David Foster eager to add to Grammy haul

Canadian-born music producer David Foster is up for his 16th Grammy — out of 46 nominations over the years — at the Grammy Awards this Sunday.

46 nominations over three decades

Canadian-born music producer David Foster is up for his 16th Grammy — out of 46 nominations over three decades — when the annual music awards are presented Sunday.

The excitement and desire to win recognition from others in the music industry are still there, he said.

"You don't take the day off anymore. Maybe I did 30 years ago when I won my first Grammy, but not anymore. But it's still exciting. I still have the hunger," Foster said Wednesday in an interview with CBC's Q cultural affairs show.

Foster is working behind the scenes at this year's award ceremony in Los Angeles, producing a special number in support of Haiti. He wouldn't say who is involved but promised it's an "odd but great pairing."

He is the producer who pulled together one of the original musical benefits — the Tears Are Not Enough fundraiser in 1985 for African famine relief —and he's been involved in several benefits since then.

The recording academy that organizes the Grammys revealed Wednesday that Mary J. Blige and Andrea Bocelli will perform Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water during the telecast.

Seal approval

In his 35-year career, Foster has worked with artists like Céline Dion, Bryan Adams, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. His latest Grammy nomination, shared with Jerry Hey, is for arrangement on British artist Seal's cover of A Change is Gonna Come.

He said he didn't hesitate when Seal wanted to cover the Sam Cooke song for his soul-inspired album.

"Seal is very respected, probably more than me, in crossing the lines musically," Foster said. "The song choices we came up with together, some of which he had never heard before."

Foster was classically trained before he became one of pop's best-known producers.  He was in Toronto this week producing a special on the Canadian Tenors for PBS.

The Tenors — Clifton Murray, Victor Micallef, Remigio Pereira and Fraser Walters — performed earlier this week with Sarah McLachlan at Toronto's Koerner Hall.

Foster said his Grammy category will be awarded well before the main televised event, so he need not compose himself to lose.

"I was at the Grammys one year where I was nominated for seven awards and lost all seven. That was on television and that was tough," he said.

Canadian contingent

Canadian rock legend Neil Young and 23-year-old Toronto rapper Drake have two nominations each going into the awards. Canadians Michael Bublé, Nickelback, Northern Cree, Melanie Fiona and Michael J. Fox also are nominated.

Toronto native Fiona, 26, has been in Los Angeles for the past five years, working toward her big break. She was discovered by hip-hop impresario Steve Rifkind in 2007 and in 2008 opened for Kanye West on a European tour.

She is nominated for best female R&B vocal performance for her torch song, It Kills Me. After five years of trying to make the kind of music she wants to, she was thrilled to be nominated.

"It's like the best news I've ever received," Fiona said. "Oh my gosh, I instantly had flashbacks of just singing as a little girl into my hairbrush in front of the mirror.… It's just unbelievable."