David Foster discusses how he discovers future music superstars

David Foster and Jackie Evancho

Robin Leach – www.vegasdeluxe.com

When hit-maker David Foster presents the second of his three monthly Mandalay Bay concerts Friday night, he’s going to introduce two unknown singers he believes will be America’s next superstars, just as he did when he ran a talent contest in Pennsylvania in 2008 and discovered tiny Jackie Evancho. She has become such a recording giant that she will co-star with him at his third concert here in December.

With David, you always get surprise guests on top of the announced lineup. This Friday, he presents “Glee” favorite Charice, Chaka Khan, Paul Anka and Philip Bailey of Earth Wind & Fire, plus the two he believes will deliver knockout performances.

In an exclusive interview, David told me: “This is actually now my fifth time at Mandalay Bay. I’m loving it. Philip has the voice of Earth, Wind & Fire and my favorite band of all time. We just toured Asia together, and he just knocked it out of the park every night, so I’m so excited. And when you look at their songs and their hits, Philip has had so many, it’s just phenomenal. Chaka Khan has the voice that I always wanted to write songs for. Charice has the voice of the next everybody.

 



 

“We’ve done this ‘Born to Sing USA’ competition, and we’ll have a couple of great winners come out and sing. I’m going to add some video to this show, which I haven’t done before — highlights of my career and all the different stars that will be kind of unique. I just talked to my friend Paul Anka, I think he’s going to make a guest appearance, and maybe a couple people like that, so it’s always exciting. I think the people honestly always get their money’s worth. I like the notion of giving people something that they just couldn’t buy in a show that has all this diversity of entertainment.

“That’s my goal. My ultimate goal is that it will be ‘David Foster and Friends,’ and you won’t even have to ask who’s there. You’ll just go ‘well, it’s David Foster and Friends,’ that means it will be really good and packed with solid singers and musicians.”

When David appeared here six weeks ago, he stepped out from the background for the first time of just being the piano player and music arranger to star as himself. “It went great. I cut my teeth sort of on the Andre Agassi events I did all those years that I hosted in Vegas, and that prompted ‘David Foster and Friends.’ It feels very natural to me, and I’m out front for all time now.”

“However, for the third show next month, which is Christmas, with Jackie she’s going to carry a lot of the show. People just love her. She’s carrying the whole show herself, she’s so professional, she’s so adult, so mature, so seasoned. For me, it’s just going to be basically playing her album, and we might do some Christmas songs. I’ll do a little Christmas stuff maybe, in Friday’s show, that would be fun. I don’t want to say I’m riding her coattails, but she’s very comfortable doing it on her own, too. She is absolutely amazing, so we’ll have fun out there. I’ve never seen anything like it ever, Robin, nothing. She’s phenomenal.

“The first time I met her was when I held a singing contest, on my last American tour, she was 8. I had two singers in every city come up, and she was one of the two in Pennsylvania. She got up on stage and blew everybody’s mind. Unfortunately, she was up against a 19-year-old big, big singer, like a(n) (Andrea) Bocelli kind of singer, and Jackie at that time was doing a pop song, not her opera stuff, or her popera stuff, and he came out with a big song and won. But you know, that only made her better.

“I knew then that she was going to go onto something huge. I was blown away with her then. I remember meeting her family, I remember meeting her on the stage, she was 8 years old. She’s already amazing, and yet she’s still developing vocally. From the time we started making her record, there was a 4-month span, and at the end, it’s almost like I wanted her to re-sing everything because the one thing you can’t have when you’re 10 years old is you don’t have the lung capacity, the power, to do the money notes, hang on them and get louder with them. And by the end of the 4 months, her lungs had developed, and she’d really become amazing. Wait till you hear her next month. Beyond belief — a megastar! “

David is currently enjoying not only Jackie’s album success but also his pal Michael Buble’s Christmas album he produced. New Caesars Palace headliner Shania Twain sang a “White Christmas” duet on it. When David starts as the senior A&R executive at Universal Records in December, he plans to dig deeper with Shania’s talents.

