CBC Digital Archives

Fred Penner releases first album

They come into our living rooms via the radio or TV set, speaking directly to the kids with a friendly, familiar tone. It's a rather intimate set-up, which is why the hosts of popular children's programs often hold a special place in our hearts — even long after we've grown up. From Mary Grannan to Ernie Coombs, the CBC Digital Archives has compiled a collection of radio and TV interviews featuring some of the CBC's most cherished children's program hosts.

It's 1980 and Fred Penner has recently released his first children's music album, The Cat Came Back. "What a macabre little song," comments interviewer Vicki Gabereau after playing the title song from the album on Don Harron's Morningside. Penner explains that The Cat Came Back -- about a man unsuccessfully trying to get rid of his unwanted cat -- is actually a folk song from the 1890s. In this interview, the Winnipeg musician discusses his album and explains his theories on performing and writing music for children.
• Note: This clip has been edited for copyright reasons.
  • Fred Penner was born in Winnipeg on Nov. 6, 1946.

• Penner was interested in music from a very young age. He taught himself to play the guitar while he was in grade school.

• Five years after this 1980 interview aired, Fred Penner got his own program on CBC-TV called Fred Penner's Place. Featuring music, puppets and storytelling, Penner's show aired on CBC from 1985 until 1997.

• Because his show began in 1985, the same year The Friendly Giant was cancelled, Penner was sometimes referred to by cynics as "the giant killer."

• Fred Penner and his wife, Odette Heyn, have four children. While he no longer has a TV show, he still regularly performs his music at children's concerts and festivals.

Medium: Radio
Program: Don Harron's Morningside
Broadcast Date: Aug. 6, 1980
Guest(s): Fred Penner
Host: Vicki Gabereau
Duration: 9:39

Last updated: September 17, 2012

Page consulted on December 6, 2013

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