The Osmonds' Good Life
by Deborah Evans Price
June 17, 2011
Faith and family have always been cornerstones in the lives of Donny and Marie Osmond and after more than four decades in the spotlight, the siblings continue to lead fast-paced lives yet remain as grounded as ever.
“Being a woman in the entertainment business, I’m an exception not a rule,” Marie says of her longevity. “I’ve been working for 48 years, which is amazing since I’m 29. Every day I get up, I’m grateful to go to work. I feel fantastic. ...My life is happy, and I’m very grateful everyday, so grateful.”
In a business where careers usually come and go quickly, Donny and Marie continue to thrive. In addition to their new duet album, Donny & Marie, which debuted at No. 7 on the country chart last month, Donny is working on his 60th album (and he’s only 53), and Marie released an inspirational album last year titled I Can Do This.
Donny & Marie, released on New York-based MPCA Records, is the siblings’ first album together in 30 years. To support the project, they have made recent appearances on “Good Morning America,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” and “The View,” and have also been signing autographs and greeting fans at various Wal-Marts across the country.
As if all that weren’t enough, they also have a steady gig, performing five nights a week at the legendary Flamingo Hotel in Las Vegas. Backstage at the Flamingo, the duo chat with fans after their show, a highly entertaining experience that gives audiences a brief taste of new music. The show is also a nostalgic journey complete with video clips that trace their early careers from Donny’s days with his brothers and Marie’s solo country hits to their popular ’70s television series, Broadway shows and all facets of their lengthy careers.
“Marie and I were basically told that we were spending too much money,” Donny tells gmc of the show they launched at the Flamingo. “When we decided to do this thing back in 2008 we said, ‘if we are going to do this, we have to do it right.”
The time and money invested paid off and what was supposed to be a six-week engagement turned into one of the most popular shows in Vegas. The Osmonds are booked at the Flamingo through 2012. Marie and her family live in Vegas, while Donny maintains his home in Provo, Utah.
Why did the duo choose to record a country album? “Marie twisted my arm,” Donny says with a laugh. “We did all the live vocals in my dressing room at the Flamingo. I have a vocal booth. That’s where I do my radio show, so it was a perfect set up. Marie has a set up at her house and that’s the only way we could do it because of the amount of work we do here in Las Vegas. We couldn’t go to Nashville to a regular recording studio.”
Donny & Marie was produced by Kenny Chesney’s producer, Buddy Cannon, and includes songs written by including Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, Gavin DeGraw, Carole King, Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds, Richard Marx and such country writers as Susan Longacre, Walt Aldridge, Gary Baker and Frank Myers. Gary and Frank penned "I Swear," which was a country hit for John Michael Montgomery and pop/R&B hit for Boyz II Men.
“Frank and Gary wrote that song out on tour,” says Marie. “They used to be my bass and guitar player in my band. That’s why ‘I Swear’ is on the album. They wrote that on tour with me.”
Inspiration & Heartbreak
Marie enjoyed returning to country music, the genre where she achieved her first No. 1 hit, “Paper Roses,” when she was just 13, but a project that’s especially close to her heart is I Can Do This. It’s Marie’s first inspirational project and includes “I Can Only Imagine” (MercyMe), “Pie Jesu” and “I Need Thee Every Hour.” “It’s very eclectic from ‘How Great Thou Art’ to a song called ‘The Only One.’ It was actually written by Gary Baker’s son, Shane, and it’s probably the most beautiful song; a praise to God. It’s like a benediction to the album.”
Marie is one of the founders of the Children’s Miracle Network, which raises funds for children’s hospitals. She’s donating 100 percent of the proceeds from I Can Do This to Children’s Miracle Network on behalf of her son Michael, who was attending college in Los Angeles when he committed suicide February 26, 2010.
“I did it for my son,” she says of the poignant album. “I know that even through the trials of life and everything we go through that it’s only through my belief in God that I will see my son again, and through Jesus Christ those things will happen, so it’s the only way you can get through something like that. I don’t know how people get through things if they don’t have the love of God. God will see us through if we put our faith in Him.”
Even with her faith to sustain her, Marie admits losing a child is something a parent never gets over, but learns to live with. “When my heart can’t handle anymore, somehow it’s lifted,” she says of God’s comfort. She recorded the album in hopes it would bless others going through challenging times. “I hope people who are struggling will listen to it and it will lift their heart. It was a labor of love, ...pure love.”
Though they tease each other mercilessly on stage and in interviews, it’s obvious the siblings have a close bond. Donny is proud of his sister and the strength she displayed in the wake of last year’s tragedy. “I don’t know how I could have handled it,” he says quietly. “It’s such a hole in your life that cannot be filled. You hold onto your faith and hope that God will make it better some day. She depended on me, but she had a lot of people around her to help her through those dark years, and I’m sure they continue to be dark, but there’s a little ray of hope that she holds onto, that we all hold onto. We have to. There’s got to be hope otherwise we’re defeated.”
The Good Life
On May 4 – which was her son Michael’s birthday as well her late mother’s – Marie remarried her first husband Stephen Craig, wearing the same dress she wore to their first wedding in 1982. The two had one son before divorcing. She married her second husband, Brian Blosil, in 1986 and they divorced in 2007. She has eight children, ranging in age from eight to 28.
Marie says in remarrying Stephen, her life has “come full circle” and it was a blessing she wasn’t expecting. “I love it! I never thought I would be married again,” she says candidly. “I really felt like I was going to get my kids raised and maybe down the road 100 years, I’d fall in love again. I have eight children, and every mother will tell you that their priority is their kids are raised healthy and get them educated... We started dating a couple of years ago and just kept it very, very quiet and didn’t want anybody to know because if it didn’t work out, the kids wouldn’t be hurt, especially our son together. I just fell madly in love. He was my first love and my last.”
She wants to encourage other women not to give up on love. “The most important thing [for] women out there who think it will never happen again – because I was one of them – trust God and just leave yourself open.”
But she cautions women to be secure in their identity and not to look to a spouse to complete them. “You marry at the level of your self-esteem. Make sure you are good with who you are. The only person you can fix in life is you. Make sure you are in good places and when you are in good places, good things happen.”
“It is nice to see my sister happy again,” says Donny. “She’s been through so much. I’m just very happy about it.”
Donny and his wife, Debbie, have been married 33 years and have five sons. What first attracted him to his wife? “It was because she didn’t want me and I had to chase her,” he says with a laugh, “so for 33 years I’m still chasing her around the house every day.”
Unlike some child stars who lead turbulent and sometimes tragic lives, Donny says his faith has helped keep him from the pitfalls of fame. “It is the foundation,” he says. “God has touched my life to keep me stable, especially in a world that can be so fake because when it gets right down to it, show business is smoke and mirrors. It helped keep me humble and grateful for the success because it’s all God-given. One of the things that affected me as a young kid was the humility of Elvis Presley. He was a very religious person. In fact, he would call my mom all the time and talk about religion and family. He wanted to be a preacher, but his music career took off.”
Donny and Marie’s current single playing on country radio stations is titled “The Good Life” and the siblings say it’s appropriate. “Marie and I are definitely now living the good life,” Donny says. “Six years is an amazingly long career now-a-days, let alone 48 years. So we are loving this wave we’re riding. It definitely is the good life!”