Fred Penner's audience at the West Edmonton Mall (Supplied by Fred Penner)
When my musical journey began in the 60's with the folk scene and 70's touring with Al Simmons, acting at Rainbow Stage etc. I had no idea where it ultimately would lead. I was versatile and able to explore many different styles of stage creativity, but when my wife Odette and I focused on children and families in the late 1970's my world turned up side down.
There was a huge demand for music and performance for the children of the 'boomers'. The post WWII demography gave Raffi, Sharon, Lois and Bram and myself an amazing opportunity. We brought our individual styles to the the table and worked intensely to meet the demand.
I produced my first record, The Cat Came Back in 1979. This led to a five year relationship with Raffi's company Troubadour Records. We produced four more records in that time and then the fork in the creative road made the most significant turn. "Hello Fred? This is Dodi Robb, head of Childrens Television for CBC...would you like to do a TV series for children?"
I asked how I would do this and Dodi put the ball in my court. If I could do anything I wanted in such a series, what would it look and feel like? I did some soul searching and looked into elements from my own childhood which ultimately led to the creation of Fred Penner's Place. The series ran from 1985 -1997 in Canada and 1989 -1992 in the USA on Nick Jr. We did almost 1000 episodes and touched the lives of 100's of thousands of viewers, children, parents and grandparents.
Now the most amazing thing has happened. That generation have grown up and inevitably looks back to their influences when they were small and very often my name is spoken and suddenly a flood of memories returns to these young adults and visions of a log and a word bird come racing back.
I am in my 40th year of entertainment, and my palette includes keynote addresses at Early Childhood conferences, festivals and concerts across the country and I am honoured and delighted to be reconnecting with my early fans on their terms in their venues, i.e. the universities across Canada.
I have played everything from the Pit Pub at UBC to the Grawood at Dalhousie, in Nova Scotia, and a dozen spots in between. It almost feels like a new career has blossomed. I am staying healthy and creative, in that order, and getting re-aquainted with a smart and inspiring demographic who still love Sandwiches and The Cat Came Back. Who knew?
Photo of Fred Penner and Deep Dark Woods (supplied by Fred Penner)
Photo of Fred Penner and the band Sweet Thing (supplied by Fred Penner)
This content is provided by Fred Penner. The views expressed do not express the views of CBC. CBC is not responsible for this content.