Article: Fostering a solid foundation


David Foster and Wayne Henuset


Stephen Hunt, Calgary Herald
Published: Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mr. Grammy is available for lessons.

At least David Foster was available for Calgary businessman Wayne Henuset on Wednesday when the 43-time Grammy nominee (and 14-time winner) flew here from Los Angeles to personally tutor Henuset, president of Willow Park Wines and Spirits and Energy Alberta Corporation.

Henuset later hosted an exclusive dinner for the 57-year-old music icon, who has produced Whitney Houston and Celine Dion, among many others, and also wrote the 1988 Calgary Olympics theme.

“This town’s huge,” Foster said Wednesday, looking suave in a black suit and tie.

“I haven’t been here since the Olympics, and I’m just shocked at how incredible it is. It’s a thriving metropolis.”

Foster was in Calgary to promote a Sept. 8 gala he’ll host for his charitable foundation at the Hyatt hotel.

Guests will pay up to $1,500 to listen to as-yet-unnamed musical icons. Foster wasn’t dropping any names Wednesday, however last year’s event in Richmond, B.C., which raised $3 million, featured Michael Buble, Olivia Newton-John, Clay Aiken and comedian George Lopez, among others. A similar event in Niagara in 2006 featured Andrea Bocelli, American Idol runner-up Katharine McPhee and Buble.

Foster said the Calgary lineup has not been finalized, but did offer a “guarantee it will be two or three big names.”

An announcement will be made next month regarding who will appear, according to Foster’s spokesman, Bill Vigars.

The David Foster Foundation was formed in 1985, when Foster learned about a young Victoria woman who needed a kidney transplant and wanted, more than anything, to see her sister. Her sister could not afford to visit, so Foster picked up the tab.

“There’s a gap in the system,” says Foundation vice-president Ian Tostenson, “which is that no one takes care of the families when they go through the horrendous ordeal of transplant.”

The David Foster Foundation was started to help families cover the non-medical expenses related to such experiences.

“When we first started, there was no (transplant) surgery in Canada,” says Foster. Canadians were forced to have transplants done in California, Pittsburgh, or even London, England.

Now, transplants are done in several places in Canada, but the need still exists.

Foster’s Foundation was previously focused on British Columbia, but he recently decided to take it national.

“Think about a family in Newfoundland, who has to travel to Toronto to Sick Kid’s Hospital and try to have some sort of life in Toronto,” Foster says. “It’s unbearable.”

Foster says working with his charity is one of the most gratifying parts of his career.

“(The charity work is) certainly more lasting,” he says.

“You win the Grammy and it’s the most exciting thing that’s happened to you, and that night you party and drink and get crazy and then the next morning, you’re back to work.

“The day after I came back from Toronto, all I could think about was the two children I saw, one of whom has already passed away since I left Toronto that was waiting for a heart transplant and couldn’t get it.”

And how did Henuset, who had not had a piano lesson since he was 12, rate Foster as a piano teacher?

(Foster showed Henuset that Born Free and the Star Wars theme were basically the same song, then played the 1988 Calgary Olympics theme).

“Overwhelming,” said Henuset from the foyer of his elegant Lake Bonaventure home, where he flew in a chef from the Kendall-Jackson Winery in California to cook dinner for the assembled guests, who included Calgary Centre Tory MP Lee Richardson and Enmax’s Gary and Patricia Holden, among others.

“I wasn’t able to keep up. He is a legend,” Henuset says.

Source: Calgary Herald

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