David Foster Reflects...

[From Canadian TV News]

David Foster reflects on an award-winning career

CTV.ca News Staff

It's no secret that David Foster is a legend in the music business. The musician, songwriter and producer has been nominated for a Grammy 42 times and has won 14 times.

He's worked with just about everyone you think of when you think of a "diva" -- Barbra Streisand, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston -- the list goes on. He's also helped launch the careers of a few current bright young things, including Michael Buble and Josh Groban.

Canada AM's Seamus O'Regan had a chance to sit down with Foster and his 22-acre, $70 million estate in Malibu, California. It is on that estate where Foster has worked with some of the biggest names in music in his custom-built music studio creating No. 1 albums.

Like an athlete who can remember every moment of every great game, Foster says he can remember all his great moments at his studio.

Toni Braxton
"With her song 'Unbreak my Heart', the demo was very, very low. So I said to Babyface, who actually owned the label that she was on, 'I'm going to do the record but I want to raise it up higher.' He said, 'No, keep it low because there's something very earthy about it.' And I said, 'Yeah, but she can barely even sing down there.' He said, 'Trust me; it's going to be great.' We went with his instinct, and it worked out great. She sounded so great down low."

Natalie Cole
"I remember the Unforgettable album. There were three producers on the album and we had 22 songs. The three producers who were sitting around, and we put all the songs in the centre of the table and we started picking the songs that we liked. Her husband at the time, Andre, said, 'I like that song.' And Tommy said 'I want to do that one.' Nobody was picking 'Unforgettable.' I said, 'I like "Unforgettable," I'll do that one. But we didn't know it was going to be a duet. Natalie said 'That's the one I would like to do as a duet with my father.' So how lucky could I get? Natalie and Nat together? Of course, the technology was different then than it is now so it really was a lot of hard work to put that together."

"Madonna was great to work with because -- I never really understood her mystique although I always liked her music. We met in New York, had dinner to discuss the album. And there was something so intoxicating about her. We were just the two of us at dinner and I was looking at her going, 'Wow, she totally sucks you into her world. It's like there's nobody else in the restaurant.' She had a great work ethic. A lot of artists, they want to be co producers just because they can. She wanted to be a co producer, but she earned it. She really knows her way around a studio. She works hard."

Whitney Houston
"Whitney and Bobby came here and spent three days with us. It was great. But there was a funny story. I was working on a vocal track and she was in the other room watching TV with Bobby. And they were just yelling and screaming and I thought, 'Oh, no, they're having an argument.' And I went in there and they were actually watching outtakes of Jerry Springer and they were going nuts, yelling 'You get 'em!' at the TV."

Barbra Streisand
"We have kind of a brother-sister relationship. I'm generally not friends with some of the people I work with. Natalie I have remained good friends with. But Barbra is a really, really good friend. We've decided now that we are better off being friends and not working together because she thinks I'm difficult to work with, I think she's difficult to work with. We have worked together for 20 years. I used to be her piano player back in the early '80s, I played piano on her record. She's a wonderful friend, she's a great talent, but we don't get along that well in the studio. So we decided we probably won't work together anymore. But we're still friends."

Michael Jackson
"I think probably a lot of things that I probably wouldn't say on the air. Safe to say he's incredibly talented. To me, he was Frank Sinatra and Fred Astaire all rolled into one and he could have had this incredible, incredible career. Don't know what happened in his childhood, I know only what we see, only what we read. But it's safe to say he's a very confused and troubled man."

Celine Dion
"She's -- well, she's just of course Canada's great national treasure. And I've said it before but I will say it again: You take somebody like Whitney you ask her to sing a lick, and she will give you something back that isn't exactly what you asked for. Sometimes it's better than what you wanted but it's not what you wanted. You ask Celine to give you a lick, and she gives you exactly what you ask for. And she'll do it 10 times, sometimes 20 times. She is the most professional. I just can't say enough great things about her and her husband. It's a great, great love story. I've known her since she was 18 or 19. I'm thrilled and honoured that I'm still in their camp. She has other people come in and out of her life, but I'm one of them."

This is where Foster offers his bombshell prediction.

"I suspect -- now this is just my own theory, I don't say this because anybody has tipped me off to anything, this is just what I think -- I think that Celine Dion will one day in the near future just walk away. That's what I think. Because she's been doing it since she was 12. She's now 35, 36, she'd like to have another child, so that might be a deciding factor for her. I think Vegas has been very hard for her, just in terms of the voice and the air and all that. And although she loves to sing, like an athlete, they walk away when they're on top.

"It's just a feeling I have about Celine. I could be totally wrong. I hope she doesn't see this because she might go, 'What? Are you, nuts?!' That's just my feeling. Stay tuned."

Foster says that he doesn't believe he's that great at picking the hits; instead, he brings out the best in a singer.

"Celine can step up to a microphone and give you everything. I can give you 10 per cent more with her, I think. That's my job and that's what I'm really good at. I can't pick a hit song better than anyone else, really. All I can tell is if somebody can really sing. And if they can really sing, I can bring them in here and I can make them sing a little bit better."

And Foster believes that he can trace much of his success to growing up Canadian.

"People can say that I'm full of it and I'm ranting just to rant about my country. But I love being Canadian. It's probably the single greatest key to my success, I believe: my Canadian upbringing."



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