David Foster Leads an Intimate Kennedy Center Gala

 

 

From artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com:
By ASHLEY SOUTHALL and EMMARIE HUETTEMAN

WASHINGTON — The lights were low in the concert hall of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Sunday evening — except for a spotlight scouring the room in search of the elusive host of the spring gala. Moments before, a video reel had flashed clips of the No. 1 hits he has written or produced over nearly four decades in the music business, prompting applause, murmurs of recognition and even a little singing from those in the audience. In his introduction, the center’s chairman, David M. Rubenstein, had called him “the ultimate music man and the ultimate hit man.”

But where was the man of the evening, David Foster?

“I’m here!” he shouted from among the orchestra seats, breaking an awkward silence and shaking hands as he made his way to the stage.

Among a long roster of accomplishments that includes winning 16 Grammys, Mr. Foster, 62, is the man who produced Whitney Houston’s biggest hits from the 1992 film “The Bodyguard,” paired Natalie Cole with her father’s voice for a rerecording of “Unforgettable” and discovered Josh Groban and Michael Bublé. He is currently the chairman of Verve Music Group.

Playing to an audience of about 2,400 at the center’s annual gala, Mr. Foster struck a casual, intimate tone, worrying aloud that he might say the wrong thing and interacting with the stray audience member who chose the wrong moment to find the restroom. But that only seemed to please the audience more, who applauded appreciatively to his tales of the three ex-wives living on the spoils of his success, his way of introducing the songs that made him famous.

In addition to running through the highlights of his career — including songs like Cheryl Lynn’s “Got To Be Real,” Earth, Wind & Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone” and Whitney Houston’s version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” — Mr. Foster performed with a few famous friends, including Chaka Khan, Jewel and Peter Cincotti. The trumpeter Chris Botti, the violinist Caroline Campbell and the soprano Angel Blue also performed.

Fitting for an evening intended to raise money for arts education, Mr. Foster highlighted lesser-known artists. Among his guest stars were FernandoVarela, a Puerto Rican tenor he discovered on YouTube, and Bárbara Padilla, a Mexican-American soprano and a cancer survivor, who was runner-up on the fourth season of “America’s Got Talent.”

“I came to the United States looking for a second opinion, but I ended up with a scholarship to the University of Houston,” Ms. Padilla, who is in remission from Hodgkins lymphoma, said as she took the stage. “One thing led to another, and here I am.”

But Mr. Foster was still on the lookout for new talent, sweeping through the audience in search of participants for what he called “Kennedy Center Idol.” And if his theatrics are to be believed, then he just happened to pluck from the audience Schatar Sapphira, a reality show actress and aspiring singer, who belted out a few bars of “Summertime” from the Gershwins’ opera “Porgy and Bess.”

Mr. Foster and friends also performed with the United States Military Wives Choir, a group of about 40 women whose husbands are active servicemen or military veterans.

“Film this, put it up and send it viral, because we want to get the message out that we support our men and women wherever they are,” he said, urging the audience to break out their smartphones. “It’s not political, it’s just support.”

The one-night fund-raiser, which closed with a performance of Mr. Groban’s “You Raise Me Up” featuring the Children’s Chorus of Maryland and the Bryn Mawr School Choir, brought in $2.4 million for the center’s arts, outreach and education programs, Mr. Rubenstein said.

 

 

Kennedy Center Spring Gala celebrates hitmaker David Foster

 

 

By Jacqueline Trescott – Washington Post

David Foster, a 16-time Grammy winner whose awards include Record of the Year for the late Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” has worked with the best in the record business.
David Foster, the record producer will be celebrated at the Kennedy Center Spring Gala.

A few of those headliners will appear with the music producer and composer at the Kennedy Center Spring Gala, the center announced Thursday. The 20-year-old gala has had a variety of themes and the 2012 one is “An Evening with David Foster and Friends.”

Look for Barry Manilow, Chris Botti, Jewel and Peter Cincotti.

The funds raised at the gala support the center’s education and outreach programs and its performances. Tickets to attend the concert are $35-$150.

Foster also won a Record of the Year Grammy for Natalie and Nat King Cole’s “Unforgettable.” And he has worked with Michael Buble, Josh Groban, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand.

Elton John, Jennifer Hudson and More Performing at Agassi’s Grand Slam for Children

 

Andre Agassi

 

From AceShowBiz.com:

The star-studded gala held at Las Vegas’ Wynn Hotel and Casino has raised more than $8 million with all proceed benefiting Andre Agassi’s charities.

Some big stars have been pictured taking the stage of Wynn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas over the weekend. Elton John, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Mraz, Peter Cincotti, Canadian Tenors, Bill Cosby and Rob Thomas came to the event that night.

Wearing floor-length purple gown, Hudson shared stage with David Foster in one set and was joined by AJ Green in another. Their performances were part of Andre Agassi Foundation for Education’s 15th Grand Slam for Children benefit concert.

