Norman Foote - Children's Entertainer
An interview article by Rosemary Phillips
Update 2012: In 2009 I had the pleasant surprise of catching a Norman Foote performance at the Duncan Cowichan Summer Festival on Vancouver Island. I really enjoyed it and had a great time singing along, doing actions and being like a kid myself. Norman has a great way with the audience - the result is laughter, song and participation from both kids and grown-ups. A special treat was his recent creation and Juno winner "Love My New Shirt". All his lyrics are fantastic and really great fun! His jokes? Perfect for all ages! He has the audience in the palm of his hands as songs, jokes and stories roll out of him so naturally. A wonderful act and highly recommended!
2003: Norman Foote, Canadian children’s entertainer not only
has children (and grown-ups) laughing, he has symphonies laughing. Norman Foote
is in demand. He was packing his bags ready to fly to a US city
when this interview was conducted for the Vancouver Island Symphony’s
“Super Kids Special”.
Something’s a Foote!
And it’s calling all sizes, big
and small. All foot sizes will be whisked away by toe-tapping melodies, comedic
stories and hilarious props down a light-hearted musical Foote path.
Foote jokes? There are many. “Well that’s what happens
when you have a name like Norman Mervin Barrington-Foote?”
replied Foote in a recent interview. And Foote jokes have been with
him all his life. Even his first garage-band with young friend Rory
Woods was called Wood ’n Foote.
Norman Foote likes to play with words, and music. “The sky’s
the limit with this kind of entertainment,” he explained.
“Unlike regular grown-up music you can write about an inanimate
object that comes to life and fictitious characters that are so
out of this world that folks have to open up their imagination.”
A clip of Norman Foote doing his rendition of "Old MacDonald had a Farm"
Percussionist extraordinaire Jim Salmon (A.K.A. Fish) is behind him.
Norman Foote’s first guitar
That’s Foote himself - using imagination - like when he first
played a guitar at age 11. “I was brought up on a small farm
in Whonnock near Haney. I had a friend across the field and his
mum had a guitar. We fooled around with it - I would do the fret
board and he would do the strings. I was fascinated by it. That
Christmas there it was, this finely crafted guitar from Simpson
Sears with the strings two inches off the fret board.”
The family moved to Squamish when he was 12 and he started guitar
lessons. By then he already knew that he wanted to be an entertainer.
“It was my total focus to be a songwriter and a performer,
but I didn’t know what kind.”
As a teen he continued with garage-bands and from the age of 21
had a children’s puppet show while writing music for adults.
It wasn’t until his 30s that things started falling together.
“I finally put out a children’s record of songs and
as soon as I did that I got picked up by Disney records.”
"One Thousand Pennies"
Since then Foote has created six CD’s, of which the most
recent, “One Thousand Pennies” has received the 2002
NAPPA Gold Award and the 2002 West Coast Music Award, to name but
Norman Foote - family man
“It’s funny where we all end up,” continued Foote,
parent of four children with two grand children. “Other than
being with my family, which is my number one passion, my favourite
thing to do is song writing, and when I get on stage it’s
about getting people to laugh and sing. I do like to make people
Children’s Music with a symphony orchestra
Foote now has symphonies laughing. “It’s doesn’t
get any better than this,” he explained. “One of the
best things I did was create the symphony show - I had to get a
second mortgage on my house to do it - but when you have 70-plus
musicians on the stage and they are playing your tunes it’s
incredible. We have a piece called the ‘Laughing Orchestra’
where different sections of the orchestra are introduced musically
- and the instruments laugh.”
Helping Foote with his arrangements and performances is Bill Sample,
one of Vancouver’s leading musicians, who will be joining
him on stage at the grand piano. And to the right side of the stage
will be John Forrest on his double bass. Forrest, a member of the
VIS since its inception and known in Nanaimo for his work with youth,
co-wrote with Foote for his first two CDs with Disney.
Along with the VIS, under the baton of Maestro Marlin Wolfe, Foote
was joined by many 12-year-olds as the Ladysmith Middle
School Choir got put through its paces. “I’ve had a
lot of fun working with choir groups when they join the show. I’ve
sort of redefined choirs - with funny actions, sound effects - and
And how many of those 12-year-olds (and 13 and 14) might already
be dreaming about being a musician?
Believe in yourself
“It’s about believing in yourself. It’s all about
saying you can do it,” added Foote who lives by those words.
With a family, CDs, videos, his own record company and performances
around North American he feels very fortunate. And he still has
dreams - to continue putting everything into the show that he is
doing at the moment, and believing in what he does.
More information on his music, CDs and tours is available from
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