David Foster

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David Foster
David Foster by Gage Skidmore.jpg
Foster in 2017
Background information
Birth nameDavid Walter Foster
Born (1949-11-01) November 1, 1949 (age 69)
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Years active1971–present
Associated acts
Website davidfoster.com

David Walter Foster, OC, OBC (born November 1, 1949), is a Canadian musician, record producer, composer, songwriter, and arranger. He has been a producer for musicians including Chaka Khan, Alice Cooper, Christina Aguilera, Andrea Bocelli, Toni Braxton, Michael Bublé, Chicago, Natalie Cole, Celine Dion, Kenny G, Josh Groban, Brandy Norwood, Whitney Houston, Jennifer Lopez, Kenny Rogers, Seal, Rod Stewart, Jake Zyrus, Donna Summer, Olivia Newton-John, Madonna, Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, Peter Cetera, Cheryl Lynn, Blake Shelton and Barbra Streisand. Foster has won 16 Grammy Awards from 47 nominations. He was the chairman of Verve Records from 2012 to 2016. [1] [2]

Order of Canada Canadian national order

The Order of Canada is a Canadian national order and the second highest honour for merit in the system of orders, decorations, and medals of Canada. It comes second only to membership in the Order of Merit, which is the personal gift of Canada's monarch.

The Order of British Columbia is a civilian honour for merit in the Canadian province of British Columbia. Instituted in 1989 by Lieutenant Governor David Lam, on the advice of the Cabinet under Premier Bill Vander Zalm, the order is administered by the Governor-in-Council and is intended to honour current or former British Columbia residents for conspicuous achievements in any field, being thus described as the highest honour amongst all others conferred by the British Columbia Crown.

Record producer Individual who oversees and manages the recording of an artists music

A record producer or music producer oversees and manages the sound recording and production of a band or performer's music, which may range from recording one song to recording a lengthy concept album. A producer has many, varying roles during the recording process. They may gather musical ideas for the project, collaborate with the artists to select cover tunes or original songs by the artist/group, work with artists and help them to improve their songs, lyrics or arrangements.


Early life and career

Foster was born in Victoria, British Columbia, the son of Maurice (Morry) Foster, a maintenance yard superintendent, and Eleanor May (Vantreight) Foster, a homemaker. [3] [4] [5] In 1963, at the age of 13, he enrolled in the University of Washington music program. [6] In 1965 he auditioned to lead the band in an Edmonton nightclub owned by well known jazz musician Tommy Banks. Tommy mentored David in jazz, producing records, and music business. After a year there, he decided to move to Toronto to play with Ronnie Hawkins. In 1966, he joined a backup band for Chuck Berry. [6] [7] In 1974, he moved to Los Angeles with his band Skylark. [7]

Victoria, British Columbia Provincial capital city in British Columbia, Canada

Victoria is the capital city of the Canadian province of British Columbia, located on the southern tip of Vancouver Island off Canada's Pacific coast. The city has a population of 85,792, while the metropolitan area of Greater Victoria has a population of 367,770, making it the 15th most populous Canadian metropolitan area. Victoria is the 7th most densely populated city in Canada with 4,405.8 people per square kilometre, which is a greater population density than Toronto.

University of Washington Public research university in Seattle, Washington, United States

The University of Washington is a public research university in Seattle, Washington.

Ronnie Hawkins American musician

Ronald Hawkins, OC, is an American rock and roll musician whose career has spanned more than half a century. His career began in Arkansas, where he was born and raised. He found success in Ontario, Canada, and has lived there for most of his life. He is considered highly influential in the establishment and evolution of rock music in Canada.



Foster was a keyboardist for the pop group Skylark, discovered by Eirik Wangberg. The band's song "Wildflower" was a top ten hit in 1973. [8] When the band disbanded, Foster remained in Los Angeles [6] and together with Jay Graydon he formed the band Airplay, whose album of the same name is often labeled as important within the west coast AOR genre. In 1975, he played on George Harrison's album Extra Texture . He followed that up by playing the Fender Rhodes and clavinet on Harrison's album Thirty Three & 1/3 a year later. In 1976 Foster joined Guthrie Thomas on Thomas' second Capitol Records album, Lies and Alibis, with Ringo Starr and a host of many other famed performers. Foster was a major contributor to the 1979 Earth, Wind and Fire album I Am , as a studio player and arranger, as well as being a co-writer on six of the album's tracks. The most noteworthy being the song "After the Love Has Gone", for which Foster and his co-writers, Graydon and Bill Champlin, won the 1980 Grammy Award for Best R&B Song.

