With a career spanning forty-five years, he touches on everything from entertaining children’s audiences to dealing with the grief of losing his sister and father at a young age in this intimate conversation.
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. A devoted father of four, 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 (equivalent of a Grammy) for Best Children’s Album, Fred Penner’s Place (1985) and Sing with Fred (2004) 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 more than 900 episodes in 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 Nickelodeon’s Nick Jr.. Always building on a common theme rooted in integrity and a “belief in what I can do” he has created a lasting impact that crosses the generations and continues to grow.
From the small screen to the live stage; from writing songs to composing scores; this seasoned performer’s ability to blend his considerable talents has garnered critical acclaim and a host of awards.
In 2000, the Canadian Institute of Child Health honoured Fred for his contribution to the well-being and safety of children. He is also a humble recipient of the Order of Canada, the highest recognition given to a Canadian citizen and the Order of Manitoba, a similar award from his home province. One of his albums, Happy Feet was named Best Children’s Album of the Year by the U.S.A’s Entertainment Weekly and he is the first ever winner of the Prairie Music Award for Outstanding Children’s Recording.
His visibility has allowed him the privilege and joy of using his voice to “bring something of value” as a spokesperson for organizations like UNESCO, World Vision, UNICEF and the National Conference on Down Syndrome. In 2005, Fred journeyed to Zambia, Africa with World Vision to host a program for Child Sponsorship in the Western World.
A humanitarian always conscious of the “delicate balance required to create a positive influence that fosters healthy self-esteem in the life of a child”, his work is infused with a steadfast commitment to communicating with children and families in a clear, non-condescending way. “More than just fun”, this multi-talented artist has the wisdom and humility to know that the importance and the meaning of what he does can reach deeply into the lives of others.
Read more about Fred and follow him on social media HERE.
Some resources for loss and grief:
For bereaved parents: https://tcfcanada.net/articles-2/the-bereaved-parent/
Find some resources related to alcohol abuse here: https://www.ccsa.ca/