MARCH 9th, 2016 INTERVIEW Fred Penner


by Deb Draper

The Cat Came Back: What an honor and pleasure it was to be speaking to internationally acclaimed family entertainer, singer, song-writer, composer, actor, writer, author, TV Host, public speaker, Mr. Multi-Media, Fred Penner.

You are a North American Veteran Folk artist with over 30 years in the business with 12 Children’s Albums, to which you received 2 Junos for Children’s Album of The Year and adding to your list of numerous accolades, The Order of Canada.

1)      Has The Order of Canada award further enhanced your life and in what way?

Not really, it is a badge of honor I wear regularly.  Occasionally I will meet others sporting the pin and we share a knowing look.  Am very proud of this award, major achievement in Canada!

2)      Has your song writing and performance styles changed since your entertainment career began in 1979?

Like any muscle, the more you use it the better you get.  The creative process is challenging always….What is it I want to share?  I like to think my style has been consistent.  I believe in the power of music to communicate with an audience.

Your caring nature makes positive differences in children’s lives starting with your then 12 year old sister Susan.  She was a huge influence in your career change from wanting to be an economist to an entertainer.

3)      Who would you say are your influences today?

I never wanted to be an economist, I  just followed the path of least resistance.  Today I respect the teachers who are trying desperately to raise and educate the children.  Unpaid and overworked, but so dedicated!  Musically the influences of Joni, Gordon, Neil, James continues.  The up and coming generation of young players is inspiring! Working hard in their craft.

4)      You are The Canadian Minister of Positivity, successfully transforming children’s entertainment into a family affair. Those 1st children followers, now adults

(myself included) a.k.a Fred Heads, would like to know how Mr. Fred Penner copes with a bad day, as you are always so upbeat and positive?

I breathe, meditate, focus, love, eat well, breathe, exercise, walk, share the feeling, play guitar, breathe.  Believe in myself.

5)      Your fans may not know that the crawling out of the log concept on your CBC TV series Fred Penner ’s Place, stemmed from your childhood living in Hull, Quebec in the 50s.

Can you tell us more on this concept?

I had a pet chicken in Hull in the 50s.  Our neighbors cat killed it.  I took the responsibility of burying her.  Back yard had a bush with low branches.  I had to crawl under to get to my quiet spot.  This is where she is buried.  As the TV series was evolving I remembered this story.  I believe children need quiet places in their lives.  Chill spots.  This is mine! So how do I bring that concept to a TV show …Hollow log!  Virtually the audience crawled thru with me to the safety of Fred Penner’s Place.

6)      What are your goals in mind when you perform?

Recognizing the audience.  We are in this (performance world) together. The songs we share hopefully connect and form a memory.  My shows are purposeful dialogues.  Communication with a child, with a caregiver and between child and caregiver during and after the show.

7)      What is next for Fred Penner, film or theatre?

The mighty unknown.  Hopefully all of the above.  I am open to the world of creative challenges, always.

When you are not writing or performing you are always passionately involved with children’s charities and organizations like UNICEF, World Vision and The Canadian Music Therapy Trust Foundation to which you are a host at this Music Therapy Fundraiser Event this FRIDAY MARCH 11th at Berkeley Church at 315 Queen Street East in Toronto at 7pm.  This foundation has seen benefits to music healing depression, dementia and brain injuries and so on.  Expect a fantastic line-up of Canadian stars featuring Royal Wood (our Peterborough connection for The Peterborough based Wire Megazine), Matthew Barber, Peter Katz, Emma Lee, Justin Rutledge (just to name a few).

Thank you so much for your time today Fred.  I am thrilled to be in attendance March 11th, to capture this Night of Musical Memories.

Folks, hurray don’t delay get your $45 tickets today thru or to help raise money for The Canadian Music Therapy Trust Foundation  event sponsored by Slaight Family Foundation, Beck Taxi, Frontier Sound and Lighting, Mill Street Brewery, Muskoka Brewery and  Steam Whistle Brewery.