Popular music is music with wide appeal that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical training. It stands in contrast to both art music and traditional or "folk" music. Art music was historically disseminated through the performances of written music, although since the beginning of the recording industry, it is also disseminated through recordings. Traditional music forms such as early blues songs or hymns were passed along orally, or to smaller, local audiences.

Skylark was a former Canadian pop/rock band, active from 1971–1973, based in Vancouver, BC.

Wildflower (Skylark song) Skylark song

"Wildflower" is a song written by Doug Edwards and Dave Richardson in 1972. First performed by the Canadian band Skylark, it has been covered by many artists and more recently has been sampled in a number of hip hop songs.

Foster worked as an album producer on albums for The Tubes: 1981's The Completion Backward Principle , and 1983's Outside Inside . Foster cowrote such songs as "Talk to Ya Later" co-written with Tubes and Steve Lukather from Toto, the Top 40 hit "Don't Want to Wait Anymore," and the number 10 US hit "She's a Beauty". The 1980 Boz Scaggs album Middle Man saw Foster cowrite and play keyboard on some of Scaggs's most successful songs, including "Breakdown Dead Ahead", "Jojo", and "Simone", followed by "Look What You've Done to Me" from the film Urban Cowboy .

The Tubes American band

The Tubes are a San Francisco-based rock band. Their eponymous 1975 debut album included the single "White Punks on Dope," while their 1983 single "She's a Beauty" was a top-10 U.S. hit and its music video was frequently played in the early days of MTV. The band also performed in the 1980 film Xanadu, singing the rock portion of the cross-genre song "Dancin'" opposite a big band.

<i>The Completion Backward Principle</i> 1981 studio album by The Tubes

The Completion Backward Principle is the sixth studio album by the American rock group The Tubes. It is the group's first for Capitol Records. It was accompanied by a long form music video release of the same name, although it did not contain all of the songs from the album. It is a concept album presented as a motivational business document. The album contains two hit singles, "Don't Want to Wait Anymore" and "Talk to Ya Later."

<i>Outside Inside</i> (The Tubes album) 1983 studio album by The Tubes

Outside Inside is a 1983 album by The Tubes. It was the second album by the group to be released by Capitol Records. The album was produced by David Foster. The Tubes had their biggest radio hit with the single from this album "She's a Beauty".

Foster was a major contributor to Chicago's career in the early and middle 1980s, having worked as the band's producer on Chicago 16 (1982), their biggest-selling multi-platinum album Chicago 17 (1984), and Chicago 18 (1986). As was typical of his producing projects from this time period, Foster was a cowriter on songs such as the US Chart No. 1 hit "Hard to Say I'm Sorry", "Love Me Tomorrow" (US No. 22), "Stay the Night" (US No. 16), and "You're the Inspiration" (US No. 3). These four songs were cowritten with the band's bassist Peter Cetera. Foster also helped Cetera co-write (along with Cetera's wife Diane Nini) his US No. 1 solo hit "Glory of Love" in 1986. Foster cowrote Kenny Loggins's songs "Forever" (US No. 40), from the 1985 album Vox Humana , and "Heart to Heart" (US No. 15), from the 1982 album High Adventure . Foster also worked with country singer Kenny Rogers on the hit albums What About Me? (1984) and The Heart of the Matter (1985), the latter of which featured "The Best of Me" a song co-written by Richard Marx that was covered by Cliff Richard in 1989, resulting in a number-two UK hit.

<i>Chicago 16</i> 1982 studio album by Chicago

Chicago 16 is the thirteenth studio album by the American band Chicago, released on June 7, 1982. It is considered their "comeback" album because it was their first album to go platinum since 1978's Hot Streets, it made it into the top ten of the Billboard 200, and it produced their second number one single in the United States, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry." The album was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) in August, 1982, two months after its release, and platinum in December, 1982, six months after its release. The song, "Hard to Say I'm Sorry" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Pop Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal.

<i>Chicago 17</i> 1984 studio album by Chicago

Chicago 17 is the fourteenth studio album by American band Chicago, released on May 14, 1984. It was the group's second release for Full Moon/Warner Bros. Records, their second album to be produced by David Foster and their last with founding bassist/vocalist Peter Cetera.

<i>Chicago 18</i> 1986 studio album by Chicago

Chicago 18 is the fifteenth studio album by the American band Chicago, released on September 29, 1986. As the successor to 1984's multiplatinum hit Chicago 17, this album is the first without cofounding member Peter Cetera. This is also the first album to feature Jason Scheff on bass guitar and vocals.

