Raffi plays The McPherson May 25. “It’s going to be a wonderful sing along. There will be some banana puns. It’s a show with appeal.”

The Big Personality: Raffi

Children's entertainer and advocate Raffi Cavoukian on honouring the whole child, his new book and latest album for little listeners

Hold the bananaphone!

Better yet, pass it to your kid and take that smartphone away. Raffi Cavoukian, known simply as Raffi, is one of the best-known children’s entertainers in North America for his top selling albums such as ‘94’s Bananaphone and an outspoken advocate for children, who has recently turned his attention to online safety and the proliferation of infotech devices.

“Your children are not born to learn technology,” Raffi says from his Salt Spring Island home. “They’re born to learn the wonders, the textures and the rhythms of the natural world. It’s from that joyful grounding that all other learning will come.”

As a children’s advocate, the 65-year-old says it’s virtually impossible to enjoy the benefits of the Internet – what he considers the “lightweb” – without grave concern for its dark, predatory underbelly, or “darkweb.” Earlier this year, he released Lightweb Darkweb, a call to action for social media providers, parents and the greater society, to reform social media, provide a safer environment for its young users and take into consideration their developmental needs.

It’s a weighty issue for Raffi, one co-existing top-of-mind with but another collection of merry tunes currently in production. This summer he will release his first record in 12 years.

“Given that infotech devices are everywhere – for the first time they’re in children’s lives in a big way – I wanted to make some kind of a statement with this music. You might say that this album is in full celebration of the real world.”

Love Bug will let his fans get to know him all over again, Raffi says, with a shout out to those he has dubbed his “Beluga grads.” It’s a moniker endearingly given to those who listened to his anthemic ode to the endangered species on 1980’s Baby Beluga and are now enrolling the next generation in the timeless school of Raffi.

And that’s exactly where Raffi’s “accidental career” as a children’s entertainer began, as a folk-singer in his mother-in-law’s preschool classroom, where he first sang for her students and opened the door to an unexpected world.

“The initial experience of singing with kids on a rug on the floor of a nursery school was quite charming, apparently for both me, the kids and their teachers and it led to more. Along the way my desire to understand kids grew. As I was helped to see children as people worthy of respect, that was the key for the rest of my music to unfold. That feeling has never left me, the feeling of respect for the child as a whole person and it has guided my entire career and the decisions that I’ve made.”

Passing on any project marketed to kids, and defending the environment along the way, the Egyptian immigrant’s ethics eventually led him to develop child honouring. The philosophy of nine principles aimed at putting children first to heal communities – including diversity, this also guides his work at The Centre for Child Honouring, a charitable organization on Salt Spring.

“The success that I’ve had in my career offers me opportunities – a platform from which to keep spreading a message of joy and that the child embodies joy, is an inspiration to all of us. The young of every culture are the same biological creatures. If you have a newborn baby – whether that’s an Irish baby, or an East Indian baby, or an Eritrean baby – that’s the same heart-beating, beautiful, vulnerable, intelligent biological creature the world over. That universality of the human condition is best seen in the young child.”

 

Just Posted

Glass Tiger hits reimagined, brought to the stage

The pride of Newmarket Ont. performs songs from 31 at the McPherson Playhouse

Multiple Juno Award winning Arkells bringing new tunes to Victoria in 2019

Hamilton-based rock band proved hugely popular in city during Canada 150 celebrations

Bill Gaston, Monique Gray Smith capture Victoria Book Prizes for 2018

Butler Book Prize and Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize winners collect $5,000 each

Canada’s country music sweetheart brings The Gumboot Kids to town

Jessie Farrell to perform songs from her hit CBC TV series at McTavish Academy of Arts

VIFF wrap-up: Finely crafted films part of festival finale

Monday reviewer Kyle Wells puts a cap on his 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival experience

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

CRUSH 2018: Fine wine affair benefits the Belfry Theatre

Patrons sample B.C. wines, bid on rare international treasures donated for fundraiser

Harry and Meghan travel in different style on Australia tour

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day seven of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

INDY FILM FARE: 1970s hedonism and more at The Vic Theatre

From Studio 54 to Rocky Horror, there’s plenty of excess to observe this month

Shark-attack metal band coming to Victoria tonight

Shark Infested Daughters, a Calgary metalcore group, play the Upstairs Cabaret tonight, Oct. 13

STAGE AND SONG: Spotlight on Victoria arts groups

Learn about some of the city’s favourite theatre and musical entertainment options

Island lensman Jim Decker lands three top photography awards

During exciting photo trip to Yap in Micronesia, Cobble Hill man earns trio of firsts

Most Read