Review: David Foster’s Miracle Weekend: Starry, starry night a big hit

 

 

Charity fundraiser helps families of children who need organ transplants
Mike Devlin, timescolonist.com

In terms of nights on the town, this one was pretty starry, indeed.
Bolstered by an all-star assembly of talent – including American Idol alums Ruben Studdard and Michael Johns, singers Josh Groban and Sarah McLachlan, boxing icon Muhammad Ali, and comic Sinbad, among others – the grand finale of David Foster’s Miracle Weekend was a capital-E event.
Following a charity auction that on the floor raised more than $2 million for the David Foster Foundation, a segment of the seven-hour evening that drew a standing ovation with a brief appearance by the Phoenix-based Ali, the concert portion got underway with an extended video of Foster’s biggest hits.
But as they say in the business, there ain’t nothing like the real thing, and when Foster weaved through the audience on his way to the stage it was to a rapturous ovation from his fans.
Foster opened with his signature song, Love Theme From St. Elmo’s Fire, a fitting way to open the David Foster Foundation’s 25th Anniversary Miracle Concert and Gala. Not long after, he addressed the crowd with a burst of excitement.
“Do you have any idea how fantastic it was to stand at the back of that room and see this town give over the space of 20 minutes over $2 million?” Foster said, incredulous at the outpouring of support for the families of children in need of life-saving organ transplants.
“This is beyond my wildest dreams.”
Seattle-bred star Kenny G was late to the party, so to speak (he didn’t arrive until mere hours before showtime) but when he joined Foster it was like the noted smooth jazz instrumentalist had been here all week. As he strode through the audience, holding a single, sustained note on his soprano saxophone, it proved in less than a minute why he is the biggest selling instrumental artist of his generation.
The playful jabs between G and Foster, who ribbed each other about their previous divorces, weren’t bad, either.
The crowd of roughly 6,000 came alive at the appearance of the Canadian Tenors, the singing group whose earlier incarnation got its start in Victoria. Known for their opera-infused songs, some of which were written by Foster, the group brought down the house with a strong two-song performance, even without member Remigio Pereira, who had taken ill. Their mini set not only had Foster in awe, it prompted hockey legend Wayne Gretzky to ask, “How good were the Tenors?”
You know who was good? Studdard. The Velvet Teddy Bear serenaded Ali with an impromptu song that all but brought the crowd to tears. “I hope somebody got that on film,” Foster said.
Studdard kicked it up a notch when he sang a quiet-storm version of Michale Buble’s Home, which Foster’s daughter, Amy, co-wrote. Need evidence as to why Studdard won American Idol in 2003? He delivered it.
A video montage of previous Foster fundraisers put into perspective how long Foster has been at this game – and how many stars have appeared in Victoria over the years, from Olivia Newton-John and Michael J. Fox to Rob Lowe and John Travolta.
“Boy, was it worth it,” Foster said, making note of his changing hairstyles over the years.
Sinbad brought the humour big-time, mocking Wayne Gretzky for leaving Edmonton for L.A., among other things. During his set he warned Victorians of letting U.S. citizens know about the best Victoria has to offer (“Don’t tell ’em, they’ll mess it up,” he cautioned) and told a hilarious (and seemingly true) story about the recording process of Foster’s first hit with Skylark, Wildflower, that involved Sinbad and a stolen harp.
“I still have that thing in my basement,” Sinbad said. “Still can’t play it.”
Foster played Man in Motion, with help from American Idol finalist Michael Johns, which was accompanied by a video montage of the man who inspired the song, Rick Hansen.
“She is one of the most beautiful talents I have ever come across,” Foster said, by way of introduction to Vancouver singer-songwriter Sarah McLachlan. “Ever, ever.”
McLachlan sang Adia by herself at the piano, from the satellite stage, but the real magic was to come minutes later, when – for the first time in 20 years – she sang the song Angel without being seated at the piano. That was Foster’s territory on this night, and he and McLachlan made for a fine pair – as in, cue the standing ovation.
“God, was that heavenly,” Foster said at the conclusion.
The Canadian Tenors came back to the stage with McLachlan and Kenny G in tow for a version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah that would have all but sealed the deal on this night – that is, if it weren’t for Josh Groban.