In 1985, Rolling Stone magazine named Foster the "master of ... bombastic pop kitsch". [9] That year, Foster composed the score for the film St. Elmo's Fire , including the instrumental "Love Theme from St. Elmo's Fire", which hit No. 15 on the US pop charts. Another song from the film, "St. Elmo's Fire (Man in Motion)", recorded by John Parr, hit No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 7, 1985. In the following years, Foster continued turning out occasional film scores, including for the Michael J. Fox comedy The Secret of My Success (1987), which featured a song co-written by Foster titled "The Price of Love", a track of which was performed by Roger Daltrey from the album Can't Wait to See the Movie , which Foster also produced, and the Jodie Foster-Mark Harmon film Stealing Home , both of which spawned soundtrack albums with prominent Foster-penned contributions. He collaborated with then-wife Linda Thompson on the song "I Have Nothing", sung by Whitney Houston in the 1992 film The Bodyguard ; the couple also appeared in the film's Oscars scene as the conductor and an Academy member. In 1985 Foster also co-wrote and produced "Tears are Not Enough", which reached top 15 status. It was produced by Foster and recorded by a group of Canadian artists such as Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Bryan Adams and others in similar fashion to the UK's "Do They Know It's Christmas?" and the USA's "We are the World".

<i>Rolling Stone</i> American magazine focusing on popular culture, based in New York City

Rolling Stone is an American monthly magazine that focuses on popular culture. It was founded in San Francisco, California in 1967 by Jann Wenner, who is still the magazine's publisher, and the music critic Ralph J. Gleason. It was first known for its musical coverage and for political reporting by Hunter S. Thompson. In the 1990s, the magazine shifted focus to a younger readership interested in youth-oriented television shows, film actors, and popular music. In recent years, it has resumed its traditional mix of content, including music, entertainment, and politics.

<i>St. Elmos Fire</i> (film) 1985 film by Joel Schumacher

St. Elmo's Fire is a 1985 American coming-of-age film directed by Joel Schumacher. The movie, starring Emilio Estevez, Rob Lowe, Andrew McCarthy, Demi Moore, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy, and Mare Winningham, centers on a clique of recent graduates of Washington, D.C.'s Georgetown University, and their adjustment to post-university life and the responsibilities of adulthood. This film is a prominent movie of the Brat Pack genre. Despite heavy hype, the film was only a moderate financial success, grossing $37.8 million against a $10 million budget, and received mostly negative critical reviews.

St. Elmos Fire (Man in Motion) single

"St. Elmo's Fire " is a song by English singer John Parr from the 1985 film St. Elmo's Fire. It hit number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 chart on September 7, 1985, remaining there for two weeks. It was the main theme for Joel Schumacher's film, and first single from the soundtrack. The song was created and edited within 24 hours.

Foster composed "Winter Games", the theme song for 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary, Alberta. "Winter Games" is also the soundtrack for fountain shows at the Bellagio resort in Las Vegas. [10]

In 1995, Foster signed a deal with Warner Brothers that enabled him to set up his own boutique label, 143 Records, as a joint venture with Warner. [11] Foster gave the responsibility for running the label to then manager Brian Avnet. [11] One of the label's first signings was a then-little known Irish folk-rock band, The Corrs, for whom he produced their debut album. [11] By 1997, Foster had come to the realisation that, in the American market at least, "logo labels" like 143 were in a "bad spot" and, as a result, Foster sold the label back to Warner and became a senior vice president at the corporation. [11] Foster, along with Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, composed "The Power of the Dream", the official song of the 1996 Summer Olympics.


Foster produced major-label debut albums for Josh Groban (2001), Michael Bublé (2003), [12] Renee Olstead (2004), and Charice (2010), which were released under his 143 Records. [13]

In 2001, Foster collaborated with Lara Fabian and the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra to record English-language, French-language, and bilingual (French/English) versions of the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada", for a promotion of the Canadian government. Foster, with his then-wife Thompson, composed "Light the Fire Within", sung by LeAnn Rimes for the 2002 Winter Olympics. In 2003, Foster won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Music and Lyrics for The Concert for World Children's Day . His song, "I Will Be There With You" (sung with Katharine McPhee), has been used by Japan Airlines to promote the introduction of new aircraft to its US flights.

