Raffi Returns

A world-famous children's singer plays his first shows in a decade.

Raffi Cavoukian, one of the world's most famous purveyors of music and songs for children, recently launched his first tour of family-centric shows since he hung up his banana phone in Seattle in 2002. Here, the B.C.-based singer/songwriter/activist talks about Shrek, hockey moms, and Beluga Grads.

Kornelis: Are you focusing just on children, or do you have parents in mind when you write music?

Raffi: I certainly focus on the young child. At the same time, I've always arranged and produced my music such that it's pleasant to the adult ear as well. But that doesn't mean you need to stray outside the child's frame of reference to do so.

Kerns: You've talked a lot about not licensing your music to advertising or taking sponsorships. How important is that to you?

I think it's wrong to advertise directly to children. I've never done it and I never will. I also think—you mentioned Shrek a little while ago, they wanted to do a "Baby Beluga" movie. The conversation didn't last too long, because when we asked "Would you market this film to children?", they said "Of course we would." We said we think that's wrong. We think it's unethical to market directly toward young children.

Kornelis: You haven't been as active onstage in the past few years. Why are you getting back on tour now?

What I'm excited about now is that we have over 10 million people who grew up with my music who are now adults, and I call them, affectionately, "Beluga Grads." And they're going to be in the audience bringing their own children to the show.

Kornelis: Are you writing new music?

Recently I've issued two new CDs for older audiences—Beluga Grads. They're CDs of what I call motivational songs for all of us to participate in making peaceful and sustainable societies.

I want to tell you about a new song. I wrote a song about hockey. When I was younger, I enjoyed hockey very much, and loved watching it on TV. Still do: I'm a big Vancouver Canucks fan. So I thought I'd write a song especially for the hockey moms and dads who take their kids to the rink once a week or twice a week all through the winter. So the song's called "On Hockey Days," and you can buy it on iTunes.

Kornelis: Would you mind sharing a verse with us, or a chorus?

Well, the line in the chorus is [singing] "Off to the hockey rink we go!" [laughs].

SW music editor Chris Kornelis and KIRO Radio's Josh Kerns co-host Seattle Sounds, Saturdays at 7 p.m. on 97.3 KIRO FM.


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