 

 

The multi-platinum singer, who said he was suffering from laryngitis, sang the touching February Song sitting at the piano as if he was in perfect health, and delivered with assistance from Foster a moving version of Don McLean’s Vincent (Starry Starry Night).
Groban took it up a notch when he went to the satellite stage, with backing from red-robed members of the Canadian College of Performing Arts, and closed the show with You Raise Me Up. It was a fitting message, and song.
The stars were good, indeed. The Hitman, as Foster is known, was equally effective. He kept it local all night, from backing by members of the Victoria Symphony to stories of his days growing up in the Garden City.
We’re happy to have had him. Even though he now lives in Los Angeles, he’s still ours. And with concerts like the one he put on Saturday night – the final total was $4.6 million – we’re all the better for his generosity.
mdevlin@timescolonist.com
© The Victoria Times Colonist 2012

Hearts sing on Victoria’s night of stars

 

 

David Foster addresses the audience during Foster’s Miracle Concert at Save on Foods Memorial Centre.
Photograph by: Adrian Lam , Times Colonist

David Foster’s Miracle Weekend lived up to its title Saturday night, climaxing with a glitzy, star-studded concert that was as much a trip down memory lane as a heart-wrenching fundraiser to assist families of children who need organ transplants.

Muhammad Ali, who got a thunderous ovation when he took his place at the head table after a gala dinner and auction at Save-On-Foods Memorial Centre before the main event, was the star attraction.

“The champ is in the house,” said Mike Ravenill, chief executive officer of the David Foster Foundation.

Although Ali, in declining health, didn’t appear on the red carpet, celebrities including Pamela Anderson, Sarah McLachlan, Kenny G, Sinbad, American Idol star Ruben Studdard, the Canadian Tenors and hockey legend Wayne Gretzky ran a gauntlet of fans, photographers and media, dramatically followed by a Scottish pipe band ushering in Lt.-Gov. Steven L. Point.

 

 

Gleeks and “Grobanites” came out in force to see Josh Groban, the Grammy Award-winning pop opera singer and actor featured in Glee and The Office, who arrived just hours before showtime because of flight delays from New York.

Foster predicted Groban, 31, would be a superstar when he first brought his protégé here as a 19-year-old.

“Having David as a lift-off doesn’t hurt anybody. We’ve had a great time walking the walk,” he said. “I’m honoured my fans have stuck with me and allowed me to branch out.”

Groban’s fans included 70 Canadian College of Performing Arts students barely able to contain their excitement over being selected to back Groban up on his inspirational megahit You Raise Me Up.

It was a miracle Kenny G made it in time for the concert. “I’m a little off but I’m excited to be here,” he said after flying from Asia, where he has just wrapped a concert tour. He landed just 90 minutes before showtime.

Saturday’s eclectic musical showcase, featuring an orchestra and Foster’s Hitman band, included Studdard’s soulful rendition of Mornin’ which Foster wrote for Al Jarreau; and Hallelujah, reuniting McLachlan with the Canadian Tenors.

The Tenors were also scheduled to sing Because We Believe and Adagio.

Jamie Cormier, who received a liver transplant when he was 10 months old, said he felt privileged at the concert. “I feel so blessed,” said Cormier, now 23. “When I saw everybody perform, I knew it would be a spectacular night.”

The spectacle included longtime Foster collaborator Nita Whitaker’s rendition of the Donna Summer hit Last Dance. “I stood there for a second because I just wanted to feel her,” said Whitaker, reflecting on the disco diva who died of cancer last week.

“She was such a dear friend,” recalled Foster, who said Summer agreed to perform at the Miracle Concert before her death on May 17.

“She was supposed to be here tonight singing that song. But I wanted Nita to do it for me because I loved her so much.”

By Saturday night, the auction had raised $2 million, the foundation announced.

Among the luxury items up for auction was Foster’s grand piano, which went for $500,000, and an invitation to Ali’s Celebrity Fight Night.

mreid@timescolonist.com

© Copyright (c) The Victoria Times Colonist

Ali to pump up Foster gig

 

 

Victoria producer recounts rounds ‘in the presence of greatness’
By Michael D. Reid, Times Colonist

When Muhammad Ali appears here Saturday, fans will be “in the presence of greatness,” said David Foster.

Although in declining health since being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, the legendary boxer and humanitarian knocked Foster out by agreeing to appear during his foundation’s Miracle Weekend, which starts today.

“Is there any human being on the planet greater than Muhammad Ali?” said Foster, a Victoria native.

“Gandhi’s gone, Mother Teresa’s gone. This guy is Gandhi and Mother Teresa and Martin Luther King rolled into one.”

Ali, 70, is expected to arrive Saturday in time to appear that evening at the David Foster Foundation’s Miracle Concert and Gala, featuring Josh Groban, Sarah McLachlan, Kenny G, Pamela Anderson and others.

It’s the centrepiece of its 25th anniversary Miracle Weekend, which begins today at 6 a.m. with Foster Friday, a 12-hour CFAX radiothon, and tonight’s private black-tie gala at the Fairmont Empress.

“He’ll be here barring any unforeseen circumstances,” Foster said. “His health literally fluctuates from day to day.” Foster, a 16-time Grammy Awardwinner, whose foundation assists families with children who need organ transplants, will never forget what The Greatest once said to him: “You’re that white pretty-boy piano player, aren’t you?”

