Sunday, December 7 at 8 p.m. – Great Performances presents Hitman: David Foster & Friends
“Dear friends,” 15-time Grammy Award-winner David Foster calls them, “Some of my favorite people in the world.” To you and me, however, they’re better known as Andrea Bocelli, Josh Groban, and Michael Bublé. The gilded trio leads a parade of entertainers nurtured by the Canadian-born producer, honoring him in the gala concert Hitman: David Foster & Friends on Great Performances, airing Sunday, December 7 at 8 p.m. on WXXI-TV 21 (cable 11) and WXXI-HD (cable 1011 and DT 21.1).
Recorded live in performance at Las Vegas’ Mandalay Bay Events Center, Hitman features Foster presiding at the keyboard, center stage. The evening is a virtual jukebox worth of songs written by and/or produced by him. Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds and brother Kevon offer I Swear; Brian McKnight revisits Earth, Wind and Fire’s After the Love Has Gone; former Chicago front man Peter Cetera gets down with Hard to Say I’m Sorry, You’re the Inspiration, and Glory of Love; and Boz Scaggs reprises Look What You’ve Done to Me from Urban Cowboy.
Neatly arcing Foster’s remarkable 35-year career, other highlights range from early hits like St. Elmo’s Fire Love Theme, recalled here by Kenny G, and Man in Motion, performed by American Idol finalist Michael Johns, through foot stompin’ disco with Cheryl Lynn’s Got to Be Real to the neo-jazz swing of Michael Bublé’s Feeling Good.
Hitman: David Foster & Friends also features American Idol Katharine McPhee, who solos on Somewhere, then joins Italian tenor Bocelli for The Prayer; Bocelli’s silky Amapola; Bublé and country’s Blake Shelton duetting on Bublé’s Home; and new Foster discovery William Joseph at the keyboard for Asturias. And if Josh Groban brings the house down with signatures Bridge Over Troubled Water (in duet with Brian McKnight) and You Raise Me Up, the “Scene Stealer Award” would have to go to 16-year-old powerhouse Charice from the Philippines. Best known in America for her appearances on The Oprah Winfrey Show, she stuns both audience and Foster with the Whitney Houston-by-way-of-Dolly Parton hit I Will Always Love You.
“A star is born tonight,” a genuinely startled Foster exclaims — a man who knows whereof he speaks. Over the past 35 years, he has amassed among his 15 Grammys three for producer of the year. He also has been nominated 44 times. He has produced hits with everyone from Natalie Cole to Celine Dion, from Barbra Streisand to the Corrs, Madonna to Chicago. He also has overseen such blockbuster soundtracks as The Bodyguard, Footloose, and Ghostbusters.
More recently, he has created his own label, 143 (I Love You) Records, in partnership with Warner Brothers, where he’s developing the careers of Groban, Bublé and McPhee, to name just a few protégés.
Hitman: David Foster & Friends includes pre-recorded segments with Dion and Foster offering Because You Loved Me and a special appreciation from Streisand: “David, thanks for spending part of your musical life with me.”
“I’m grateful for my musical past,” says the still-youthful Foster, 58, who began playing the piano at age five and enrolled in the University of Washington’s summer music program at 13. “And I have great anticipation about the musical adventures waiting to reveal themselves in the future. I’m one happy, fortunate and lucky guy.”
For more information, visit www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf.
Pictured: Legendary songwriter/producer David Foster
Photo Credit: Karl Simone
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