At a recent keynote address to an early childhood education conference, acclaimed family, entertainer, singer/songwriter, composer, actor, writer, author, TV host and keynote speaker Fred Penner delivered a simple, yet powerful message. “Never underestimate your ability to make a difference in the life of a child.”
A gentle giant with kind eyes and an undeniable ability to make you feel good about yourself, this musical master brings 25 years of commitment, consistency and depth to a career that skillfully blends the many genres of performing and communication. Dubbed “Mr. Multi-Media” by Billboard Magazine, his diverse repertoire includes a prolific 12 Children’s Albums, countless energetically packed live shows for throngs of eager audiences across North America, composing the music for APTN/YTV’s Tipi Tales, and writing the score and hosting the TV documentary The Simple Way (focused on the relevant, world-wide topic of voluntary simplicity). He has, without a doubt, established himself as a fundamental part of the North American family entertainment scene. And whether it’s through CDs, videos, books or television, his cornerstone philosophy remains the same: absolute trust that his work can make a difference.
The first children’s entertainer to headline at the Los Angeles Amphitheater, this four-time recipient of the Parents’ Choice Award and the man Los Angeles Parent called the “Canadian Minister of Positivity” has successfully transformed children’s entertainment into a family affair. Offering his broad talents to speak to the family unit and express his feelings about where the world is going and what children are learning. A devoted father of four and husband of 25 years who describes meeting his wife Odette as “love at first sight”, Fred credits her dream to start a children’s dance theatre program as the catalyst that propelled him into this career. Lessons learned through the challenges and rewards of parenthood are translated into all that he does.
His pre-music experience working with troubled youth set the stage for what was to come; providing an understanding of the trauma of child abuse and the ability of music to heal. Those learnings, along with the untimely passing of his 12- year-old sister with Down’s Syndrome and subsequent passing of his father a year later, sparked a period of deep soul-searching and life-changing decisions. Inspired by his sister’s pure love of music, the man who had planned to become an economist, made a choice to become a performer. Lucky for us, he did.
More than the music, the two-time Juno winner (the equivalent of a Grammy) for Best Children’s Album Sing with Fred and eight-time nominee’s body of work is about energy and emotional connection. The guy who crawled magically out of that hollow log for 12 seasons and nearly 900 episodes on the hit CBC TV show Fred Penner’s Place receives fan mail to this day from some of the 55 million American viewers where the show ran for four years on the U.S.’s