Families in Rocky View County are in for a treat March 24, when beloved children’s performer Fred Penner puts on a special matinée show at Bragg Creek Community Centre as part of the Bragg Creek Performing Arts (BCPA) spring music series.
“My performing is all about inclusion – bringing people together, singing songs and sharing a tune that has a universal concept that we can all find a frame of reference for,” Penner said. “It’s all about the dialogue between the performer and the audience.”
Penner’s dialogue with the audience began in the 1970s and has lasted for decades. With his CBC television show, Fred Penner’s Place, this Juno-award winning artist spent 13 years as a fixture in the homes of many Canadian families – providing a safe space where kids could feel free to be themselves.
“I still have people contacting me often, telling me how the show was really important to them,” Penner said. “And not just because it was entertainment, but because it had that deeper connection. They felt good about themselves after the show.”
Fans of Penner’s long-running show will be able to enjoy a bit of nostalgia at his show in Bragg Creek, although he admitted some of his songs have changed. His message, however, has remained the same – and he said he is always excited to share his energy and philosophy with a new audience.
“Never underestimate the difference you can make in the life of a child,” he said. “Early Fred-heads, the kids who grew up watching me, are now having kids of their own. I’m honoured that so many parents did allow their kids to watch my show, and now people are coming to see me bringing their own connections and their own stories with what I’ve brought into their lives.”
However, Penner said his show isn’t just for kids. His goal is to make children, their parents and their grandparents alike all feel connected and engaged during the performance – something he said he has worked hard at doing throughout his career.
“I like that I have that ability, to get on the stage without condescension – with clarity, with positive energy – and bring a wealth of music and experience to the audience through a very lovely, organic process,” he said. “I’m not a young man, I turned 71 last year. But when I get on that stage, I feel like I’m 35 again. The joy of being on stage and doing what I’ve done for these many years is still vibrant inside of me – it’s a fire. I have no complacency.”
Penner said he hopes the dialogue he begins with children and their families continues even after his performance is over – with parents asking their kids about the experience and remembering the songs to sing together again and again.
“We’ve kind of lost our innocence, with the global situation and the violent things that have happened in the world,” he said. “Where is the time to push all that aside and just relax? To just be together and discover the joy of life?”
For more information about BCPA’s series or to purchase tickets to see Fred Penner in Bragg Creek at 2 p.m. March 24, visit braggcreekperformingarts.com