“To the extent that she would want to do something with me, I’d love to do it with her, but I’m not exactly the perfect person for her, but we have a great mutual respect,” said David, pouring water on speculation he could be tapped to produce part of her 2012 Caesars show. “But we are doing a show together in April, so we see what happens,” he laughed as I pointed out all three of them are Canadians!

“Michael’s Christmas album was just released, and it’s just flying. It sold 143,000 copies in the first week. I think it’s going to do 5 million worldwide. Just huge. He’s owning it these days, I don’t know anybody else that can take that slot from him. I don’t think anybody in our lifetime is going to take that away. He’s all on his own.”

I had to ask David, who is known for his uncanny knack in finding extraordinary unknown talent, if he worried about not finding more because so many are being discovered by “X Factor,” “American Idol,” “America’s Got Talent” and “The Voice.”

“That’s actually a great, great question, but I think the shows probably encourage more people to get out there and enter anything they can. But ‘X Factor’ and ‘The Voice’ can’t be right all the time, so they’re going to miss some great ones. That means they’re going to let some great ones go in the Top 10 that shouldn’t have, so I think there is a plethora out there. I think there’s great talent in every nook and cranny of this Earth.

“I just did ‘Born to Sing Asia’ on our Asian tour, and we had some phenomenal singers, one of whom was a 15-year-old Indonesian girl who sang like Sarah Brightman, and I’m actually thinking of bringing her back here to the States — she was amazing. The two kids who entered in ‘Born to Sing USA’ will perform Friday, and they are just as amazing. The future superstars are out there just waiting for their shot.

“I can’t tell instantaneously that they’ve got ‘it,’ but what I can tell instantaneously is whether they can really sing or not. It’s the only thing I know. I don’t know if they’re a star, I don’t know if they are going to have hit records, I don’t know if they can, all I know is whether they can definitively sing or not. Being just a singer doesn’t make them a star or sell records. Being a singer does not guarantee anything other than you’re good.

“I could have never known that Michael Buble was a great songwriter. The first night when I saw him, and dragged him back to L.A., I could have never known. When I first saw Celine (Dion), all those years ago, I could have never known that she would become the polished superstar — all I knew was that I was seeing greatness. It’s a fascinating process. I think Simon Cowell and L.A. Reid have great eyes for talent — they have it figured out.”

After David’s show here Friday night, he gets ready to take part in the Dec. 8 opening at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles of “Story of a Voice,” a one-of-a-kind, limited-time exhibit of his friend and recording artist Andrea Bocelli. The exhibit runs through Feb. 12. On Dec. 9, the tenor operatic sensation launches his Andrea Bocelli Foundation with a gala dinner and performance at the Beverly Hilton Hotel starring David along with Tony Award winner Heather Headley, soprano Anna Maria Martinez and, as usual, some of David’s “Friends.” On Dec. 10, Andrea flies here for his third consecutive holiday appearance at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

David summed up: “I really enjoy playing Las Vegas. It’s always a great time, and for our next two shows, we’ve really got the best in store for our fans.”

David Foster brings friends to Newark for hit-filled concert

 

David Foster

 

From NJ.com:

By Jay Lustig/The Star-Ledger
October 25, 2009, 1:29PM

The tour is called “David Foster and Friends.” And after more than 30 years as one of the pop world’s most successful songwriter-producers, Foster has plenty of friends to call on.

Peter Cetera (formerly of Chicago) and Philip Bailey (of Earth, Wind and Fire) were there when the tour hit the Prudential Center in Newark, Saturday. So were Deborah Cox, “American Idol” alumni Ruben Studdard and Michael Johns, and the quartet, the Canadian Tenors. But the closing slot went to a woman who has not released an album in the United States yet: Charice, a 17-year-old from the Philippines who is well known her own country, and is being mentored by Foster for worldwide stardom.