The 2001 film, The Score, starring Robert De Niro and Marlon Brando, features a Diana Krall recording, "I'll Make it Up as I Go". This song, which accompanies the film's ending credits, was composed by David Foster (together with his daughter Amy Foster-Gilles), and was used in the film. [14]

In 2005, Foster, his daughter Amy Foster-Gillies, and Beyoncé wrote "Stand Up For Love" as the anthem to the World Children's Day, an annual worldwide event to raise awareness and funds for children's causes. Over the years, more than $50 million has been raised to benefit Ronald McDonald House Charities and other children's organizations.[ citation needed ]

Foster speaking in a ceremony for Andrea Bocelli at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2010 DavidFosterMar10.jpg
Foster speaking in a ceremony for Andrea Bocelli at the Hollywood Walk of Fame, 2010

In 2009, it was revealed by songwriter Diane Warren that she had worked with Foster to produce tracks for Whitney Houston's upcoming album and the singer's comeback single would be the Foster-produced "I Didn't Know My Own Strength". [15]


On December 15, 2011, it was confirmed that Foster would become the Chairman of Verve Music Group. [16]

In 2013, Foster produced Mary J. Blige's first Christmas album A Mary Christmas released October 15. The album includes 12 classics such as swing-styled "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" it also features artists such as: Marc Anthony, Jessie J, The Clark Sisters, Barbra Streisand, and Chris Botti. Foster produced Andrea Bocelli's album, Passione , released in January. The album is a collection of Mediterranean love songs featuring duets with Jennifer Lopez, Nelly Furtado, and a virtual duet with Edith Piaf. [17]

Foster also produced an album with Bryan Adams called Tracks of my Years released in 2014. [18]

Foster left Verve in 2016 in a label reorganization. [19]

Television appearances

In early 1993, Foster went to Indonesia to record the TV show David Foster's Twilight Orchestra on the national television station RCTI. In early 2001, Foster appeared in Popstars , a WB reality series aimed at coming up with the next girl group. The result was Eden's Crush (featuring Nicole Scherzinger). Foster and Linda Thompson wrote and produced several songs on their album. [20]

In 2005, his and Linda Thompson's home life was featured in a Fox-staged [21] reality TV show, The Princes of Malibu , in which he attempted to teach his spoiled stepsons, Brandon and Brody Jenner — the children of Thompson and Olympian Bruce Jenner [22] — to straighten their lives up and earn their own way.

In late April 2006, he appeared as a guest mentor on American Idol and as a guest judge on Nashville Star . [23] In 2006, he was a judge on the FOX TV show Celebrity Duets and appeared on Star Tomorrow , for which auditions were held in Los Angeles and New York for undiscovered talent.

Foster in September 2012 DavidFosterHWOFSept2012.jpg
Foster in September 2012

In July 2006, Foster made a brief appearance on The View as Star Jones's vocal coach. In August 2006, he was the musical director for JCPenney Jam's "The Concert For American Kids". [24] Also in 2006, Foster was featured in Under the Desert Sky , Andrea Bocceli's live album and DVD of a pop concert held in Las Vegas. In 2007, Foster was featured in Bocelli's Vivere Live in Tuscany , a live album and DVD of a pop concert performed at Bocelli's Teatro del Silenzio in Lajatico, Tuscany in July. In November 2007, Foster appeared in The Oprah Winfrey Show's annual "Favorite Things" episode, performing with Josh Groban. [25]

In September 2008, singer Charice joined Foster on The Oprah Winfrey Show with Celine Dion via satellite; and on October 31, he and Andrea Bocelli appeared on Oprah again together, where he stated that Bocelli was his "favourite singer on the planet". [26]

In December 2008, Foster was featured in a PBS special titled Hit Man: David Foster & Friends, a concert featuring live performances by Foster and numerous other performers. [27]

Later in 2011, he was featured in Andrea Bocelli's live album, Concerto: One Night in Central Park (also known as Live in Central Park) and in Bocelli's four PBS Specials. Bocelli also performed during Foster's Hit Man special. [28]

In late 2012, Foster appeared in an episode of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills . His wife, Yolanda Foster, was added to the cast of season three of the reality TV show. [29]

In 2015, Foster joined the panel of judges for Asia's Got Talent . [30] In 2017 and 2019, he returned as judge for the second season and third season. [31]

Christmas album productions

Foster has produced multiple best-selling Christmas albums. He produced Celine Dion's These Are Special Times (1998), Josh Groban's Noël (2007), Andrea Bocelli's My Christmas (2009), Michael Bublé's Christmas (2011), Rod Stewart's Merry Christmas, Baby (2012), Mary J. Blige's A Mary Christmas (2013), and Jordan Smith's 'Tis the Season (2016). Thus, he has produced the best-selling Christmas albums of 1998, 2007–09, and 2011–12. Four of these albums rank among the top fifteen best-selling Christmas albums ever. Foster is also credited with composing "Grown-Up Christmas List" (1990).


