MICHAEL BUBLE OPENS UP ABOUT FACING LIFE— AND LOVE—WITH NEWFOUND CONFIDENCE TWO YEARS AFTER HIS SON’S CANCER DIAGNOSIS
CChristmas is still weeks away, but Michael Bublé can’t contain his excitement. “I can smell it in the air,” announces the 44-year-old singer, his buttery voice rising an octave. “If you think I like Christmas, then double that by a zillion.” Listing off his holiday checklist—the Elf on the Shelf is showing up “very soon” at home, his favorite tune, “Please Come Home for Christmas,” by pal Jann Arden, is already in rotation, and “too much food and booze” is set to be delivered—bublé sounds more like one of his kids giddily awaiting Santa than a globe-trotting, Grammy-winning father of three. But given the roller coaster of highs and lows his family has been on recently, this capacity for joy has served him well. “My favorite thing about myself is the way I see life,” says the entertainer. “I have this childlike wonderment. Now, even more, I see things through the eyes of my kids.” That upbeat personality has been put to the hardest of tests. Two years ago, just three minutes before he was set to take the stage in London, Bublé received a shocking text from his wife, Argentinean actress Luisana Lopilato, that tore his world apart: Their then-3-year-old son Noah had been diagnosed with liver cancer. The Vancouver-based couple—who are also parents to son Elias, 2, and daughter Vida, 4 months—uprooted their lives that same month and moved to California, where they stayed by Noah’s bedside at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as he underwent grueling treatments and chemotherapy over the next seven months. Sitting down with People 18 months after Noah’s doctors cleared him of cancer, Bublé still feels a palpable relief. “Our prayers were answered. Life is good,” he says, though his signature sparkle fades for a moment when he reflects on the lifelong impact his son’s illness has had on him. “Listen, I am different,” he says. “You don’t go through big, dramatic things like I’ve gone through or my wife has gone through without it having an effect on you.” With Noah’s cancer in remission, Bublé recently released his 10th studio album, called Love but officially titled with just the heart emoji, a project he says almost didn’t happen after his son’s diagnosis. “I’m spending my time doing things I love and with people I love, for people I love,” he says simply.
Back in 2016 the Canadian crooner and fourtime Grammy winner was busier than ever, in the midst of promoting his latest hit album, Nobody But Me. Then came the worst news of his life. Bublé and Lopilato, 31, whom he wed in 2011, immediately put their careers on hold. “Everyone in my world understood what my priority was,” he says about stopping everything to relocate so Noah could receive lifesaving care. The overwhelming fear Bublé and his wife felt as their
toddler underwent treatment still moves him to tears, but, fiercely protective of his son’s privacy, he chooses not to rehash the specifics of Noah’s situation. However, he is quick to point out, “everything can be stressful, but I’ve got some superheroes in my life.” He is speaking not only of the doctors who treated Noah but of relatives, including his parents, sisters and Lopilato’s family, who all moved to L.A. to help: “They are who I thought they were.” He also leaned on his Roman Catholic faith and drew strength from messages of support fans sent his way. “There was an outpouring of compassion, and it gave me real faith in humanity,” he says. It also sparked an emotional response from Bublé. “When they got [the cancer] out and the chemo was done . . . and they said, ‘We did it; he’s good,’ I just fell,” he told James Corden in October. While Noah had been in treatment, “I became the strength to pull us and lift us and be positive,” but with his son in remission, he explained, “my wife picks me up now.” Today he grapples with some fear, and given the unpredictable nature of the disease, Bublé admits, “It’s still scary.” Yet when the time came to consider returning to the recording studio, he was driven by a new desire to express his gratitude for all the love he’d been shown. “Making this record and showing up is my way of saying thank you,” he says.
The recording process proved therapeutic for Bublé, who reunited with producer David Foster for his latest project. “He made it not because he had to, but because he wanted to,” says Foster. Back in the studio the longtime friends chose to focus on the joy over pain. “I may have become a bit clouded as to what I had fallen in love with in the first place,” says Bublé about his career before his family’s journey. Singing emotional songs like “Forever Now,” a nostalgic track he wrote for his children, Bublé says he now has “great clarity.”
He also sees that, more than ever, his wife is his rock. “She is my hero,” he says about Lopilato. “My wife helps me keep perspective. She’s a centered, kind, beautiful human being.” On Nov. 16 Lopilato wiped away tears and held hands with Bublé’s mother, Amber, as he was honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. “Being here with Mike after all we’ve been through is so emotional,” she told People after the ceremony. “I can’t stop crying. All three kids are at home and are so happy. We are just so thankful.” Coming out of a difficult year stronger than ever, Bublé and Lopilato were overjoyed when they discovered they were expecting their third child together, daughter Vida, whom they welcomed in July. “I picked it!” says Bublé of his daughter’s
‘It’s wonderful to have someone who is such a solid person and can bring you right down to earth’ —BUBLE, ON HIS WIFE, LUISANA
name, which means “life” in Spanish. “What says it better than life? What a miracle this kid is.” At just 4 months old, the baby girl is already living up to her name. “She’s got a big personality and looks like the mini-me of my wife,” he says. “She’s beautiful, expressive and tries to sort of talk like her brothers did.” With three kids under 5, life in the Bublé household is chaotic. “Don’t do it,” jokes the star. “If you haven’t done it already, don’t have three children.” But in all seriousness, the pitter patter of little feet and shrieks of “Papi! ” are what he wants to hear most. “I love being home and just listening and singing and drawing and wrestling. It’s the greatest,” he says about fatherhood. “My kids make me happiest.”
Bublé heads out on tour for the first time in nearly three years in February, but “as much as possible, we’re going to be together,” he says of scaling back performances to be with his family. “As a dad I want them to have that steady presence in their life. They think Papi is a star, and I don’t mean a star as a celebrity but rather darn good at reading books and having dance parties. That’s most important.” Lopilato, who is a TV star in her native Argentina, and Bublé will continue taking turns when it comes to work so that distance is never an issue. “It’s fun, actually,” he says about being on-set with Lopilato for her recent Netflix film Perdida. “It’s so cool to be with the kids, and all of a sudden Mommy comes over. She’s this tough girl punching these guys, then ‘Cut!’ and she’s putting the kids to sleep. It’s amazing.”
If he’s learned anything over the past two years, it’s where his priorities lie. “The perspective that I have on life now allows me to understand that I don’t have to sweat the small stuff,” he says. And other things that once seemed small really don’t anymore. “The days are long, but the years are short,” he says of how fast his kids are growing up. “We should enjoy those moments, because they go by really quickly.” All the more reason to celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. “My favorite thing in the whole universe is having my sisters, all their kids and my kids dancing to Christmas songs for hours,” he says. “That’s happiness right there.” Despite learning how unpredictable life can be, Bublé’s optimism is undaunted. “To look toward the future and all the wonderful things that are going to happen, it’s a great joy,” says the singer, “and life is even sweeter.”
‘I couldn’t have asked for a more rewarding, electric and emotional return’ —BUBLE, ON SINGING AGAIN