“Dear friends,” 15 Grammy Award-winner David Foster calls them, “some of my favorite people in the world.” To you and me, however, they’re better known as Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban and Michael Bublé. The gilded trio leads a parade of entertainers nurtured by the Canadian-born producer, honoring him in a gala concert this December on PBS (check local listings).
Recorded live in performance at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center, Hitman: David Foster & Friends features Foster himself presiding center stage at the keyboard. The evening is a virtual jukebox worth of songs written by and/or produced by him. Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and brother Kevon offer “I Swear;” Brian McKnight revisits Earth, Wind and Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone;” former Chicago front man Peter Cetera gets down with “Hard to Say I’m Sorry,” “You’re the Inspiration” and “Glory of Love;” while Boz Scaggs reprises “Look What You’ve Done to Me” from Urban Cowboy.
Neatly arcing Foster’s remarkable 35-year career, other highlights range from early hits like St. Elmo’s Fire Love Theme, recalled here by Kenny G; and “Man in Motion,” performed by American Idol hottie Michael Johns, through foot stompin’ disco with Cheryl Lynn’s “Got to Be Real,” to the neo-jazz swing of Michael Bublé’s “Feeling Good.”
Also look for American Idol’s Katharine McPhee soloing on “Somewhere” then joining Italian tenor Bocelli for “The Prayer”; Bocelli’s silky “Amapola”; Bublé and Country’s Blake Shelton duetting to Bublé’s “Home,” and new Foster discovery William Joseph at the keyboard for “Asturias.” And if Josh Groban brings the house down with signatures “Bridge Over Troubled Water” (in duet with Brian McKnight) and “You Raise Me Up,” Scene Stealer Award would have to go to 16-year-old power-house Charice, from the Philippines. Best known in America for her appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, she stuns both audience and Foster with the Whitney Houston-by-way-of-Dolly Parton hit “I Will Always Love You.”
“A star is born tonight,” a genuinely startled Foster exclaims – a man who knows whereof he speaks. Over the past 35 years, he has amassed among his 15 Grammys three for producer of the year. He has also been nominated a whopping 44 times. He has produced hits with everyone from Natalie Cole to Celine Dion, from Barbra Streisand to the Corrs, Madonna to Chicago. He has also overseen such blockbuster soundtracks as The Bodyguard, Footloose and Ghostbusters.
More recently, he has created his own label, 143 (I Love You) Records, in partnership with Warner Brothers, where he’s developing the careers of Groban, Bublé and McPhee, to name just a few lustrous protégés.
Featuring pre-recorded segments with Dion and Foster offering “Because You Loved Me” and a special appreciation from Streisand (“David, thanks for spending part of your musical life with me”), Hitman: David Foster & Friends is a co-production of Chartmaker Records, Inc., Thirteen/WNET New York and Align Entertainment Group LLC. Also available on DVD from Warner Brothers Home Video, it is directed by David Horn and co-produced by Horn and Mitch Owgang. David Foster is Executive Producer.
“I’m grateful for my musical past,” says the still-youthful Foster, 58, who began playing the piano at age 5 and enrolled in the University of Washington’s summer music program at 13. “And I have great anticipation about the musical adventures waiting to reveal themselves in the future. I’m one happy, fortunate and lucky guy.”
GREAT PERFORMANCES is funded by the Irene Diamond Fund, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, public television viewers, and PBS.