Although the disease “is kicking his ass,” Foster said Ali’s spirit and physical strength keeps his good friend going.

“When I first met him, we’d play piano and he’d be onstage doing magic tricks, but a lot has changed in 15 years,” said Foster, a regular at Ali’s Celebrity Fight Night fundraisers in Phoenix, Arizona, benefiting his Muhammad Ali Parkinson Research Center.

“When he walks in anywhere, everybody stops,” Foster said. “You’re going to feel him all night, his presence.”

Before appearing on the red carpet for tonight’s gala celebrating the reopening of the Oak Bay Beach Hotel, Foster, his wife, Yolanda Hadid, Ruben Studdard, the Canadian Tenors and others will appear on CFAX 1070.

As he prepares for his third Foster Friday, morning man Al Ferraby said he’s ready for anything –
like when Foster got Elizabeth Taylor on-air, did an impromptu number with Groban in studio and another with Kenny G playing sax on the phone.

“David’s all about the unexpected,” Ferraby said with a laugh. “But he knows what he’s doing and he’s a pro, so we let him do it.”

Foster is expected to appear on-air this morning with people who have received organ transplants and their families, local personalities and other celebrities. The public is invited to drop by the studio at 1420 Broad St. to donate. To pledge online, call 2503861161.

Tickets for Saturday’s concert and gala can be bought online through davidfostermiracleconcert.com or selectyourtickets.com or by calling 250-220-7777.

Stars on stage, gems on auction block at Foster gala

 

 

By Michael D. Reid, Times Colonist May 23, 2012

It seems appropriate that a Victoria musician who has become synonymous with the Grammy Awards would be tempted to auction off a one-of-a-kind experience at Hollywood’s biggest night in music for his charity’s 25th anniversary fundraiser.

A night at the Grammy Awards paired with an invitation to rub shoulders with stars of stage, screen and the music world is among the live-auction items up for grabs Saturday night during the David Foster Foundation 25th Anniversary Miracle Weekend.

Gala dinner guests at the Grammy Award-winning producer’s Miracle Concert on Saturday at Save-on-Foods Memorial Centre will have several lots to choose from to help raise money for families of children needing organ transplants.

Racing-car enthusiasts with deep pockets can bid on the opportunity to meet racing legend Mario Andretti and some of the world’s top drivers at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway’s Indy 500. Oenophiles will most likely prefer private tours of Napa Valley vineyards, or a luxurious week-long stay at a 15th-century chateau in the heart of France’s wine country.

Other deluxe items on the auction block include attending the ceremony when Foster is presented with a star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame this fall, then watching a taping of ABC’s hit comedy Modern Family; and meeting Céline Dion after catching her new show in Las Vegas, with a bonus Cirque de Soleil performance.

And Danny Hooper, “the Wayne Gretzky of fundraising auctioneers,” likely won’t have much trouble fetching top dollar for an invitation to Muhammad Ali’s Celebrity Fight Night, including the chance to meet the champ in Phoenix and sit in on a star-studded rehearsal for Ali’s main event.

Ditto for a week-long getaway to a 60,000-square-foot Caribbean estate, including a private concert by the Canadian Tenors.

Meanwhile, Michael Johns, the Australian singer-songwriter and American Idol Season 7 finalist, will join Ali, Sarah McLachlan, Josh Groban, the Canadian Tenors, Kenny G, Gretzky and other stars at the weekend event, which is being presented in collaboration with the Oak Bay Beach Hotel to mark its grand reopening this summer.

An estimated 400 tickets costing $125-$250 were still available Wednesday for Saturday’s Miracle Concert, a foundation spokesman said. A limited number of seats, priced at $1,000, for the gala dinner preceding it were also available.

The weekend gets underway Friday with a CFAX fundraising radio-thon and a sold-out gala dinner and private concert featuring Foster and surprise guests Friday night at the Fairmont Empress Crystal Ballroom.

mreid@timescolonist.com

On the web: davidfostermiracleconcert.com

Sarah McLachlan joins Foster concert lineup

 

 

From TimesColonist.com

David Foster’s Miracle Weekend has attracted a major star, with word on Wednesday that Sarah McLachlan would be appearing at the concert and gala.

“I’m so excited to come home and share this amazing show with Victoria and now to have the amazing Sarah McLachlan — it makes it even better,” said Foster in a statement.

McLachlan will sing a special duet with the Canadian Tenors, Foster said. Other performers appearing at the 25th annual event include Josh Groban, Kenny G, Ruben Studdard and Sinbad.

Tickets are available through Sell Your Tickets at 250-220-7777 or through selectyourtickets.com. Prices range from $125 to $250 with all proceeds going to the David Foster Foundation.

The foundation supports families whose children are undergoing organ transplants. The foundation also promotes organ donor awareness.