Fred Penner leaves Regina music teacher star-struck

The children who grew up listening to the music of Fred Penner are now bringing their own children to see him perform.

'I still appeal to humanity, to the positive things in the world' says Fred Penner

Fred Penner in Regina


5 years ago
Musician Fred Penner reflects on four decades as an entertainer and recording artist. 1:47

Adrienne Mahoney is what Fred Penner would describe as a "Fred Head." The 31-year-old music teacher at Thomson Community School in Regina was star-struck when she met the musician at a concert at her school.

"This was a magical moment for me," said Adrienne Mahoney. (Nichole Huck/CBC)
"There are no words," she said. "This is huge, I grew up watching Fred Penner." 

It goes beyond nostalgia. As a music teacher, Mahoney said Penner is her inspiration. 

"I just want to plant that seed and get kids excited about music and he's the epitome of that."

Other teachers gushed over Penner, taking selfies with the musician and telling him how important he was to their childhood. 

Children at Thomson School in Regina prepared for Fred Penner's visit by drawing their favourite verse from his song The Cat Came Back. (Nichole Huck/CBC)

The teachers laid the groundwork for the visit by introducing the elementary school kids to the work of the Canadian icon. Many classrooms showed their students old videos from Fred Penner's Place, others wrote stories featuring the adventures of the cat who came back, and still others drew pictures of their favourite sandwiches.

"Anything we could do to bring the arts alive," explained Mahoney. 

They succeeded; students were able to sing, clap and meow along to many of Penner's classic songs. 

Fred Penner performs in front of students, teachers and parents at Thomson Community School in Regina. (Nichole Huck/CBC )

This year marks Penner's 44th year as a professional musician. He started exploring the world of music in his early 20's after his sister with down syndrome and father both died within a year of eachother.  

"That gave me the awareness of mortality and that sort of got me on the road to try and figure out what kind of bliss I needed in my life and music was always part of my expression."

His show Fred Penner's Place ran on CBC from 1985 to 1997. The show was simple, set in nature and featured lots of music. He was a pioneer in Canadian children's entertainment. 

"Once the industry found out there was a market here to sell stuff to kids, they flooded the market with a lot of not-great product. Then technology came in and it was less expensive to pay for an animated series than a real human being get in front of you."

Penner said his simple formula of "a guy with a beard and a guitar" is now making him stand out in a crowd.  

"In comparison to all the technology this is becoming unique, it's so basic and organic."

Penner admitted his music hasn't changed much over the last four decades, something he said he is proud of.  

"I still appeal to humanity, to the positive things in this world — to love and courage and respect and sharing. It's all about value and always has been for me."

Fred Penner performs in Regina


5 years ago
Fred Penner performed for a group of children in Regina. 0:46

Penner will be performing on Saturday, Jan. 23 at Darke Hall in Regina as part of the Regina Folk Festival's Winterruption Music Festival. 


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