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Fostering Success

Grammy Award-Winner David Foster on His Extraordinary Career and What’s on the Horizon

David Foster’s illustrious career has spanned many aspects of the entertainment industry. He began as a studio musician, arranger, and recording artist, later becoming one of the most successful songwriters and record producers in history. He’s won 16 Grammy Awards from 47 nominations.

His career began as the keyboardist for the Canadian band Skylark, where he had his first hit, “Wildflower.” After that, the hits kept coming—he co-wrote Earth, Wine & Fire’s “After the Love Has Gone,” Boz Scaggs’ “Jojo,” and Chicago’s “You’re the Inspiration.” He produced Celine Dion’s “Because You Loved Me,” Whitney Houston’s “I Will Always Love You,” and the debut albums for singers Josh Groban and Michael Bublé. He performs around the country. He’s had numerous television appearances, including as a judge on Asia’s Got Talent. And so, so, so much more. 

Foster is also the musical director for the Valley’s star-studded Celebrity Fight Night, which recently merged with Gateway for Cancer Research, putting Gateway’s chairman and vice chair, Richard J. Stephenson and Dr. Stacie J. Stephenson, at the helm of the Celebrity Fight Night organization. 

We sat down with Foster to chat about his career, Celebrity Fight Night, and his new musicals.

You’ve had such an illustrious career and you are a household name—but how would you describe yourself in one sentence?

I’m a piano player who has maximized his talent. 

When did you know that you wanted to be involved in the world of music?

Really early. I was really lucky that I had two great parents, and that we had a piano at home. I started playing at 5. Even though my parents didn’t have a lot of money, we had a piano.

My father was an amateur musician and he patiently spent hours and hours teaching me. 

As long as I can remember, I loved music. When I go to a doctor’s office and the form asks for a profession, I still put musician.

What achievements are you most proud of?

Aside from my kids? I don’t remember winning my last Grammy, but I distinctly remember winning my first Grammy. It was a song I co-wrote with Earth, Wind & Fire. I had watched the Grammys all my life, so to win one and be on the stage was wonderful. 

Another was when I made the record Unforgettable with Natalie Cole and her father. It was back in the time before all the technology we have now. Now it would be easy. But it was 30 years ago and we had to work really hard then to make that. It was quite an achievement.

In 2021, you were on The Masked Singer with your wife, Katharine McPhee (who was actually on the cover of our May 2021 issue!). How was that experience?

We went into that during Covid. There was a slowdown in the industry and we didn’t have much happening. We filmed it in the summer. [When they asked us] we originally said no. And then I thought about it. There were some really great singers who [were on it], some notables, and it was something to do every day for two weeks.

The show was shrouded in secrecy. They cover you from head to toe when you’re not in costume. 

We had the best time and we got to create music we never would have done. We were bummed when we got to the finals and lost. If you know Kat, she loves to win, and she was really bummed.

And we know all the judges. … They guessed it was us the first show, but [the show was] edited it in a way that they don’t show that.

You’ve been part of Celebrity Fight Night for many years…

I think it’s been about 20 years. Jimmy [Walker, the founder] has become a great friend of mine, and Sean [Currie, the executive director, Celebrity Fight Night foundation] is amazing. 

And, it’s Muhammad Ali. He’s the one who started and inspired all this. That’s the beginning and the answer. He was such a force. His best work was done outside the ring. He lit up every room he was in, and you just felt compelled to help. Amazing just doesn’t describe him. 

I fell in love with the whole event and there’s just nothing I wouldn’t do for him. Even though he’s gone, it feels like he’s still here.

How do you feel about the new partnership and working with the Stephensons?

The only thing constant in the world is change. I think it’s inevitable, and with Muhammad gone for quite a few years, I think it’s a natural progression. The Stephensons are super philanthropic. Amazing people who have done so much great work in the world. And, they’ve been actively involved with Fight Night for many years, and they’re actively involved with my foundation, and [who] knows how many others. They’re just generous, hardworking people. I think they came along just at the right time. We needed a new face.

I know that Lonnie [Ali, Muhammad’s wife] is supportive of this as well. And that was important to Jimmy and Sean and the Stephensons, as well—that Lonnie embrace this concept.

The face of Muhammad Ali will never go away.

What have been some of the highlights of the event for you over the years?

How good I felt about getting Celine Dion there, I remember Andrea Bocelli and Jennifer Lopez singing a duet together—that’s kind of a rare combination and that was pretty amazing.

I remember getting Garth Brooks getting up to sing impromptu, I remember Tom Hanks getting up to sing impromptu. I remember Josh Groban and Michael Bublé, my artists, getting their start, sort of, at Fight Night. A lot of great memories.

There were also a couple of incredible speeches, too. Kevin Costner’s tribute to Muhammad was phenomenal, and also so was Billy Crystal’s, and Robin Williams’. They’ve had everybody there. 

In addition to working with Celebrity Fight Night, you are very philanthropic in other ways, including through your own foundation. Can you tell us about that?

I got involved 30 years ago with my foundation, and it started out with a very simple request. There are no bad causes—and so anybody who is doing anything for a cause is great—but I got involved in organ transplants for kids, and there was this big void in Canada, and we filled it. We’re on our way to a large endowment where it will continue long after I’m gone. It’s been great work. And it’s real work. It’s not just me putting my name to something. It’s something that I’ve started that I volunteer with all these years. 

What’s on tap for 2022 or beyond for you?

I’ve been working on these musicals, and they’ve been an ongoing process. … I’m working on two musicals that hopefully will see the light of day this year—and maybe even make their way to Broadway. Who knows? That’s the hope and that’s the goal, and we’re working hard to achieve it.  

Anything else you’d like to share? 

I would just say that I’m a Celebrity Fight Night lifer. I said that 15 years ago and I’ve stayed true to it. It’s very meaningful to me. It’s a big part of my life. Like I said before, there are no bad causes, but this one in particular… I just love it. I can’t imagine not being there. As long as they continue, I will I hope, as long as they’ll have me. 

And I wish the Stephensons all the luck in the world to just maintain this level of excellence, which I’m sure they will because they’re really good people.

Gateway Celebrity Fight Night will be held March 12. For more information or tickets, visit