Held on Saturday night, October 9, the charity gig raised more than $8 million. Those who sat at the front rows during the gala event paid $8,500 each and behind them, there were people who paid from $1,000 to $4,000 for one seat. During his set, Rob Thomas jokingly addressed people at the front row as the “wealthy” and those sitting behind them as the “rich.”

A kiss from Steffi Graf was worth $25,000, someone paid $75,000 for a vacation in India including lunch with Freida Pinto of “Slumdog Millionaire”, $60,000 cheque was donated in return of swimming lessons from Michael Phelps, and many other donations. All proceeds went to Agassi’s charities which include a public charter school for at-risk youth in Los Angeles.

“I am both impressed and thankful for the tremendous support we have gotten for this milestone, the 15th Grand Slam,” Agassi said. “From the incredible group of artists who gave their time and talents, to the generosity of Genworth Financial and all of our supporters, this is a proud moment for us. The success of the event allows us to make a positive difference in students’ lives as we work to transform education.”

Interview: David Foster betting on trust factor

 

David Foster

 

From Las Vegas Review Journal:

No Groban this time. No Bocelli or Buble either.

David Foster is the first to recognize last year’s “David Foster & Friends” will be hard to top. That was a one-of-a-kind event, with nearly a dozen guest singers filmed for a DVD (“Hit Man”) and PBS pledge drives.

It’s impossible to have those big names “go with me every time I want to do this,” the hit-making record producer points out. However, Saturday’s encore at Mandalay Bay finds him trying to build his own name into a brand, one “people would want to come and see no matter who my friends are.”

“In a perfect world, as the record business shrinks and I don’t want to retire, I think this might be a good Round Three for me to perform,” Foster says. “I’m just hoping my music will be the glue, along with my personality and my way of presenting it.”

It’s more than wishful thinking if you saw last year’s concert. And not just because this time, the TV cameras will be gone, and with them the irritating down time and do-overs that stretched the event beyond the three-hour mark.

Of all the star power last year, the big surprise of the night was an unknown 16-year-old Filipina named Charice, belting out “I Will Always Love You.”

On Saturday, Charice returns as a billed performer poised for stardom. Last week, she and Foster visited “The Oprah Winfrey Show” for the anointment of her debut single, “Note to God.” (The show airs May 18, the day the single will be released to digital outlets.)

Foster hopes this year’s audience will take the leap of faith with him and come along for the next new singer he introduces along with the billed stars: Earth, Wind & Fire singer Philip Bailey, Brian McKnight, Peter Cincotti and Heather Headley.

“I do have a little surprise that’s not announced,” he also teases.

Las Vegas audiences have a head start on the trust factor if they attended any installment of the Andre Agassi “Grand Slam for Children” that Foster spearheaded for years. Patrons of those benefits got early looks at Josh Groban, Michael Buble and Charlotte Church, performing alongside the likes of Elton John, Stevie Wonder and Celine Dion.

“I sort of discovered late in my life that I do have a talent for finding talent,” Foster says, before amending that to say, “They usually find me.”

He also has learned, “You can win a crowd over more with an unknown, if it’s presented right and if they kill.”

Agassi supporters also watched Foster issue random challenges to audience members to come up and sing, a stunt he plans to repeat on Saturday.

“There’s always somebody who wants to be a star. That person usually wins bigger than any A-list celebrity you have,” he says. “If they have the balls to get up there, chances are they’re either really good or really bad. And both work.”

Foster’s star began to emerge when he co-wrote and produced the 1982 Chicago hit “Hard To Say I’m Sorry.” For two decades, he dominated the pop charts with hits such as Toni Braxton’s “Unbreak My Heart” and Celine Dion’s “To Love You More.”

Now the Top 40 is dominated by hip-hop, which Foster respects, but knows is not his game. “I just clearly don’t know how to make that kind of music,” he says. “By some stretch, I should just be out to pasture.”

But he also notes, “Pop stands for popular, and I still make popular music. … Everybody’s trying to be hip, and yet you’ve got this show ‘American Idol,’ and what do they do all year to get 37 million people to watch? They do Barry Manilow songs. They do Burt Bacharach. They do David Foster songs.

“People don’t leave the music business. The music business leaves them. And I don’t want to be one of those guys,” he says. “I’m happy for everyone that’s doing it. I just want my little slice to stay where it is, and I’m happy.”

David Foster and Friends, May 9 at the Mandalay Bay

 

David Foster and Friends

 

David Foster & Friends Live In Concert
Mandalay Bay Resort
Las Vegas, NV
Sat, May 9, 2009 08:00 PM

Back by popular demand, a concert celebration featuring music’s premier songwriter and producer David Foster will take place Saturday, May 9 at the Mandalay Bay Events Center. The event will pay tribute to the 15-time Grammy winner and will feature Clay Aiken, Philip Bailey from the chart-topping band Earth, Wind & Fire, Brian McKnight, Peter Cincotti and Oprah Winfrey’s protégé, Charice. Foster also will perform some of the hits he has written or produced during his 40-year musical career. The event is scheduled to begin at 8 p.m.