An intimate evening with David Foster

An intimate evening with David Foster
MICHAEL D. REID / TIMES COLONIST
MAY 6, 2013

Piers Morgan wasn’t at the Oak Bay Beach Hotel Saturday night, but you could say he was there in spirit, says David Foster.

The colourful British CNN talk show host’s reputation as a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants personality inadvertently inspired Foster to be able to pull off his impromptu David Foster Foundation fundraiser, his Victoria-born friend said.

“I just thought of Piers and how impressed I am with how he can do those interviews on the fly,” said Foster, whose ritzy black-tie dinner and concert that also opened the David Foster Foundation Theatre brought to $284,000 the amount raised for the foundation by the hotel since its $52-million makeover.

Owners Kevin and Shawna Walker have pledged $2 million over 10 years.

The Grammy Award-winning musician hastily enlisted Fernando Varela, the Puerto Rican tenor he discovered on YouTube; classical crossover sensation William Joseph; and Los Angeles singer and longtime collaborator Nita Whitaker for the loosest concert yet in the 26-year history of the foundation that assists families with children who need organ transplants.

The anything-goes “intimate evening” was full of surprises as Foster, 63, breezed along on a wing and The Prayer, his pop-opera hit sung by Whitaker and Varela, whose high notes almost shattered wine glasses.

After Foster predicted he had Pavarotti potential, Varela thanked him for his support.

“Yeah, five years from now when I call him it’ll be like, ‘How’d you get this number?’ ” Foster joked.

Georgia Murray, the Victoria-based singer there with father Craig, owner of Nimmo Bay Resort, was cajoled onstage to deliver an impassioned take on Summertime.

“You’re a lot hotter than your brother,” Foster quipped, referring to The Tenors’ Clifton Murray.

“And he wears more makeup than me!” she replied.

Offstage, Murray recalled Kevin Walker gave her her first job when she was 18, singing on the hotel’s dinner cruises.

She also recalled her childhood at Nimmo Bay, where dad played guitar and she and Clifton sang for guests, adding with a laugh: “I learned The Little Mermaid when I was five and, unannounced to my parents, I sang it for the guests.”

Guest services attendant Daniela Jackson got her 15 minutes of fame, wowing guests with Bonnie Raitt’s Something to Talk About. Walker has been singing her praises since hearing Jackson sing Happy Birthday to guests.

Kathleen Burton, Victoria Hospice director of development, also got an ovation after singing Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.

Other highlights included Whitaker’s soaring versions of It’s Got to Be Real and I Will Always Love You; Varela’s rendition of Puccini’s Nessun Dorma; and Phoenix-based Joseph’s wizardry on the grand piano starting with Led Zeppelin’s Cashmere.

“The best way to describe my music is that it sounds like soundtracks to films that haven’t been written,” said the genial musician who has performed here four times since Foster discovered him 10 years ago.

This visit was more relaxing than his last, he said.

“We drove to the wrong side of the Island the day of the show, three hours in the wrong direction,” he recalled.

Foster was relaxed and self-deprecating, even acknowledging his blunders.

“If you do that song, it’ll ruin your career,” he said, recalling his reaction when Celine Dion said she wanted to do My Heart Will Go On.

“I hated that song then, and I still hate that song,” deadpanned Foster, whose musical flashback included passages from Chicago’s Hard to Say I’m Sorry and You’re the Inspiration; the Earth Wind and Fire hit After the Love Is Gone; and Wildflower, the 1970s Skylark hit he wrote with David Richardson, the retired Saanich cop who used his proceeds to feed the homeless in Israel.

Foster also elicited laughter recalling his years playing at the old Century Inn and Red Lion.

“I couldn’t play in the bar because I was only 16, so they cut a hole in the wall and I played on a platform beside the bar on the restaurant side.”

