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Fred Penner

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Fred Penner
Born Frederick Ralph Cornelius Penner
(1946-11-06) November 6, 1946 (age 70)
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Alma mater University of Winnipeg
Occupation Singer, guitarist
Known for Fred Penner's Place (1985–1997)
Spouse(s) Odette Graziella Heyn (m. 1981–2011)
Rae Ellen Bodie (m. 2016–present)[1]

Frederick Ralph Cornelius "Fred" Penner, CM OM (born November 6, 1946) is a Canadian children's music performer who gives appearances throughout North America. His television show, Fred Penner's Place, aired on CBC in Canada from 1985 to 1997, and was seen in the United States on the cable channel Nickelodeon from 1989 to 1992.

Penner has received a Juno Award for Children's Album of the Year three times: in 1989, 2003 and 2015.

Life and career

Penner was born on November 6, 1946 in Winnipeg, Manitoba, to Lydia Agathe Penner (née Winters, 1913-2005) and Edward W. Penner (d. 1971).

At the early age of four, Penner began making up songs while travelling on the bus with his mother. He taught himself how to play the guitar when he was in grade school, and performed in school choirs and pageants. Through his experience with his sister Susan's Down Syndrome, he recognized the therapeutic value of music.

Penner received his high school diploma at Kelvin High School, where he took lead roles in the Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. After graduating from the University of Winnipeg with a Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and psychology, he spent time working with mentally and physically challenged children, using music to comfort and entertain. In 1977, he met choreographer and future wife Odette Heyn, with whom he started a children's dance theatre company. Penner accepted an offer to do a recording, which resulted in the album The Cat Came Back, which launched his career and established him as one of Canada's leading children's entertainers.

In 1984, he appeared on the children's television show, The Elephant Show, singing "The Cat Came Back". In 1991, he was made a Member of the Order of Canada for "using music and song to entertain and educate his young audience".[2] In 2011, he was made a Member of the Order of Manitoba.[3]

Currently, Penner splits his time between Winnipeg, Manitoba and Toronto, Ontario. He was formerly married to Odette Heyn, with whom he has four children. He remarried in 2016, to theatre director Rae Ellen Bodie.[1]

The release date for Penner's new album, Hear the Music (available on CD and on iTunes) with some well-known "guest" singers, is April 21, 2017.[1][4][5] He still performs occasionally. Recent dates included 26 November 2016, in Airdrie, Alberta, 21 January 2017 in Regina, Saskatchewan and February 18, 2017 in Fernie, BC.[6][7][8] Penner is also confirmed for concerts in Toronto, Brampton and Ottawa, Ontario in April 2017 and for Calgary in May. [9][10][11]

These (and other concerts) confirm what Penner told the Calgary Journal in March 2012. " I am not planning on retiring any time soon. I still feel engaged and connected with the audience. ... As long as I can stay healthy and creative, what is the purpose of stopping? ... There are so many lovely aspects to what I do, that it continually fills me with joy and excitement and energy. I am constantly energized by my audience — wherever I might find them."[12]


Penner performing in 2011
  • The Cat Came Back (1979)
  • The Polka Dot Pony (1981) (reissued as Poco)
  • Special Delivery (1983) (reissued as Ebeneezer Sneezer)
  • A House for Me (1985)
  • Fred Penner's Place (1988)
  • Collections (1989)
  • The Season (1990)
  • Happy Feet (1992)
  • What A Day! (1994)
  • Moonlight Express (2001)
  • Sing With Fred (2003)
  • Where In The World (2014)
  • Hear the Music (2017)



  1. ^ a b c "Fred Penner – Biography". Retrieved 14 March 2017. 
  2. ^ "Order of Canada". Governor General of Canada. Retrieved 2008-01-09. 
  3. ^ [1][dead link]
  4. ^ "Hear the Music by Fred Penner on Apple Music". 
  5. ^ "Fred Penner Gets Ron Sexsmith, Basia Bulat, Bahamas for New Album". 
  6. ^ Ruth, Dustin (24 November 2016). "Fred Penner brings Christmas to Airdrie". Airdriecityview. Airdrie City View. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "Win a Fred Penner concert at your school!". CBC News. CBC. 2 January 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2017. You can still see Fred Penner LIVE in concert for Winterruption in Regina on Saturday, January 21. 
  8. ^ "Part of Fernie Stoke Fest weekend of live music. Bring the family to enjoy Fred Penner!". Tourism Fernie Events. Tourism Fernie. 15 February 2017. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 
  9. ^ "Fred Penner". 
  10. ^ "Fred Penner — Arts Commons — Calgary, Alberta". 
  11. ^ "Concert Listing: Fred Penner — Apr 19 @ 7:00PM at Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln, Brampton, ON". 
  12. ^ Taylor, Karry (9 March 2012). "Fred Penner continues to engage and energize his long-time fans". Calgary Journal. Calgary. Retrieved 23 February 2017. 

External links