Fred Penner gets some musical help from friends
Fred Penner won his legendary status entertaining kids with “The Cat Came Back” and other favourites, but the singer says he’s considering an album for grown-ups.
“I’ve written songs along the way,” the 70-year-old performer said in a recent interview. “Not necessarily connecting with the world of a child. There is a little part of me that — at some point — I will release something else that has a deeper connection,” he said before letting out a hearty laugh.
Given his earliest fans are already well into their 30s, Penner said it makes sense to give them a collection of songs that speak to their current experiences with themes of “love and loss.”
With his recently released 13th album, “Hear the Music,” Penner is still playing within the boundaries of his usual work, but has partnered with a diverse group of fellow Canadian artists who rarely dabble in children’s music.
Ron Sexsmith, Basia Bulat, Terra Lightfoot, Alex Cuba and Afie Jurvanen — better known as the act Bahamas — are among the collaborators. He’s also brought in his son Damien Penner and daughter Hayley Gene to contribute on songs.
The singer-songwriter formed bonds within Canada’s indie rock world when he hosted the Polaris Music Prize gala in 2015. He ingratiated himself with his fellow musicians and fans when he delivered an unexpected medley of tunes from previous Polaris winners.
“It’s something that may not be expected from me. In a way I want the audience to know I’m more than a pretty face here.”
Penner credited his younger sister Susan, who had Down syndrome and couldn’t articulate words, as an inspiration for exploring his love for music.
His songs have typically focused on the brighter side of life, with an emphasis on “universal concepts” of friendship and teamwork.
Fred Penner’s Hear the Music