has been a premier children’s entertainer
in North America
for over 25 years. He's recognized internationally as an exceptional artist whose powerful music resonates with family values
and imaginative style.
A native of Canada
, growing up in Hull, Quebec
, he often made up his own songs as a child, and after teaching himself how to play the guitar
, regularly performed in school choirs and pageant
During the 1970s Fred did a lot of theatrical training including serious drama
, ritual dance
work. Fred explored a variety of musical and theatrical genres, including a stint
on the live performance circuit with his comedic folk/rock band, Kornstalk, which also featured Juno-award winning children's entertainer AI Simmons
In 1977, Fred met choreographer and future wife Odette Heyn
, with whom he started a children’s dance theatre company.
In 1979, after a performance, he was approached by a member of the audience, who was so impressed by Fred’s talent and charisma that he offered to finance an album of his music. Fred accepted the generous offer, which resulted in the classic album, "The Cat Came Back
". It launched his career and established him as a premiere family entertainer.
In 1985 Fred began hosting his own children’s show on CBC called "Fred Penner’s Place
". Kids of the 80’s will recall the opening of the show where Fred would crawl through a hollow log
and into the forest
where the show was set. There was also the Word Bird
who would appear each day with a new word, which was somehow related to the thin plot of the episode. And that mouse in the treehouse that I barely remember. The show lasted for 12 seasons on the CBC
and was seen in 55 million American homes in its four year run on Nickelodeon
Fred collaborated on a show called "In My Backyard
" for planetarium
s. It has played across North America for a number of years can still be seen. Throughout the show Fred and his helper, Arnie the Arrow
, explore things found in Fred’s backyard: from ladybugs and the colours of the rainbow, to stories about the constellations
and the reason for the season
Fred Penner was also the host of a television series that focused on what may well be the most-talked about topic all across North America - Voluntary Simplicity
. The Simple Way
, a 12-episode television series focused on the importance of putting simplicity back into our lives
In December 2002 Fred played the narrator in the Ross Petty production of "Snow White
and the Magnificent Seven
". The performance ran for 5 weeks at Toronto
’s Elgin Theatre
Fred has put out 12 albums since 1980, with record sales over the million-unit mark. His latest album, "Sing with Fred" (released September
2002), is his first CD in six years. The new disc includes bonus karaoke
tracks and lyrics for most of the songs on the album.
Fred has also released numerous videos, an interactive CD-ROM, and has written several children’s books. He has become known internationally and is one of the most popular children’s entertainers in the world.
He’s received many honours, awards and accolades throughout his career, including:
- A Juno Award for "Fred Penner’s Place", and eight other Juno Award nominations.
- He has received 4 Parents’ Choice Awards, most recently the Parents’ Choice Recommended Award (Winter 2002 Audio category) for "Sing with Fred".
- He was honoured by the Canadian Institute of Child Health in 1999 for his contribution to the safety and well-being of children.
- Fred won the first-ever Prairie Music Award for Outstanding Children's Recording in 1999.
- The Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada (SOCAN) have named Fred most performed children’s entertainer three times since 1996.
- Fred was presented with an honourary doctor of laws degree from The University of Winnipeg in 1995.
- In 1992 Fred had the honour of being named recipient of the Order of Canada, the highest recognition bestowed on a Canadian citizen.
- His album Happy Feet was named Best Children’s Album of the Year, by Entertainment Weekly in 1992.
- In 1990 Fred was the first children’s entertainer to headline at the Los Angeles Amphitheater and the Mayor of Los Angeles declared May 12th, 1990 "Fred Penner Day".
- He has also been the spokesperson for Safe Kids Canada, and in past years Fred has been national spokesperson for UNICEF.
- Dubbed "Mr. Multimedia" by Billboard Magazine.
- Dubbed the "Canadian Minister of Positivity" by Los Angeles Parent magazine.
Cat Came Back (1980)
Polka Dot Pony (1981)
Special Delivery (1983)
House for Me (1985)
One, Two, Tree Pack
Happy Feet (1992?)
The Season...A Family Christmas Celebration
Fred Penner's Place
What a Day! (1997)
Sing with Fred (2002)
The Animal Boogie
, Barefoot Books; 2002 (a dance and sing along story book and CD).
Growing with Fred
Fred Penner’s Sing Along, Play Along Song & Activity Book
, McGraw-Hill Reyerson, 1990
Fred Penner’s Place: Growing (1996)
Fred Penner’s Place: Invisible Friends
Fred Penner’s Place: Me too
Fred Penner’s Place: Nikki’s Beach Party
Fred Penner’s Place: Penelope’s ABC
Fred Penner’s Place: Sleeping Beauty
The Biggest Little Ticket: A Birthday Celegration
Cat Came Back: Live Concert Video
Other facts about Fred:
- His sister Susie had Down’s Syndrome.
- Graduated from university with a degree in economics and psychology.
- He’s 6’2”, 200lbs.
- Taught himself how to play guitar by the age of 14.
- His touring band is called "The Cat’s Meow Band"
As many people pointed out, I should have kept a list of my sources. Although I used quite a few (10+), here's the few I can recall:
Watching Fred Penner's Place as a kid.