1. Fred Penner
2. Elder Albert McLeod
3. Fred Dugdale
I’ve had the opportunity to meet Fred Penner twice since starting at The Uniter in 2014. The first was when I sat in on an interview and performance Penner did in the UMFM studios. I was only there to research a story on local podcasters, so meeting Penner was a happy coincidence. But it was still a memorable time, especially for someone like me who grew up watching Fred Penner’s Place and listening to his cassettes.
The second time was when I visited his Osborne Village home for our regular Whose House feature. Writing those is always fun. Most people are warm and hospitable when opening their homes to The Uniter, but Penner went above and beyond. He was willing to be vulnerable and emotional when speaking about his own childhood. He clearly cares deeply and has strong feelings about children’s entertainment. After our interview ended, he asked myself and photographer Simeon Rusnak our opinions on the media consumed by 21st-century children. “Your friends must be having children. What do they show their kids?”
We talked about this, our own childhoods and life in Winnipeg for at least an hour. I think it’s this openness and curiosity that makes Penner a lasting favourite of Winnipeggers. Nostalgia could easily be a motivation for readers to name him their Favourite Local Achiever Over 60. But Penner isn’t nostalgic. His coffee table was covered in notes for songs he was writing for his planned new album. When that record, Hear the Music, hit shelves, it featured guest appearances by Bahamas’ Alfie Jurvanen and singer-songwriter Ron Sexsmith. In February and March, he’s embarking on a country-wide, 19-city tour. He looks forward, not backward.
Published in Volume 74, Number 12 of The Uniter (November 28, 2019)