Foster didn’t even mind being overshadowed by his wife Yolanda Foster, one of the stars of the reality TV show Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

“I’m just a girl from Holland,” she said, smiling. “I’m not really from Beverly Hills. I just try to fit in.”

mreid@timescolonist.com

© Copyright 2013

[Video] Yolanda and David Foster on NBC Today – 29th January

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Grammy-winning writer David Foster is credited with discovering music stars such as Celine Dion, Michael Buble and Josh Groban. Now he’s made the move to reality television with his wife Yolanda Foster, who is the newest housewife on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” David says that Yolanda’s ability to give fantastic advice sets her apart on the show.

 

Recap of David Foster weekend – reporter notes

 

 

As if being a multiplatinum singer and songwriter weren’t enough, Josh Groban also has an amazing memory.

The Grammy Award-winning pop opera superstar demonstrated that during his Miracle Weekend visit.

“You were one of my first interviews! I remember that very well,” said Groban, smiling warmly as he recalled coming here 12 years ago as a rising star to perform The Prayer at the Victoria Conference Centre for a David Foster Foundation fundraiser.

Foster’s then-scrawny and unassuming 19-year-old musical protégé had taken time out of a rehearsal to chat.

“You can only hope,” Groban said Saturday, recalling how he never assumed he’d also become an actor whose sense of humour and charisma has enchanted CNN’s Piers Morgan and Kelly Ripa on Live! with Kelly, and enhanced Jack Black’s spoofy Tenacious D rock video.

His quick wit was evident during Saturday’s lengthy Miracle Concert at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre when, finally taking the stage after midnight, he quipped: “I feel like my set should come with free pancakes.”

Groban, 31, wasn’t the only celebrity waxing nostalgic at the 25th anniversary fundraiser that raised $4.6 million to aid families with children who need organ transplants.

Foundation alum Alan Thicke laughed when reminded how quotable he was during the mid-1980s softball fundraisers.

“I must have had better writers back then,” joked the actor before explaining how he still looks youthful 25 years later.

“It’s just a lot of poutine and Haagen Dazs, a little hair colour and you hope you’re on right side of the grass every morning,” quipped Thicke, who ribbed Wayne Gretzky mercilessly back then for going to the L.A. Kings from the Edmonton Oilers.

“We have a lot of hockey hopefuls in L.A. right now,” he said of the Kings, who have advanced to the Stanley Cup final. “Everybody’s very excited about the Kings. We’re sorry to come in here with Wayne and rub it into the Canucks fans in the town that hockey forgot.”

Sarah McLachlan reminisced about singing I Will Remember You when Good Morning America broadcast from here in 1996.

“We were up in the Empress tea room,” she recalled. “And here I am, back at the Empress.”

During rehearsal, she feigned anger when Foster corrected her during a song runthrough.

“You get up here and sing it!” joked McLachlan, who later noted she has a Sept. 15 fundraiser in Vancouver’s Stanley Park for the Sarah McLachlan School of Music, her free music program for children.

Michael Bublé, who flew in Friday for the naming of David Foster Way, was also in a reflective mood.

“I haven’t changed as much as people have changed around me,” he said when reminded how he graciously interrupted his nap time at the Empress for an interview when he was a relative newcomer at a Foster fundraiser 10 years ago.

Would he do such a thing at this stage of his career?

“I’m pretty close to that same guy. I’m probably less insecure than I was back then, so I have less to prove. I’m probably nicer and happier.”

The Grammy Award-winning crooner, accompanied by his parents, was in a playful mood.

“I’d like to thank Pam [Anderson] for being here because I love you, and then thank my wife for not being here,” he joked.

Foster was touched that Bublé called Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin a year ago with the David Foster Way proposal.

“I’ve worked for 40 years with hundreds of artists and not one has ever done what Michael Bublé did.”

Port McNeill’s Clifton Murray reminisced about his performance with the Canadian Tenors for Queen Elizabeth during a private tea May 13 at Windsor Castle, where they sang Hallelujah and a last-minute request.

“We had to arrange a four-part harmony of God Save the Queen on the ride over, and that was nerveracking,” he said.

“She’s an angelic person. She’s 85 but still very aware and youthful, and she gives you that moment to really communicate with her.”

Murray also lamented the death of Donna Summer, with whom the Tenors sang Amazing Grace at a dinner party at Foster’s home last year.

