Fred Penner

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Fred Penner
Frederick Ralph Cornelius Penner

(1946-11-06) November 6, 1946 (age 73)
Alma materUniversity of Winnipeg
OccupationSinger, guitarist
Known forFred Penner's Place (1985–1997)
Spouse(s)Odette Graziella Heyn (m. 1981–2011)
Rae Ellen Bodie (m. 2016–present)[1]

Frederick Ralph Cornelius Penner, CM OM (born November 6, 1946, Winnipeg, Manitoba) is a Canadian children's music performer who gives appearances throughout North America. His television series, 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 four times: in 1989, 2003, 2015, and 2018.[2]

Life and career[edit]

Penner was born on November 6, 1946 in Winnipeg to Lydia Agathe Penner (née Winters, 1913-2005) and Edward W. Penner. By the age of four, he had begun 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 experiences with his sister Susan, who has 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. Currently, Penner splits his time between Winnipeg and Toronto. He has four children by his first marriage to Odette Heyn. He remarried in 2016, to theatre director Rae Ellen Bodie.[1]

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".[3] In 2011, he was made a Member of the Order of Manitoba.

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 November 26, 2016 in Airdrie, Alberta; January 21, 2017 in Regina, Saskatchewan; February 18, 2017 in Fernie, British Columbia; and September 21, 2019 in Lethbridge, Alberta.[6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

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."[13]


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Reunion Short film
1993 What a Day! Himself Short film
2014 Fred Heads Himself Documentary
Lennon or McCartney Himself Documentary
2016 Lovesick
2017 Northern Folk Himself Documentary
Year Title Role Notes
1984 Sharon, Lois, & Bram's Elephant Show Himself Season 1, episode 10: "Lifestyles"
1985-1997 Fred Penner's Place Himself Composer
1994 The Biggest Little Ticket Television film
1998 The Adventures of Shirley Holmes Bill Marshall Season 2, episode 6: "The Case of the Exploding Puppet"
2003-2007 Tipi Tales Composer Composer of the theme song
2015 The Plateaus Fred Penners Appeared in three episodes
Sunnyside Barber Season 1, episode 12: "Sunnyside Tours"
2019 Cavendish himself (poster, wax statue) Season 1; multiple episodes


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)


  • "Canadian Who's Who 1997 entry". Archived from the original on August 2, 2009. Retrieved May 8, 2006.


  1. ^ a b c "Fred Penner biodata". Retrieved March 14, 2017.
  2. ^ "Junos 2018: the complete list of winners". CBC News, March 25, 2018
  3. ^ "Order of Canada". Governor General of Canada. Archived from the original on 2007-09-30. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  4. ^ "Hear the Music by Fred Penner". Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  5. ^ "Fred Penner Gets Ron Sexsmith, Basia Bulat, Bahamas for New Album".
  6. ^ Ruth, Dustin (November 24, 2016). "Fred Penner brings Christmas to Airdrie". Airdriecityview. Airdrie City View. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  7. ^ "Win a Fred Penner concert at your school!". CBC News. CBC. January 2, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 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. February 15, 2017. Retrieved February 23, 2017.
  9. ^ "Fred Penner profile at". Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  10. ^ "Fred Penner — Arts Commons — Calgary, Alberta". Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  11. ^ "Concert Listing: Fred Penner — Apr 19 @ 7:00PM at Rose Theatre, 1 Theatre Ln, Brampton, ON". Retrieved September 12, 2017.
  12. ^ "Fred Penner". Retrieved Oct 9, 2019.
  13. ^ Taylor, Karry (March 9, 2012). "Fred Penner continues to engage and energize his long-time fans". Calgary Journal. Calgary. Retrieved September 12, 2017.

External links[edit]