Michael Bublé has established himself as the modern day King of Swing. His soulful appeal compares to the way Sinatra introduced jazz to many a household for the first time and his passion for everything jazztastic translates not only into huge record sales, but also brings him a wealth of admirers internationally.
Michael Bublé was born on 9th September 1975 in British Columbia, Canada to Lewis, a fisherman and mother Amber. As his father was often away at sea fishing to support his family, the task of bringing Bublé and his younger sisters up was left to his mother and grandfather. In fact, it was Granddad Bublé who was to shape the future career of his young grandson.
“My grandfather was really my best friend growing up,” Bublé has commented. “He was the one who opened me up to a whole world of music that seemed to have been passed over by my generation.”
Bublé’s grandfather’s huge collection of records was the foundation of his passion for classic jazz and soul music, thanks to famed artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Stevie Wonder and Frank Sinatra, whose works were the music of choice throughout the household when growing up. It wasn’t long before Bublé decided that he too wanted to follow in their famous singing footsteps, explaining, “I wanted to be a singer and I knew that this was the music that I wanted to sing.”
With the encouragement of his grandfather, he entered a local talent contest (despite being a year younger than the official entry age of 18) and won. When the organiser Beverly Delich later discovered that Bublé was only 17 she disqualified him, but was so impressed by his talents that she suggested he enter the British Columbia Youth Talent Search instead.
In the meantime, his grandfather had been putting the word out locally that he would offer his services as a plumber for free in return for his grandson being given the chance to work with local musicians on stage. Soon Bublé was a regular at the town’s music haunts and the town had the best working toilets in history!
In 1996 he landed a role as Elvis in the Vancouver run of the musical ‘Red Rock Diner’ where he soon caught the eye of Debbie Timuss, a dancer and singer who taught him the dance routines to the revue. Two years later the pair became an item and moved to Toronto in the cast of another musical revue, this time a big band effort called ‘Forever Swing’ (1998).
Having learnt all his grandfather’s favourite tunes and as a tribute to his continuing support, Bublé entered the British Columbia competition and won – which immediately prompted Delich (spying a fortune in the making) to help him record his first independent CD. Aged only 17, Bublé was certainly heading in the right direction to becoming a success.
With small-time recognition already in the bag in his hometown, the real breakthrough for Bublé’s career came when he was spotted by a former associate of the Canadian Prime Minister, Michael McSweeney, while performing at a business party. McSweeney was so impressed with his performance that he began circulating the newly made independent album, which soon fell into the hands of Prime Minister Brian Mulrooney and his wife. Perhaps spotting an opportunity for some cheap entertainment, the couple invited Bublé to sing at their daughter’s wedding in 2000 where he wowed the bride and her guests with a rendition of Kurt Weill’s ‘Mack The Knife’. High profile weddings attract high profile names and Bublé had the good fortune to be introduced to multi-Grammy award winning producer and Warner Bros. Records label executive, David Foster.
Foster knew immediately that he had come face to face with a winning formula. Upon discovering more about Bublé’s trademark voice, good looks and musical know-how, he signed Bublé to his 143 Records in 2001 where the two began work on his first major-label release. “The last thing we wanted to do was a tribute album or a lounge act”, says Bublé. “We wanted to treat this music with the love and respect it deserves, but the important thing was to capture a spirit and energy and that wasn’t confined to any particular musical era.”
In 2003, Bublé’s self-titled first major album was released and it was a huge success worldwide – eventually going multi-platinum in many countries and reaching the top ten in the UK, his homeland Canada, and hitting number one in Australia. The debut album incorporated Bublé’s multi-faceted talents, especially his aptitude for lending a pop style to old classics such as ‘Fever’, ‘Moondance’ and ‘How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?’. A world tour duly followed and 2003 was rounded off with a special release of Christmas tunes ‘Let It Snow’.
Aged 28, Bublé had officially arrived on the international music scene. He won the New Artist of the Year category at the Juno Awards in 2004 (the Canadian equivalent of the Grammys) and was narrowly pipped to the post for Album of the Year.
His third album release ‘It’s Time’ in 2005 topped the success of his debut with even more astounding record statistics, selling over five million copies worldwide and remaining on the Billboard Jazz charts for a staggering two years. The single that rung out most in the fans’ ears was ‘Home’, specially penned by Bublé for his long-term love Debbie, who featured in the video and who added her backing vocals. The song shot to the number one spot in more than 10 countries worldwide and had the distinction of being the most-played song on Canadian radio that year, with an estimated 382 million people tuning in to sing along.
Success comes at a price though, and Bublé may have later wished that he hadn’t so publicly dedicated ‘Home’ to fiancée Debbie as the couple eventually parted ways at the end of 2005. Thankfully, musicians are notoriously inspired by events in their life, good or bad, and their split led Bublé to write another song indirectly linked to her (‘Lost’), which featured on the album ‘Call Me Irresponsible’ (2007). Gossip hounds salivated when news soon spread that Bublé’s split with Timuss coincided with the emergence of a new relationship – with British actress Emily Blunt. The pair had met backstage at an awards ceremony and Bublé apparently confessed later that he had no idea who she was and had thought she was a TV producer.
The third studio album release was always going to be a tough battle against the success of his two previous studio releases. “I was terrified because I knew that it had to be better than the first two, that it had to show growth without alienating anyone, and that’s a tough line. I wanted to be involved in every aspect because I wanted it to be conceptually beautiful.”
‘Call Me Irresponsible’ was released in 2007 and Bublé’s fears proved unfounded as both critics and fans leapt to sing his praises. The album debuted at number 3 in the Canadian charts.
Retreading his previous moves, Bublé did what he does best and wrote the ballad ‘Everything’ for Blunt; in another deja vu moment, she also lent backing vocals to one of the album’s tracks. Perhaps Bublé should rethink his tactics as a boyfriend though, as it was announced in July 2008 that he and Blunt had also parted ways.
Thanks to the efforts of his grandfather when Bublé was just a small tot, he has achieved in a relatively short time what many musicians struggle to find in decades. His success has continued to grow with every new studio release and it isn’t hard to imagine him selling out tours and topping the record charts for a very long time to come.