Fred Pen­ner gets some mu­si­cal help from friends

The Hamilton Spectator - - A&E - THE CANA­DIAN PRESS TORONTO -

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

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