“Looking back, it was surreal,” he said, noting Summer and the Tenors were potentially going to record together.

Nita Whitaker, whose rendition of Summer’s megahit Last Dance had to be cut for technical reasons, said she was honoured to have worked with the disco queen.

She was so nice and selfeffacing and faith-filled,” said Whitaker. “I had a moment where I got to pray with her in October when she wasn’t feeling great. There was a spiritual connection.”

Foster spoke and performed The Prayer with Natalie Grant at Summer’s private funeral in Nashville last Wednesday. He said he was crushed when he learned about the death of his close friend who performed last November at his star-studded wedding to Yolanda Hadid, the former Dutch supermodel and new co-star of Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.

“Yolanda couldn’t get out of bed for two days,” he said. “She was inconsolable.”

FOSTER FACTS

Facts and figures from the David Foster Foundation’s 25th annual Miracle Weekend:

– Total raised: $4.6 million (does not include an initial pledge of $2 milllion over 10 years from the Oak Bay Beach Hotel’s Kevin and Shawna Walker)

– 150 volunteers supported the event

– Five families who have been supported by the David Foster Foundation attended from across Canada

– $114,000 raised on Foster Friday on CFAX

– 333 crew arrived from across the U.S. – plus a tech expert from Italy – to support the show – Source: David Foster Foundation

mreid@timescolonist.com
© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

Foster leads the way for stars

 

 

David Foster, centre, B.C. singer Michael Buble and Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin christen David Foster Way on Victoria’s harbourfront on sunny Friday afternoon.
Photograph by: Lyle Stafford, timescolonist.com (May 2012)

BY MICHAEL D. REID, TIMES COLONIST

A celebrity-filled weekend celebrating the 25th anniversary of David Foster’s foundation got off to a rousing start Friday when a harbour walkway was named in his honour.

Hundreds gathered on Government Street for the surprise unveiling of the David Foster Way sign at the corner of Belleville and Government streets.

“This is better than a Grammy!” exclaimed Foster, expressing his appreciation to crooner Michael Bublé for calling Victoria Mayor Dean Fortin a year ago with the idea.

“Thanks for taking my call,” said Bublé, who made an unexpected appearance. When completed, the walkway will be five kilometres, stretching from Ogden Point to Rock Bay.

Bublé and Foster were joined by Pamela Anderson, the Canadian Tenors, Rick Hansen, American Idol finalist Michael Johns and Foster’s wife Yolanda Coast Fisherman’s Harbourside Wharf Hadid. The celebrities are in town to support fundraising events for Foster’s foundation, which provides financial support for families of children who need organ transplants.

 

 

 

Foster flew into Victoria with Anderson on a private jet at 3 a.m. He then appeared on CFAX 1070’s 12-hour radiothon, which raised $111,720 for the foundation.

Foster later walked the red – or in this case, purple – carpet to a dinner and concert at Fairmont Empress’s Crystal Ballroom Friday night. A crush of fans assembled for a glimpse of stars. Guests included Foster, Ben Mulroney, the Canadian Tenors, American Idol winner Ruben Studdard and Anderson – wearing a low-cut, silky-green cocktail dress – who caused a traffic jam on the carpet.

The fundraiser, attended by guests who paid $10,000 a couple for a gala weekend, was to have been held at Oak Bay Beach Hotel, which pledged $2 million to the foundation. When construction issues delayed the hotel’s reopening, the Fairmont Empress stepped in.

“First we had to face a bit of sadness, but now we’re over that,” said Oak Bay Beach Hotel owner Kevin Walker.

“At this point, we’re elated at how [Empress manager] Martin Leclerc and his team have opened their doors, welcoming us into the big house.” Dozens of Oak Bay Beach Hotel employees teamed up with Fairmont Empress staff.

“This is Victoria, a very unique community,” said Leclerc. “We were very proud to provide the answer to that puzzle and proud that north of $200,000 goes to help saving lives by helping the foundation.

Everybody wins.”

Events continue today, featuring a concert at Saveon-Foods Memorial Centre that stars Josh Groban, Sarah McLachlan and the Canadian Tenors.