His latest celebrates the former teen idol’s biggest musical influences 

In the 50 years since Donny Osmond made his debut alongside his brothers on The Andy Williams Show, he’s recorded 60 albums, including his latest, The Soundtrack of My Life. The album features songs that were significant in the 57-year-old performer’s life, from the Beatles’ “The Long and Winding Road” to the Supremes’ “Baby Love.” Stevie Wonder played harmonica on “My Cherie Amour,” and Osmond took a turn on a tune meant for him in 1972. “I was the original choice to sing ‘Ben’ by Michael Jackson,” he says. Meanwhile, Osmond continues to perform with sister Marie in their highly successful Vegas show.

Did any song intimidate you?

All of them! These are the most influential songs of my life and serve as an autobiography, because they helped shape who I am today—which is why I named it The Soundtrack of My Life. You can’t sing these songs like the originals, because then you’re just doing karaoke. But there’s a danger in changing them, too. It was challenging to make them my own.

Which was most challenging? 

“I (Who Have Nothing)” [on the album’s deluxe edition]—because trying to top Tom Jones is a task in and of itself. I was spitting blood after singing that because it was so hard.

How did you land Stevie Wonder? 

I’ve known Stevie for years, but this is the first time I ever called in a favor. After I finished the track, I contacted him. But he doesn’t commit to just anything, so he said, “Send me what you’ve got so far so I can hear it.” The next thing I know my phone rings and it’s his assistant saying Stevie wants to speak with me. My heart stopped. But he said, “I love what you’ve done, send me the masters because I want to be a part of this.” That made me happy, because he’s my musical hero.

Where did you draw inspiration? 

For the most part, I went back to the originals. They’re each magical in their own way—but instead of trying to re-create that magic I wanted to pinpoint what was magical about each particular song. Like, I didn’t use Frank Sinatra’s version of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” because if you read the lyric of that song, it’s very sexy—which is not how Frank approached it. That’s a bold thing to say because he made it his own, but it’s a different song when you go to a smoke-filled jazz club where there’s just a spotlight and a mic. It should be sexy and slow.

Plan to include any in the Vegas show?

I’m going to incorporate some of these Soundtrack songs into the show, since it’s hard for me to tour for this album because of all the shows we do—five days a week. But we’re constantly changing the show because we get tired of doing the same thing over and over. We switch it up often so that when people come back, it’s different every time. We’ve always got to do “Puppy Love” and songs like that, because people want to hear the hits, but then you give them the full spectrum.

Is there one song you’ll always do? 

My 1989 hit “Soldier of Love” is one of the most important songs I’ve ever recorded—because the music industry acknowledged that it was my comeback. I had been written off after my teen idol years. I was told I was a has-been at 21. It took 10 years, but I finally got another hit with that song. It will always be in the show, because it taught me that reinvention is what keeps you going.

–Katy Kroll

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