She has a big voice and, like another Foster protege, Celine Dion, projects a sense of steely determination when she sings. In this show, she was called on to belt out songs Foster has produced and/or co-written for divas Dion (“The Power of Love”) and Whitney Houston (“I Will Always Love You,” “I Have Nothing”), as well as her own Foster-produced single, “Note To God.” Her poise and vocal command were impressive, especially in light of her youth. She ended her memorable mini-set with “I Will Survive,” one of the few songs in the show that Foster didn’t write or produce.

As expected, it was an evening of clean-cut, immaculately crafted pop music. Foster never has been hip, but his knack for helping singers make the most of their talents — two of his recent finds are Josh Groban and Michael Buble — is beyond question.

Foster, 59, served as the show’s amiable host, and accompanied everyone on piano. At several points, he emphasized that this was the third show of his first tour, ever.

Johns sang two of Foster’s rock hits: “She’s a Beauty” and “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion),” recorded by the Tubes and John Parr, respectively. The show’s three backing vocalists, meanwhile, tackled the “West Side Story” ballad “Somewhere” (which Foster produced for Barbra Streisand) and “Got To Be Real,” his disco hit with Cheryl Lynn.

Studdard stood in for Al Jarreau (the swinging “Mornin'”) and All-4-One (the earnest “I Swear”), and brought a touch of blues grit to “Home,” a hit for both Buble and country singer Blake Shelton.

Cetera and Bailey sang some of the buttery pop-soul hits they have made with Foster, and also briefly touched on their non-Foster history — Bailey with an excerpt from “Easy Lover,” Cetera with “If You Leave Me Now.”

Foster will soon embark on his second tour, joining Andrea Bocelli to perform songs from Bocelli’s upcoming, Foster-produced holiday album, “My Christmas.” Stops will include the Izod Center in East Rutherford, Dec. 5.
 
Michael Johns singing “Man In Motion”David Foster and Friends NJ 10/24


 
Peter Cetera “Hard to Say I’m Sorry” at David Foster NYC 10/23


 
Michael Johns and Peter Cetera Hard Habit to Break


 
David Foster playing St. Elmo’s Fire theme song


 
David Foster and Friends: Ruben Studdard – I Swear


 
David Foster and Friends: Ruben Studdard – Home


 
David Foster and Friends (Chicago): Charice – Bodyguard Medley


 
David Foster & Friends (BOSTON): Charice – Somewhere Over The Rainbow


 
David Foster & Friends: Canadian Tenors – Halleluiah


 
David Foster & Friends (BOSTON): Charice – Note to God


 
David Foster & Friends (BOSTON): Charice – The Power of Love


 
Deborah Cox and Cody Karey “The Prayer” @ David Foster & Friends concert 2009 w/ Charice


 
David Foster and Friends – America’s Song – Boston 10/25/09


 
David Foster and Friends (New Jersey): Charice – “I Will Survive”


 
Deborah Cox – “Un-break My Heart” – David Foster & Friends Concert Tour, Chicago


 
Deborah Cox – “Through The Fire” – David Foster & Friends Concert Tour, Chicago


 

David Foster and Friends U.S. and Canadian Tour Dates Announced

 

David Foster

 

NEW YORK – (Business Wire) Famed musical showman, producer and songwriter David Foster and some of his talented friends will be embarking on a 10-city tour of “David Foster and Friends” starting in Chicago on October 21st, including stops in New York, Boston, LA, Vancouver, Miami and other markets, it was confirmed today by Warner Bros. Records. In addition to such artists as Philip Bailey from the chart-topping Earth, Wind and Fire, Oprah protégé Charice, Chicago’s Peter Cetera and American Idol’s Michael Johns, fans can expect surprise visits at every show.

Foster, who has an unparalleled four-decade career producing, writing, discovering and nurturing some of the greatest talents in music, has added a special event to the “Foster and Friends Show” – a HIT MAN Talent Search for emerging artists that will take place in each city. Talent in each market will compete to be the next mega-artist by submitting video performances to NAMEDROP.COM. Following the pre-selection, radio and TV stations in their markets will air the selected video/audio clips and viewers/listeners will vote for the two finalists via station websites. The two finalists get to perform with Foster in front of a live audience during the Foster and Friends Concert. The audience and Foster will choose the final winner, who will be flown to Vancouver on November 8th for a final showdown in Foster’s home town.

