Canadian crooner Michael Bublé (pronounced "booblay") has taken the old and made it new again. He combines pop standards from decades past with a smidgen of original tunes for a mix that has brought him international acclaim. His fans adore him, to the point of swooning like school-aged girls. Since 2003, he's made a quick trip up the ladder of success with bestselling albums like 2005's It's Time and 2008's Call Me Irresponsible. His sincere reinterpretations of a range of classic songs along with his good looks and onstage charisma seem certain to guarantee him a long and prosperous career. Jillian Cohan of the Wichita Eagle called him a "showman," stating, "It's an old-fashioned word, not often applied to today's pop artists. Michael Bublé, however, is a showman both old-fashioned and cuttingly contemporary."
Considering his upbringing, it seems somewhat of a fluke that Bublé has risen to the stardom he enjoys today. Born Michael Steven Bublé on September 9, 1975, in Burnaby, British Columbia, Bublé came from a working-class family. His parents fished the nearby ocean, often gone for days. He was left in the care of his grandfather, who was a plumber. When Bublé describes his childhood he has nothing but positive things to say. Tom Henry of the Blade related Bublé's take on his early life, "Rather than talking about life's struggles, he emphasizes the wholesome, unconditional love and close-knit middle-class family that surrounded him when he grew up."
Growing up in the late 1970s, Bublé could have been influenced by disco or arena rock or even punk rock. Instead his grandfather pulled out his old records and introduced Bublé to 1940s to 1960s era singers like Frank Sinatra, Ray Charles, Bobby Darin, and Elvis Presley. By the time he reached his teens, Bublé was showing considerable talent as a singer. He decided he wanted to perform. Lucky for Bublé he did not have to strike out on his own, at least not at first. In the beginning, his grandfather helped. Armed with his plumbing tools, Bublé's grandfather would offer his skills to local performance venues in exchange for time on stage for Bublé.
At age 17, Bublé felt confident enough that he moved east to Toronto. Driven, Bublé took any work that was offered. He explained to David Hiltbrand of the Philadelphia Inquirer, "I worked every bar, club, cruise ship and shopping mall." In 1996, he entered the Canadian Youth Talent Contest. He also took on acting roles, including a small part in an episode of the television series X Files as well as a bit part in the karaoke film starring Gwyneth Paltrow called Duets.
Putting himself out there in any way possible helped Bublé refine his onstage presence while also making him available to many opportunities. In 2000, he was invited to perform at the wedding of the Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's daughter. Bublé's lucky break would come when he was introduced to producer David Foster, a guest at the wedding, known for his work with performers such as popular music singers Celine Dion and Whitney Houston.
Broke in Big
Foster brought Bublé to Warner Brothers where they began working on his first self-titled album. In those beginnings stages, Bublé was asked to exchange his given name for his mother's maiden name, Fantaga. Bublé held out against the change, asking Warner Brothers if the switch could guarantee record sales. The recording company couldn't guarantee it so Bublé refused to change his name. The album Michael Bublé was released in 2003. It's a collection of covers ranging from classic-era pop standards like "Come Fly with Me" to more recent hits like British rock band Queen's 1980s hit "Crazy Little Thing Called Love."
Luck and timing and talent all came together because with very little airplay Bublé's first album sold more than 250,000 copies in the United States alone. The debut also found popularity around the world, including South Africa, New Zealand, the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore. Matthew Connors described Bublé in an article for the Australian, "He is indeed velvet-voiced, displaying rich, warm tones, immense clarity and near perfect pitch." His appearance on the music scene was not only rewarded with praise from critics and listeners but also by the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with the Juno Award for best new talent.
By 2005, Bublé had released two live performance DVD/CD combos as well as his second album, It's Time. Once again he managed to woo listeners the world over, hitting the top of the charts in Canada, Australia, Japan, and Italy. In fact, the album went platinum (sold over a million copies) five times in Canada. In the United States and England It's Time made it to the top ten on their charts. It's Time also earned more awards for Bublé, including album of the year, pop album of the year, and artist of the year from the Juno Awards.
