'He still feels like Michael from Vancouver': Junos tap 'guy next door' Bublé as 2018 host

Michael Bublé will return to the Junos stage to emcee the annual celebration on his home turf in Vancouver next March, the first time the awards will air on CBC in 16 years.

Crooner gradually returning to spotlight after time off with his family

Michael Bublé speaks on Tuesday about being named host of the 2018 Juno Awards on his home turf of Vancouver next March, the first time the awards will air on CBC in 16 years. (CBC)

After the curtain fell on the 2016 Juno Awards, producers behind the Canadian music celebration received an effusive call from a devoted fan praising the awards telecast: Michael Bublé.

"He said: 'I would love to host again.' We took him up on that," Juno Awards president Allan Reid said of that backstage phone call.

The Burnaby, B.C.-born singer will indeed return to the Junos stage to host the annual celebration on his home turf in Vancouver next March, the first time the awards will air on CBC in 16 years.

"Here's a guy who is a global superstar, but you still feel like he's the guy next door. He still feels like Michael from Vancouver. That's part of his appeal," Reid told CBC News.

To be able to host the Juno Awards in my hometown is both an honour and a privilege.-  Michael  Bublé

In a statement, Bublé said he's "so grateful for the opportunity to host such an iconic night in Canadian music."

"To be able to host the Juno Awards in my hometown is both an honour and a privilege."

Speaking at a Junos event in Vancouver Tuesday, Bublé described the Junos as his "happy place," where he is surrounded by family, friends, respected artists and musicians. 

Michael Bublé reacts to the announcement of his Juno hosting duties, describing the event as his “happy place” in “troubled times." 0:35

"In troubled times, we get to have one night to really celebrate Canadian music and all of these beautiful things. I thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to handle that again."

Beyond being a Juno and Grammy-winning performer and "a true showman," Reid praised the singer's dedication to the gig.

The crooner known for hits like Haven't Met You Yet, Home and It's a Beautiful Day served as the Juno telecast's host in 2013 and picked up a Canadian Screen Award for his efforts.

Bublé previously hosted the awards show in Regina in 2013, winning a Canadian Screen Award for his efforts. (Liam Richards/Canadian Press)

"He's very involved – he doesn't just show up and read his lines" said Reid, who also heads the Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences and the charity MusiCounts.

"He really gets engaged, is very proud to be involved with the show. We love that. It just makes the show even better."

Getting back to work

Tuesday's announcement comes as Bublé gradually returns to the spotlight after time off with his family.

He and his wife, actress Luisana Lopilato, put their careers on hold in fall 2016 after their elder son, Noah, was diagnosed with cancer. The couple have a younger son, Elias.

The diagnosis arrived just after Bublé had released his ninth studio album, Nobody But Me. He promptly nixed the tour he'd planned in support of the release, as well as gigs hosting the 2017 Juno Awards, the BBC Music Awards and the Brit Awards.

Earlier this year, the couple revealed that Noah was "progressing well" with his medical treatment and Bublé accepted the National Arts Centre award in Ottawa as part of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards celebrations in June.

On June 28, 2017, Bublé poses with Gov. Gen. David Johnston at Rideau Hall after receiving the National Arts Centre Award as part of the Governor General's Performing Arts Awards celebrations in Ottawa. (Sean Kilpatrick/Canadian Press)

In his speech, he thanked Canadians for supporting his family during an "emotional and difficult" time.

Last week, Bublé confirmed a pair of European performances for July 2018 in Dublin and London.

Meanwhile, his record label, Warner Music Group, noted that the singer was planning "a very limited number" of performance dates next summer. 

Canadians succeeding at home, abroad

Bublé, who has sold more than 50 million records, is part of a thriving, diverse wave of Canadian musical acts making a splash around the globe, said Reid, a 30-year veteran of the music industry.

"The last three years have been some of the most incredible times for Canadian artists," he said, rhyming off a list of successful and rising artists from Drake, Justin Bieber, The Weeknd and Shawn Mendes to Alessia Cara, Jessie Reyez, Daniel Caesar and the James Barker Band.  

Any lingering connotation of the "Canadian sound" being solely that of a folksy singer-songwriter is gone, Reid said.

"The music has become incredibly diverse in this country and it's having success not just here, but in other markets around the world."

A week of Juno-related events gets underway in Vancouver on March 19, 2018, leading up to the Juno Awards broadcast on March 25 from the Rogers Arena. The awards show will air live on CBC-TV, CBC Radio and CBCMusic.ca.

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