William Shatner seemed a reasonably natural fit to host the Juno Awards in part because the “Star Trek” icon has maintained a side gig as a musician.
But anyone expecting the 81-year-old to provide a sample of his swaggering sing-speaking vocal style at Sunday’s award show will be disappointed. Even for someone as seemingly unafraid of embarrassment as Shatner, singing in a room full of musicians is just a little too bold.
“No, I will not (sing) – not with those singers there,” said a laughing Shatner in a recent telephone interview from Los Angeles.
“If you can find me some non-singers, I’ll sing for them. If I can be in an award ceremony that didn’t involve singing, then I’d sing.”
Not that Shatner is likely to face a hostile crowd when he takes the stage at Ottawa’s Scotiabank Place on Sunday.
When Juno nominations were announced at a packed news conference in Toronto back in February, nominees buzzed about the anticipated presence of the Montreal-born actor, whose most recent disc of covers, “Seeking Major Tom,” dropped last year.
Jim Cuddy, whose band Blue Rodeo is being inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame, said he was “thrilled” by the opportunity to see Shatner. New artist of the year nominee Alyssa Reid – only 19 years old – said that out of everyone attending, it would be “really, really cool” to meet the former Capt. Kirk. And Diamond Rings’ John O’Regan, up for new artist of the year, called the hosting choice “wicked.”
“Hopefully he wears the Trekkie suit at least for a little bit,” he said. “That’d be nice, right?”
Well, Shatner was keeping mum about the details of his performance but he conceded he couldn’t reciprocate the Juno nominees’ familiarity with him.
He calls the Junos a “neat awards ceremony” but says he hasn’t been able to keep up with recent broadcasts. And he admits he hasn’t had the chance to get to know this year’s nominees, led by a group of four-time contenders including Drake, Feist and Nickelback.
“No, I’ll do my best to get to know as many people as I can, because I admire every one of those nominees,” he said.
“Canada, for some reason – and I really think it’s the minerals in the water – produces a higher number of artists in every field, per capita, than any other other place I can think of. It’s amazing how original some of the artists from Canada are.
“That goes for the music as well.”
Regardless, Shatner has award-show hosting experience after helming film’s Genie Awards last year, also held in Ottawa.
That night, he earned laughs by poking fun at the Oscars as well as some of his famous friends, including recent Academy Award winner Christopher Plummer.
But he was coy when asked which music-industry figures could be the target of ridicule at the Junos.
“If I were to put them on notice,” he said, “they’d have something prepared.”
The Juno Awards will be broadcast on CTV.