David Foster is such a master of music, he’s known as the hitman in the record industry. He’s a platinum producer, wizard writer, artistic arranger, creative conductor and perfect pianist. He’s also the confidante to the stars, and it’s because of his royal and regal reputation that he can count on them as friends.
Not content with producing this weekend’s performances by Sir Elton John, Rob Thomas, Jennifer Hudson, Jason Mraz and the Canadian Tenors for Andre Agassi’s annual Grand Slam benefit at the Wynn, David has to top himself one week later. That’s when he presents his PBS special David Foster & Friends at Mandalay Bay Events Center on Oct. 15.
David told me: “When we started these specials, Andre Bocelli and Michael Buble led the charge. To try to do less would be a cheat, so I’m happy to say we’ve done it again with an extraordinary lineup that’s equally impressive.”
Superstar Seal will headline, along with Las Vegas hometown hero Ne-Yo, Martina McBride, Earth Wind & Fire, Kenny Loggins, Michael Bolton, Ruben Studdard, Donna Summer, Charice, Chaka Khan and Natalie Cole. As if that scorecard of superstars wasn’t sufficient, David promises that there also will be some surprise guests.
In our interview, David revealed that Donna, Chaka and Natalie have said that they’re up to working as a trio for the first time. “It’s a case of finding the right music and getting the rehearsal time. If we can pull that off, it would be incredible. All of them want to do it. We’ve certainly got Seal and Donna working on a duet, and Martina McBride, too.”
David told me: “It’s a 12-month task to put the one-night-only show all together. Working on the music is the last thing you tackle. In the six weeks leading up to the show, I really reach deep into my repertoire. At this moment, I have a 4-hour show that must be cut to 93 minutes. I’ve cut it down already to 30 numbers, but by the time we arrive at Mandalay Bay, that will have to be cut to 24 numbers.
“However, I don’t even know who will drop by to surprise us. Last year, we had Donny Osmond and Paul Anka come by out of the blue to perform ‘Puppy Love,’ so you never know what to expect at the last minute. I know there will already be one definite surprise, but I’m guessing there will be some other nice ones, too.”
I asked David if even he was impressed and in awe of the superstars he signed up this year. “I marvel at it every day. I am humbled by their support. I walk away every time saying to myself that I’ve never seen a lineup like this before and will never again -- and then I have to do it all over again a year later. Remember I grew up with a very ordinary life just 10 miles over the border into Canada.
“So I get excited every day about being in this business. I work in a fantasy world and have the greatest time. But the workload is phenomenal. I’m never fearful of it. I don’t want it to sound egotistical, but I know I’m good but never take it for granted because I am very lucky to have this God-given talent.”
His only fear is that he dreads a last minute no-show due to circumstances beyond his or the star’s control. “I simply want them to be happy onstage with me, and if they are, then I am and the audience will be.”
David predicts that this will be the big year for his teen discovery Charice, now 18.
“She’s set to explode now that she’s appearing on Glee. She is coming into her own now at 18. She’s a star, and you know when she’s in or out of the room. She will sing two Celine Dion songs. One is ‘To Love You More,’ and I guarantee our audience will have chills it’s so emotional.
“Be it Seal or Donna Summer or any of the others or the surprises, this will be one more extraordinary and memorable night I won’t even believe it myself.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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