David Foster Explains Why He Stopped Producing Music - and the Lucky New Song That Helped Change His Mind (Exclusive)

The hit musician, 74, opens up about producing Grammy winner Chris Botti’s new jazz album and single "Danny Boy," after a period of intense boredom in his career

Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images David Foster
Daniel Boczarski/Getty Images David Foster

David Foster is back to the business of producing. 

The pianist and musical mastermind behind timeless hits from stars like Whitney Houston, Celine Dion and Mariah Carey, recently helped Grammy-winning trumpeter Chris Botti create his new offering. Unlike Foster’s previous work on pop and R&B projects, this album is all about that jazz. 

“I think Chris is the greatest jazz trumpeter alive. His shows are like a religious experience,” says Foster of what drew him to sign on to produce Botti’s new project titled Chris Botti Vol. 1, out now. “Thankfully he talked me into it, and I got to sit there for a week or two and enjoy these brilliant musicians led by Chris, while giving a nod of approval or saying ‘Hey, why don’t you try this?’”

<p>John Abbott</p> David Foster and Chris Botti

John Abbott

David Foster and Chris Botti

He adds, “It was an easy way to produce as opposed to my whole life where I’ve had to roll up my sleeves and get in the weeds. In my heyday I was kind of like a bull in a china shop.” 

The album has made for a delightful return to the producing scene, which Foster says he largely left behind eight years ago after hitting a wall.

“Honestly, I just got bored with myself,” he says. “I didn’t get bored with the music business. In every decade I’ve been in it there’s been ups and downs, good music and crappy music. I just got bored with myself and how I made records.”

Jim Jordan David Foster
Jim Jordan David Foster

For Foster, embracing jazz, has been a way to shake things up. “I grew up on jazz and I really loved it, I just wasn’t good at it,” he says. “That was really upsetting to me in the beginning, like ‘God, why can’t I be a jazz player?’ But thankfully I was given other skills. Working with Chris and someone like 18-year-old piano player Brandon Goldberg, who’s phenomenal, that’s another way for me to be close to jazz without actually having to make jazz.”

If there's one song in particular that Foster’s excited about, it's Botti’s “Danny Boy,” to be released this weekend in time for St. Patrick’s Day. “He did an incredible version,” says Foster of the trumpeter's sultry reimagining of the traditional Irish folk song. “So lamenting and beautiful.” 

<p>Blue Note Records</p> Chris Botti Vol. 1

Blue Note Records

Chris Botti Vol. 1

But when it comes to musical collaborators, Foster is an even bigger fan of wife Katharine McPhee, 39. The pair, along with son Rennie, 3, have been out on the road for months with their An Intimate Evening tour that kicked off last year. 

<p>Courtesy David Foster</p> Katharine McPhee and David Foster

Courtesy David Foster

Katharine McPhee and David Foster

Though he produced their recent Christmas album, “It wasn’t like producing,” he says. “It was just me and my wife in the studio hanging out, making music. It’s always fun with her.”

Chris Botti Vol. 1 is available now.

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