Foster created the David Foster Foundation, which supports children in need of medical transplants. [32] Foster is also an ardent supporter of Israel, raising money for their military at fundraisers as recently as 2018. [33]

In the Juno Awards 2019, David Foster was honoured for his philanthropic work due to his own foundation supplying money to charities and Canadian families in need of life saving transplants. [34]

Personal life

Foster has been married five times and has five biological daughters and seven grandchildren (4 girls, 3 boys). His first child, Allison Jones Foster (b. 1970), was born when David was 20. He placed her for adoption and reconnected with her when she was 30. [35] His first marriage was to singer and writer B.J. Cook, [36] who already had a daughter, Tamre Winger. [36] Cook and Foster had one daughter together, Amy S. Foster (b. 1973) a songwriter and author. [36]

He married his second wife, Rebecca Dyer, on October 27, 1982, and they divorced in 1986. [37] They have three daughters: Sara Foster (born in 1981), Erin Foster (born in 1982), and Jordan Foster (born in 1986). [38] Foster is the father-in-law of former professional tennis player Tommy Haas, who is married to Sara.

He married his third wife, actress Linda Thompson, in 1991. [39] The two became a songwriting team, collaborating on several songs, including "I Have Nothing", performed by Whitney Houston in The Bodyguard (1992), and "Grown-Up Christmas List". [40] They divorced in 2005. [39] Foster was stepfather to Brody Jenner and Brandon Jenner (Linda's sons with Bruce Jenner), who both grew up living in his Malibu home. Both Jenner boys did a short-lived TV reality show called The Princes of Malibu at Foster and Thompson's home, starring themselves, Thompson, and Foster.

In 1992, Foster was driving a Chevrolet Suburban on the Pacific Coast Highway when he struck actor and dancer Ben Vereen, who was walking along the highway near his Malibu home. Vereen was critically injured, but recovered after going through physical rehabilitation. [41] [42]

Foster married his fourth wife, Dutch model Yolanda Hadid in Beverly Hills, California, on November 11, 2011. [43] David had three stepchildren from Yolanda Foster's previous marriage to Mohamed Hadid: two daughters and one son, Jelena "Gigi" Noura (b. 1995), Isabella "Bella" Khair (b. 1996), and Anwar Hadid (b. 1999). On December 1, 2015, Foster announced that after four years of marriage and nine years together, he and Yolanda had made the decision to divorce. [44] The divorce was finalized in May 2017. [45]

His sister, producer Jaymes Foster, is the mother of Clay Aiken's son, Parker Foster Aiken. [46] He is a cousin of race car driver Billy Foster.

In June 2018, Foster became engaged to Katharine McPhee of American Idol fame. [47] On June 28, 2019, Foster and McPhee married at the Armenian Church of St Yeghiche, South Kensington in London. [48]


Studio albums

Awards and nominations

In 1985, Rolling Stone magazine named Foster the "master of ... bombastic pop kitsch". [9] Foster has won 16 Grammy Awards, including three Grammy Awards for Producer of the Year and has been nominated a total of 47 times. [54] He has been nominated three times for an Academy Award for Best Original Song and won the 1999 Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song for the song "The Prayer" (sung by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion) from the film Quest for Camelot . He has been named BMI's "Songwriter of the Year". [55]

He is the subject of Barry Avrich's 2019 documentary film David Foster: Off the Record . [56] The documentary was to be released in 2019 with the first airing at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2019. The film includes archival footage and interviews. Appearances by singers include Barbra Streisand, Michael Bublé, Josh Groban, Celine Dion and others. [57]

See also

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<i>A Mary Christmas</i> 2013 studio album by Mary J. Blige

A Mary Christmas is the eleventh studio album and first Christmas album by American R&B recording artist Mary J. Blige. It was released on October 15, 2013, by Matriarch, Interscope and Verve Records. The album was primarily produced by David Foster, and features guest appearances from Barbra Streisand, Chris Botti, Jessie J, The Clark Sisters, and Marc Anthony.


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Further reading

Business positions
Preceded by
Tommy LiPuma
Chairman of Verve Music Group
December 15, 2011 - present
Succeeded by