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Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
Donny Osmond sings at RootsTech at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Feb. 14, 2015.
Once I began and I got focused, it was like building a huge jigsaw puzzle. The more you do, the more pieces you put together, the more fun it becomes and this whole picture starts to become a reality. —Donny Osmond

Donny Osmond, a 50-year veteran of the show business industry since making his TV debut at 5 years old, talked at the RootsTech conference Saturday morning about the importance of recording family stories and discovering more about their ancestors.

“The truth is, I’m not an expert like many of you, but that’s what I love about family history — anyone can do it,” Osmond said.

When Osmond was touring with Andrew Lloyd Webber’s “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat” in the mid-1990s, genealogy became one of his favorite hobbies. While he was on the road, away from his family, he became serious about family history using the 40 years of research his mother turned over to him, he said.

“Once I began and I got focused, it was like building a huge jigsaw puzzle,” he said. “The more you do, the more pieces you put together, the more fun it becomes and this whole picture starts to become a reality.”

Technology like the resources on FamilySearch.org has made it easier to collaborate and connect the pieces, he said.

“Like a puzzle, it doesn’t get bigger and bigger, it gets smaller and smaller,” he said. “Sometimes, when you hit that dead end and move to another branch, by the time you revisit that previous branch, someone else has also started researching that same branch and brought that missing piece to the puzzle … which now allows you to continue.”

Doing family history opens genealogists to learning more about not just their ancestors, but also themselves, Osmond said.

“It’s all about stories and realizing that when you discover more about your ancestors, the more you discover about yourself,” he said.

Osmond said that along with having family connections through stories and traditions, scientific studies have proven that traits and attitudes are genetic and give family members an opportunity to discover some of the reasons “we are who we are, we have the looks that we do, the character traits and the attributes that we possess.”

The strength from his “tough, tenacious” predecessors, especially his father, has inspired him throughout his life, he said. His father endured hardships, especially as a teenager, and he “prevailed over it — over so much adversity.”

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“He’s the source of my strength,” he said. “I honor that man. I thank God everyday that I come from his DNA.”

In an interview with the Deseret News, Osmond said he was also able to find connections to ancestors through finding common interests, especially when he visited Wales and the gravesite of his great-great grandfather. Welsh people are known “for their voices,” he said, and a choral group sang to him during his visit.

“It was a special moment, that I’m coming back home and they’re singing to me,” he said.

Email: vromney@deseretnews.com, Twitter: GinnyRomney