B.C.-native David Foster has become one of the most successful music producers and composers in the world as well as a famously generous philanthropist.
Foster was born in Victoria on November 1, 1949. His musical career started early, with piano lessons at age five that led to enrollment in the University of Washington’s music program at thirteen. By age 16 he was playing piano with Chuck Berry, and had a Top 10 US hit (“Wildflower”) with his band Skylark in 1973. The band’s success did not last, though, and when the other members decided to return to Canada, Foster decided to stay in Los Angeles.
An early job saw him playing keyboards in the orchestra pit at The Roxy Theatre’s production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Foster became an in-demand session musician around this time, working for the likes of George Harrison, John Lennon and Barbara Streisand. He started producing in 1976, with early clients including Alice Cooper, Boz Scaggs and Carol Bayer Sager.
Foster became a protégé of superstar producer Quincy Jones, who advised him not to put his name to any project that did not measure up to his standards, and established a reputation nearly as stellar as his mentor’s by the early ‘80s.
That is when the hits started coming, among them Chicago’s “A Hard Habit to Break,” The Tubes’ “She’s a Beauty,” and John Parr’s “St. Elmo’s Fire (Man in Motion).” He was also the driving force behind “Tears Are Not Enough,” the Canadian equivalent of Band Aid’s “Do They Know It’s Christmas?”
The ‘90s brought Foster even greater successes. He co-produced Unison (1990), Celine Dion’s English-language debut and commercial breakthrough, and The Bodyguard soundtrack, including Whitney Houston’s #1 smash, “I Will Always Love You.” Foster would reunite with Dion on her chart-topping cover of the Jennifer Rush song, “The Power of Love,” and go on to work with the likes of Michael Jackson, Madonna, Toni Braxton and Mariah Carey.
The 2000s saw him working on the debuts of Josh Groban and Michael Bublé, co-writing with his daughter Amy Foster-Gillies, and producing the likes of Diana Krall, Mary J. Blige and Whitney Houston’s final album.
Foster has also had his hands on a number of well-received Christmas albums by the likes of Groban, Bublé, Rod Stewart, Andrea Bocelli, Blige and Dion.
His time is also well spent working on a number of charitable projects. Founded in 1986, the David Foster Foundation helps relieve the financial burden put on Canadian families with a child undergoing a life-saving organ transplant. Foster also co-wrote and co-produced the Destiny’s Child song, “Stand Up for Love” to raise awareness of World Children’s Day in 2005.
Foster’s career successes have been recognized with 16 Grammies, three Oscar nominations, a Golden Globe and five JUNO awards. He has been inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame (2007) and the Canadian Songwriters Hall of Fame (2010), and been given the Order of Canada (1998) and Order of British Columbia (1995). He has been recognized with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame (2013), and the Berklee College of Music bestowed him with an Honorary Doctorate of Music in 2002.
Produced Whitney Houston’s #1 smash, “I Will Always Love You”
Inducted into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame
Given a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame