Walt Disney Records put its best foot forward with Norman Foote's new children's album. With its zany play on words, "Foote Prints" combines the routine with the bizarre. And it will make you laugh.
Named Best Children's Performer by the western division of the Canadian Association of Recording Arts and Sciences and a nominee for the prestigious Juno award in his native Canada, Foote and "Foote Prints" make their American debut Thursday, April 25, through Sunday, April 28, with the Salt Lake City Disneyland Days. Foote will be performing several times a day at Valley Fair Mall in West Valley City.Foote, 36, the father of two, incorporates puppetry, an art he learned while a member of a traveling company in Australia, into his live comedy acts. He works ideas for songs and puppets into his shows, testing his audiences' immediate response.
Foote likes to transform traditional themes into contemporary ideas, incorporating musical styles ranging from blues to jazz and rock. In "Raining Cats and Dogs," he has a "pet store in my yard" with poodles in the puddles. A "Nursery Mudley" discovers Old Mother Hubbard "went to the cupboard to give her poor dog a bone. But when she got there, the cupboards were bare, so they sent out for Chinese food." Several nursery rhymes become one nonsensical saga.
When Little Miss Muffet encounters a spider at her feast of curds and whey, she eats him, too. In one number, Foote laments living in a pumpkin shell but then reconsiders, "But what the heck, it's not that bad. I've got a sister who lives in a shoe."
In the lullaby tradition, set to an upbeat tune, he sings of the reality that often hits new parents: "We live in his command and kiss the gentle hand of his majesty, the baby."
Foote also manages to slip in some good, old-fashioned advice. Everybody makes mistakes, so just fix them, he says. And, if at first you don't succeed, try again. What if Thomas Edison and Christopher Columbus had given up, he asks?
A music video of "Dinosaur and the Progress of Man," one of the songs from "Foote Prints," is scheduled to be aired on the Disney Channel beginning in April. Seemingly written for adults rather than children, it has overtones of concern for the environmental damage inflicted by man.
You need a positive attitude to write for children, Foote says. "It's very satisfying. I feel like it's a privilege to write for them. You can't fake stuff like that."
And Foote feels that working for Disney is the best chance a children's performer can have.