Ten years after the Vancouver Olympics, Canadian crooner Michael Bublé says he’s moved to see the country come together once again for a show of solidarity, this time amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The jazz-pop singer from Burnaby, B.C., spoke at a virtual press conference from his home, ahead of Sunday’s star-studded, multi-platform special Stronger Together, Tous Ensemble.
He’s among dozens of artists expected to participate in the 90-minute event to support a $150 million campaign for Food Banks Canada’s efforts during COVID-19.
Many English and French Canadian broadcasters will air the show on dozens of TV, streaming and radio platforms.
Buble noted the event comes a decade after “we watched our country come together, all our artists, athletes, and we put on one of the greatest Olympics that anyone had ever seen.”
He says it moves him to see “all these incredibly talented people come together and do it once again.”
“We pulled together as a country and we blew the world away,” Buble said Friday in a video conference on Twitter.
“And for me it’s really emotional to see that 10 years later, under much different circumstances, our country is going to show its mettle once again — and we’re going to show the world what great Canadian firepower is all about and how resilient and how strong, how much love we have.”
Sunday’s lineup also includes musical acts Céline Dion, Justin Bieber, Shania Twain, Alessia Cara, Bryan Adams, Jann Arden, Sarah McLachlan, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Barenaked Ladies, Arkells, Sofia Reyes, and William Prince.
Other celebrities expected to appear from their homes include Ryan Reynolds, Mike Myers, Margaret Atwood, Geddy Lee, Daniel and Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Jason Priestley and Howie Mandel.
Organizers announced Friday that opera star Measha Brueggergosman and singer Anne Murray will also participate, with the latter expected to address the recent shooting rampage in her home province of Nova Scotia.
“Her power of voice that we’ll hear from her, when she speaks to the people in Nova Scotia, just seemed like such the right thing to do,” said Lindsay Cox, senior vice-president and executive producer at Insight Productions, which collaborated with Bell Media Studios and CBC/Radio-Canada in conceiving and producing the special.
The broadcast is also being presented in part through the support of Made / Nous, the industry-wide movement recognizing and celebrating creative Canadian talent.
Participating broadcasters include Bell Media, CBC/Radio-Canada, Corus Entertainment, Groupe V Média, Rogers Sports & Media, ATN, APTN, Blue Ant Media, Wild Brain, Hollywood Suite, NTV, OUTtv, Stingray, Super Channel, and Unis TV.
‘Least that we can do as entertainers is to give back’
Quebec artists in the lineup include Charlotte Cardin and Marie-Mai, who was also in Friday’s virtual press conference.
“People work so hard on the front lines and risk their own lives to save us, to heal us, so the least that we can do as entertainers is to give back,” Marie-Mai said.
Asked about criticism that not enough Francophone artists are in the lineup, Cox noted the event originated as a production for English Canada but then grew into something bigger.
Canadians who are able are invited to donate to Food Banks Canada in association with the broadcast.
Tania Little, chief development and partnerships officer of Food Banks Canada, said they’ve seen an increase in the amount of people using their services during the pandemic.
At the same time, they’ve seen a drastic drop in the number of volunteers, in large part because many of them are older and vulnerable during the pandemic.
Bublé acknowledged that he and others participating in the event have privilege during this time of crisis.
But like most families these days, his has felt moments of fear and uncertainty, and feels a responsibility to do what it can “for the people who have given us so much.”
“My family is scared,” said Bublé, who has three children with his actress-wife, Luisana Lopilato.
“We’re worried for our moms and dads and people that are vulnerable in my family. I know my wife is scared for her people in Argentina, and we wanted to do anything we could.”