Singer Bastian Baker is at home in sports venues like PPG Paints Arena
By JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
July 10, 2018
It's fitting that Bastian Baker will be the opening act for Shania Twain in an arena that's home to the Pittsburgh Penguins.
He was a former professional hockey player who left skating on an ice rink for singing on a stage.
In addition to starting the show, he will perform two duets with Twain in her Shania Now World Tour at 7:30 p.m. on July 17 at PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh's Uptown. The 48-show tour kicked off in Tacoma, Wash., on May 3 and wraps Aug. 4 in Las Vegas.
“It is so much fun touring with Shania,” says Baker, who is in Nashville, Tenn., working on his next album. “I go out there first and do the guitar warm up with the audience, and then I come back later and do a duet with her.”
How they met
Twain and Baker met six years ago in Switzerland — where he was born and raised— at the Montreaux Jazz Festival. Baker was invited to be part of the festival when one of the hosts spotted him in a bar and liked what he heard, asking Baker to play more that time and then inviting him to be part of the festival.
“It's sometimes about being in the right place at the right time,” Baker says. “That night in the bar, I was about finished with my set, but when asked if I could play more songs, I said ‘no problem.'
“Life is about staying positive and never giving up. I never thought I would be touring with Shania, but here I am,” he says.
No more hockey
Baker has given up hockey to play music. But that hasn't stopped his love of the sport. Being able to perform in ice arenas is special, he says, and it continues his connection to the game he's played since he was a child, like many members of his family.
“Going from hockey to music was a crazy move, but what is cool is we have been performing in some hockey arenas,” Baker says. “And to be in the same arena where (Pittsburgh Penguins star) Sidney Crosby plays is pretty amazing. Music has taken me to so many places.”
No particular genre
Baker says he doesn't focus on one genre when writing or selecting music to sing and play because he wants his sound to cross generations – from grandparents to grandchildren.
“I want everyone from the youngest to the oldest to enjoy my songs,” says Baker, who speaks five languages. “Music is about bringing people together. This is the best job in the world. We put smiles on peoples' faces, and I have a good time doing that. I feel the love and energy in these arenas, and every night we get to experience that.”
He says he often takes photos in the venues where he dreamed of playing hockey and plans to definitely capture the moment in Pittsburgh.
“I have gotten so much positive exposure touring with Shania,” Baker says. “She believes in me, and her fans are awesome. The fans' reactions have been so positive. We have great chemistry on stage.”
Shania Twain's Shania Now World Tour
With: Opening act Bastian Baker
When: 7:30 p.m. July 17
Where: PPG Paints Arena, Pittsburgh
About Bastian Baker
• His current single, “All Around Us,” was produced by 30-time Grammy nominee and three-time winner Jacquire King.
• He's partnered with Hugo Boss, Audi, Omega and Harley Davidson.
• He's shared bills with Elton John and Bryan Adams.
• He's competed on “Dancing with the Stars” (France) and was a guest host on “The Voice” (Belgium).
• He's approaching 12 million YouTube viewers.