Winnipeg musicians invited to sing with Michael Bublé at concert

Several Winnipeg artists got to sing with Michael Bublé during his concert at the Canada Life Centre on Friday.

Bernie Pastorin, who is the artistic director for the a cappella group Those Guys, was one of the artists invited to sing with Bublé.

“It was hard to say no. I couldn’t say no,” Pastorin told CBC News on Saturday.

He and six other vocalists formed an ad hoc gospel choir, joining 53 of Bublé’s backup singers who had travelled with him to Winnipeg.

Pastorin said all the local artists who sang with Bublé are established musicians in their own right.

“We’ve come from all across the city, from different genres,” he said.

Pastorin said they were given the music to learn on their own before coming together for a quick rehearsal on the night before the show.

On Friday, they arrived for a sound check with the band. Bublé arrived for his sound check shortly after. Pastorin said he had to find a balance between being a Bublé superfan and a musician.

“I had to keep myself in check.”

Bernie Pastorin, who performed on stage with Bublé, says he’s limiting the number of videos he watches of the performance so he can keep his own experience in his mind. (Submitted by Bernie Pastorin)

During the concert, Pastorin and the other Winnipeg singers joined Bublé on stage as he performed a cover of Sam Cooke’s Bring It On Home To Me.

Pastorin said as he was backstage, on the biggest stage he has ever performed on, he had to tell himself not to pass out from nerves.

“I just told myself, ‘Bernie, you have a job to do and it’s a job you enjoy and you love doing. So just have fun,'” he recalled.

‘I’ll carry this on forever’

Pastorin said he had goosebumps throughout the performance, and said it took a while from him to come down from “being on cloud nine.”

He said he’s grateful there were family and friends of his in the audience who could share their videos with him, but Pastorin said he’s going to try and limit how many he watches.

“I kind of want to keep, you know, my own memories intact and just to have them live in my head so that I’ll carry this on forever,” he said.

Pastorin says he was telling himself not to pass out when he was waiting backstage before singing with Bublé. (Submitted by Bernie Pastorin)

Heitha Forsyth, a Winnipeg musician, was asked by Bublé’s agents to bring together the gospel choir for the concert. She said it was a first in her career to be able to participate in a touring show as a local artist, and she hopes more travelling acts to Winnipeg will consider hiring local talent to participate in shows.

“It is wonderful that there are acts out there that know they can draw from the wonderful pool of musicians from city to city,” Forsyth said.

She said it was extremely difficult picking only six other vocalists for the gospel choir because of the large amount of vocal talent in Winnipeg. Forsyth said she needed to pick people who would sound the best, be comfortable learning their parts quickly and stay professional as they worked with Bublé and his team.

“I tried to spread kind of it far and wide, thinking about things like diversity and fairness. I tried not to hire just only my good buddies,” Forsyth said.

She said they spent a total of about four minutes on stage, but the experience will stay with her for a lifetime.

“I’m just very proud to be from here and to work with these folks,” Forsyth said. “And the people who were on the gig with me last night, they were just incredible.”

Heitha Forsyth was tasked with putting together a seven-piece local gospel choir for Michael Bublé’s concert in Winnipeg. (Danelle Cloutier/CBC)

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