The greatest compliment a recording executive can receive is being described as having great ears. But David Foster has been described as not only possessing great ears, but great eyes. That is, his innate ability to recognize the potential of the music and to create within it a visual identity that will express the essence of the sound.
Foster, a fourteen-time Grammy Award winner (including the coveted Producer of the Year award no less than three times) with an unprecedented 41 nominations to his credit, erupted onto the music scene when his rock group, Skylark, scored the Top 10 hit "Wildflower" in 1973. Quickly establishing himself as one of the industry's premier keyboardists, Foster went on to become one of the most sought-after session musicians, performing alongside such musical titans as John Lennon, Diana Ross, George Harrison, Rod Stewart and Barbra Streisand.
Restless with the lifestyle of a session musician and eager to expand further on his own songwriting and producing, Foster turned to outside projects, writing and producing hits for the likes of Hall & Oats, Boz Scaggs and the Average White Band, among many others. By 1979, Foster had won his first Grammy Award for co-writing the #1 song "After the Love Has Gone" recorded by Earth Wind & Fire.
This success was quickly followed by another Grammy in 1980 for producing the cast album of the Tony Award-winning hit Broadway musical, Dream Girls. And it wasn't long before Hollywood recognized the young producer's talents, which led to a number of film and television projects, including Boz Scaggs' "Look What You've Done To Me" (Urban Cowboy), as well as several #1 singles including Chicago's "Hard To Say I'm Sorry" (Summer Lovers) and "The Glory of Love" (Karate Kid Part II), and John Par's "Man in Motion" (St. Elmo's Fire). He also produced platinum-plus selling soundtracks to such box-office toppers as Ghostbusters and Footloose.
It was during this time, building his reputation as the best of the next generation of innovative songwriters/producers, that Foster laid the foundation of what would be a turning point in his career. It was here that he developed an overriding philosophy that would later propel him through dozens of multiplatinum successes. Foster embraced the emerging music and sounds of the street. Throughout this discovery process, Foster broadened his base of experience which now criss-crosses just about every style of music including Rock, R&B, Pop, Soul, Country, Jazz and Classical. This process began to not only define Foster's rise, but further empower him within the creative community.
Foster went on to amass a formidable list of production credits, creating such seminal hits as "Talk To You Later" (The Tubes), "You're The Inspiration" (Chicago), "Somewhere" (Barbra Streisand), and "We've Got Tonight" (Kenny Rogers and Sheena Easton). And by the late eighties, Foster's signature style of infectious rhythms and spot-on lyrics became synonymous with contemporary radio, giving birth to hit after hit from such musical heavyweights as Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Chicago, Neil Diamond, Alice Cooper, Manhattan Transfer, Phil Collins, The Pointer Sisters and Aretha Franklin, among many others.
In 1993, Foster was named Billboard's Top Singles Producer and Top R&B Producer, and was the year's top Grammy nominee with seven nominations, taking home his third award for Producer of the Year (Non-Classical) for Whitney Houston's soundtrack to The Bodyguard.
Similarly, over the past few years, he has produced songs that have driven such chart-topping records as: Celine Dion's Grammy Award winning Falling Into You, which spawned two Foster-produced hit singles, "Because You Loved Me" and "To Love You More" (co-written with partner Edgar Bronfman, Jr,); Natalie Cole's Unforgettable; Barbra Streisand's Broadway and Back to Broadway; Michael Bolton's Timeless: The Classics; and Kenny G's Breathless. Between 1994 and 1997, four of his productions (Toni Braxton's "Unbreak My Heart," Whitney Houston's "I Will Always Love You," All-4-One's "I Swear," and Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me") each reached #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and remained for a remarkable 42 weeks. Collectively, these songs occupied the #1 position for an unprecedented 20% of the time during these years.
Not limiting himself to any one role, Foster's entrepreneurial spirit and artist-driven success caught the attention of Atlantic Records' brass, who recruited him as Vice President in 1994. Less than a year later, Foster established his first recording label, 143 Records, which was distributed through Atlantic. In 1997, Foster was promoted to Senior Vice President of Warner Music Group and Chairman of 143 Records, which was expanded to become a joint venture between Foster and the music group.
Foster's willingness to empower artists coupled with his own prowess within the creative community as an executive was quickly reflected by the fledgling label's success in breaking Ireland's sibling pop act, The Corrs, who now have combined worldwide sales of almost ten million albums; Country sensation Kevin Sharp, whose critically acclaimed debut album sold nearly one million copies, as well as in marketing hit soundtracks from such major motion pictures as Message In A Bottle and I Still Know What You Did Last Summer. Upcoming releases include rock singer-songwriter Beth Hart, Lace and Yve & Adam.