Bublé's live performances are one of the main attractions to his fans. His sporty good looks combined with his charisma help create memorable experiences for concertgoers. He is well known for his onstage banter, his generosity toward fans, and a style that pays real tribute to the singers whose songs he reinterprets. One example of his onstage showmanship would have surely tested the sturdiest of performers. At a concert in Fresno in 2006, the air conditioning failed. Bublé continued the rest of his show wearing his stylish jacket but urged his orchestra to remove theirs. He's also been known to step down into the audience to give hugs and kisses and sign autographs. Thor Christensen described his performance in the Dallas Morning News, "[H]e's one of the most likable performers on earth. The music is almost an afterthought."
For the Record …
Born on September 9, 1975, in Burnaby, British Columbia, to a family of fishermen.
Began performing clubs, hotels, weddings, early 1990s; competed in Canadian Youth Talent Contest, 1996; performed stage show, Forever Swing, 1999; introduced to veteran producer David Foster while performing at Prime Minister Brian Mulroney's daughter's wedding, 2000; released Michael Bublé, 2003; released live album, Come Fly with Me, 2004; released live album, Caught in the Act, 2005; released It's Time, 2005; released Call Me Irresponsible, 2007.
Awards: Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (CARAS), Juno Award, Best New Artist, 2004; World Music Award, World's Best Selling Artist/Canada, 2005; ECHO Award (Germany), National/International Jazz Production of the Year, 2006; CARAS, Juno Award for Pop Album of the Year, Single of the Year, Album of the Year, Artist of the Year, 2006; National Jazz Award, Male Vocalist of the Year, 2007; Canadian Smooth Jazz Awards, Best Male Vocalist and Best Original Composition for "Everything," 2008; Grammy Award, Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, 2008; CARAS, Juno Fan Choice Award, 2008.
Addresses: Record company—Reprise Records, c/o Warner Bros. Records Inc., 3300 Warner Blvd., Burbank, CA 91505.Web site—Michael Bublé Official Web site: http://www.michaelbuble.com.
In 2007, Bublé released Call Me Irresponsible, which maintained the same momentum of popularity and sales that It's Time had established, going multiplatinum as well. By the end of 2007, the album had sold 13 million copies. Bublé discussed the inclusion of live tracks on the album with Paul de Barros of the Seattle Times: "I afforded myself the opportunity to take a risk and sing live." He explained how he believed the live recordings created "a little more continuity. … Maybe not as slick. … And you can really get into the lyric."
Once again, Bublé's efforts were recognized with awards, including a Grammy Award for best traditional pop vocal album. He also received a National Jazz Award and a Canadian Smooth Jazz Award, the latter for his original composition "Everything" that appeared on the album. His other original work, "Lost," made it to number six on Billboard's adult contemporary charts. While his work writing his own songs has been rewarded, Bublé doubts he'll take any major steps toward all original content. He explained to Ashante Infantry of the Toronto Star, "I don't know if I'm ever going to do the all original thing. I love reinterpreting these great standards. There's a reason why some of these songs are 90 years old and people still know them: they talk about things that are always going to be relevant: love and loneliness and betrayal."
In a short amount of time, Bublé etched a place into the hearts of million of fans around the world. His respect for the old standards, a fresh and loving approach to interpreting them, and his generosity while performing them continue to earn him even more admirers. He explained his attraction to the music that has made him a star to Jeannie Williams of USA Today, "The love and passion I have for singing this music. Since I was a kid, it's had a special place—it's the soundtrack to my life."
Michael Bublé, Reprise Records, 2003.
Come Fly with Me, Reprise Records, 2004.
Caught in the Act, Reprise Records, 2005.
It's Time, Reprise Records, 2005.
Call Me Irresponsible, Reprise Records, 2007.
Australian, April 12, 2004, p. 8.
Blade (Toledo, OH), June 25, 2006, p. G1.
Dallas Morning News, March 3, 2008.
Philadelphia Inquirer, September 26, 2003, p. 1.
Seattle Times, August 24, 2007, p. H6.
Toronto Star, April 29, 2007, p. C05.
USA Today, February 14, 2003, p. 11D.
Wichita Eagle (Wichita, KS), July 15, 2006.