With one of Hollywood’s most impressive phone books, Foster has yet to reveal which guests might visit him on stage during the tour. “Cher and Donny Osmond both surprised me in Las Vegas so I think people won’t be disappointed. I can certainly say each show will be very special and loads of fun. You never know what’s going to happen with this much talent on stage,” commented Foster who performed two sold out shows at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas recently.

Foster, a 15-time Grammy winner whose PBS Great Performances Special, “David Foster and Friends” was the highest pledged PBS show in history, will perform with his friends some of the hits that have paved the way for the many artists that he has worked with over the years, including Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, Josh Groban, Celine Dion, Michael Bublé, Andrea Bocelli, Chaka Khan, Madonna, Chicago and The Corrs. Foster recently produced Seal’s critically acclaimed, “Soul” CD, Michael Bublé’s upcoming “Crazy Love” CD and a cut on Whitney Houston’s new CD. He is also in the studio with Oprah discovery Charice, who received five standing ovations during her recent performance in Las Vegas. David Foster’s current DVD/CD “Foster and Friends” is available on 143/Reprise Records.

Tour dates are as follows:

21-Oct Chicago, IL Wed Rosemont Theatre
23-Oct New York, NY Fri WaMu Theater at Madison Square Garden
24-Oct Newark, NJ Sat Prudential Center
25-Oct Boston, MA Sun Agganis Arena
28-Oct Atlanta, GA Wed Fox Theatre
30-Oct Tampa, FL Fri St. Pete Times Forum
1-Nov Hollywood, FL Sun Hard Rock Live
5-Nov Los Angeles, CA Thur Gibson Amphitheatre at Universal City Walk
6-Nov San Jose, CA Fri HP Pavilion
8-Nov Vancouver, BC Sun General Motors Place

Ticket prices are $125, $85 and $55 and can be purchased by logging on to http://www.ticketmaster.com/ or by calling 1-800-745-3000 (except for Vancouver, Canada, 604-280-4444, or http://www.ticketmaster.ca/).

Videos: David Foster and Friends – Mandalay Bay 5/9/09

 

Charice

 

Teenage star Charice Pempengco was one of the many performers who appeared at a concert organized by David Foster on Saturday, May 9.

The 17-year-old joined Cher, Clay Aiken, Donny Osmond, Brian McKnight and Paul Anka at the David Foster & Friends concert at the Mandalay Bay Events Center in Las Vegas to raise money for the David Foster Foundation, an organization established by the legendary composer and music producer in 1986 to provide financial and emotional help to the families of children needing organ transplants.

During the show, Charice thanked Foster and Oprah Winfrey for their help in her career.

“I would like to mention these people who are very special in my life,“ she said. “First, he is my fan, my producer, my mentor. He taught me a lot of things and of course he is my hero — David Foster. And of course I want to thank Oprah for believing in my dreams and of course believing in me. Thank you so much. I love you both.“

Foster has a long history of charitable efforts to help children. In 1997 he was honored with the United States Children’s Choice Award for his work supporting research into children’s cancer, leukemia, and AIDS.

 

David Foster and Friends – Mandalay Bay 5/9/09 videos from YouTube:
 

Intro:

 
Heather Headley – Unbreak My Heart:

 
Katherine Jenkins:

 
Charice – The Power Of Love:

 
Charice – I Will Survive:

 
Philip Bailey – In The Stone:

 
Philip Bailey – After The Love Is Gone:

 
Clay Aiken – Hard To Say I’m Sorry:

 
Brian McKnight – I Swear:

 
Brian McKnight – Mornin:

 
Charice – Bodyguard Medley:

 
Charice – All By Myself:

 
Clay Aiken – You’re The Inspiration:

 
America The Beautiful (Finale):

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.”