With an initial string of hit records under its belt, a reputation that is riding high, and a host of promising new releases on the horizon, 143 itself has become one of the most dynamic new labels to emerge in recent years.
Today, Foster continues to push the musical envelope even further. Recently, he has enjoyed success with such hits as "It's Your Song" (Garth Brooks), "Let Me Let Go" (Faith Hill), "Have You Ever" (Brandy), and "Tell Him" (Celine Dion & Barbra Streisand). Foster, along with writing partner Carole Bayer-Sager, co-wrote and produced the soundtrack for Warner Brothers' first animated feature, Quest For Camelot. The soundtrack, which features the hit song "The Prayer," performed by Andrea Bocelli and Celine Dion, earned Foster the Golden Globe Award in January, '99. Currently in the studio with Foster are 'N Sync (featuring Gloria Estefan), Andrea Bocelli, Diana Krall, Dru Hill, Mariah Carey, Toni Braxton, Michael Jackson, Barbara Streisand, Lace, Laura Pausini, Luis Miguel, and Whitney Houston.
Despite his many ongoing projects, Foster himself has made time to pursue a solo career, releasing albums for Atlantic Records. His most recent, The Symphony Sessions, featured the composer performing original works with the acclaimed eighty-three piece Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. Highlights include "Winter Games," which was specially commissioned for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics and : "Water Fountain," a reworked rendition of Foster's Golden Globe-nominated theme for the Michael J. Fox film The Secret of My Success. Prior releases include River of Love and Rechordings.
Foster was honored in 1994 by the American Academy of Achievement with their prestigious Golden Plate Award. He was later inducted into the Academy's Library of Living History. In 1997, Foster received the esteemed Neil Bogart Memorial Fund Children's Choice Award. Additional music honors include two Gemini Awards from the Canadian music and television industries, five Juno Awards, and his induction into the Canadian Music Hall of Fame in 1997. Foster has also had three Academy Award nominations.
A long time champion of children and advocate of their rights, Foster established the David Foster Foundation to assist families of children in need or organ transplants. To date, the foundation has raised several million dollars and assisted numerous children throughout North America.
As a prominent mover and shaker within the philanthropic community, Foster has tirelessly lent his musical skills to many charitable foundations and organizations such as the Andre Agassi Foundation, Race to Erase MS, Malibu High School Scholarship Program, and Cedars-Sinai Research For Women's Cancer, among many others.
Always willing to go against convention, Foster made history by assembling fellow Canadian artists including Bryan Adams, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, and Gordon Lightfoot to record "Tears Are Not Enough", a song he co-wrote with Adams to aid African famine relief. He also produced and wrote the music to his wife Linda's lyrics for "Voices That Care," the entertainment industry's salute to U.S. troops in the Persian Gulf, which to date has donated over one million dollars to the Red Cross and U.S.O. of America.
A native of Victoria, British Columbia, Foster is currently living in Los Angeles with his wife and frequent music collaborator and co-writer Linda Thompson. They have six children between them.
Living up to that early promise, he was enrolled as a student at the University of Washington at the age of 13, and three years later, when offered an opportunity to join the backing band for rock n' roll legend Chuck Berry, Foster embarked on his professional performing career. In 1971, Foster relocated to Los Angeles, and within two years, his group Skylark scored the top ten hit "Wildflower". Throughout the early '70s he built a solid reputation as one of the best session keyboard players in the business, performing with such superstars as George Harrison, Barbra Streisand and Rod Stewart .
From there, Foster added songwriting and producing to his musical accomplishments. His early production and writing client list included Hall & Oates, Deniece Williams, Carole Bayer Sager, Boz Scaggs and The Average White Band.
In 1979, he received his first Grammy Award for writing Earth, Wind & Fire's "After The Love Has Gone".
Foster's writing and producing credits expanded to include such superstars as Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney, Lionel Ritchie, Neil Diamond, Dionne Warwick, Kenny Rogers, The Manhattan Transfer, Olivia Newton-John, James Ingram, The Pointer Sisters, Art Garfunkel, Roger Daltrey, Kenny Loggins, Al Jarreau, Richard Marx and many, many others. Over the years, Foster has been involved in a variety of projects for Atlantic Records, including a series of solo albums; his self-titled debut release in 1986, his second solo album, The Symphony Sessions, 1988 and the album River 0f Love in 1990, and in 1991 Foster's acclaimed Rechordings was a stunning collection , featuring versions of Foster's best-loved compositions.