There were hard times for David Foster Foundation
David Foster admits that there was time when the future of charitable foundation bearing his name was uncertain.
The organization that collects funds for survivors of pediatric organ transplants has helped with the medical expenses of over 1,100 Canadian families to date. This weekend celebrates its 30th Gala and Concerto Anniversary in Vancouver with a line of stars, including Oprah Winfrey, Jay Leno, Goldie Hawn and Steven Tyler, to name a few.
The 16 award-winning producer and musician outlined the goals he has for the foundation, which he admits, was inadequate in the early 2000s.
“We hit a serious lull about 15 years ago when I took my eye off the ball and we were down to $49,000 in the bank,” said Foster. “So I decided to get fierce and we expanded across Canada and had a major shift in the board in 2010 that lead to making a $30 million dollar commitment, which will probably turn into $50 million by the end. The $49,000 was my fault and the $50 million will be due to a lot of others, not just me.”
The list of others is a true celebrity of entertainment and sports as well as corporate superstars such as Boston Pizza founder and Dragons’ Den member Jim Treliving. Foster is candid about what it takes to get the likes of Oprah to join you on stage.
“It’s begging, really,” he said. “We all do things for each other on occasion, as I appeared at Goldie’s fundraiser awhile back, and so on. Jay Leno, who I know but not well, just volunteered to be there because he’s one of those great guys who is very charitable. Steven Tyler did our event in Calgary which was a huge blowout and he donated money to the foundation that night.”
There have been numerous 250 events to support the foundation and have been able to bring in a very varied and A-list guest group at all. Like every show, you get to use your connections. Sometimes celebrities could be linked, like German Tommy Haas, who is Foster’s father-in-law. As always with this annual event, David Foster works on and promises that there will be some surprise names added to the already loaded roster.
“I always do my best to give the crowd a little something extra and they won’t be disappointed,” he said. “Honestly, I get star-struck myself being around people like Oprah. There is just something about her.”
David Foster new production: Carla Bruni ‘s “French Touch”
Recently, Foster plied his producer chops with no less than a celebrity model and star singer Carla Bruni-Sarkozy. The newly released album, titled French Touch, is the first English version of the Franco-Italian vocalist. The cover song collection ranges from Highway to Hell AC / DC to Clash Jimmy Jazz and standards such as Stand By Your Man and Moon River that have given a distinctive cool jazz.
“To Carla’s credit, she lead me on this album because she didn’t want the David Foster sound even though she wanted to work with me,” he said. “She has a huge fan base, who probably prefer to hear her sing in French, and had very specific ideas of how to do this which included my string arrangements. I think we succeeded, mainly because of her keeping the album cool because she just reeks with coolness.”
This eclectic project falls beyond the popular pop kingdom of Foster. David Foster works on the project he thinks is humble enough and he hopes to help Bruni bring a broader fan base.
David Foster works on new projects in New York
Surprisingly, Foster is taking his talent away from pop and heading to Broadway. He bought a home in New York and is working on three different projects, all destined for the musical theater stage. Among the projects is an adaptation of Amy Bloom’s Lucky Us novel, a project he can not name and – of all things – a musical based on the iconic Max Fleischer Betty Boop comic character. The first cartoon character to be ever profiled in A & E biography television series, the character featured by Mae Questel, appeared in over 100 cartoons from 1932 to 1939.
The show was fast for production next year, with readings in December. David Foster works writing musicals, explaining his interest comes from a love for form and a good song.
“The way to explain it, is that when I wrote all those hits in the 80s and 90s, I did it with abandonment and didn’t think about it,” he said. “But when you get older, you eventually start to go from leading to chasing to write for a particular artist or style. The thing about Broadway is that you don’t have to do that, because it’s about the song suiting the story, and I find myself behind the keyboard writing with abandonment again.”