjoy radio, television, recording, making movies. But until you get out in front of a live audience, you never really put your talent to the test.” ••
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