Monday, July 8, 2013

July 8: Canadian singer-songwriter Raffi Cavoukian – “Baby Beluga” – is 65-years-old today.

Raffi Cavoukian, CM, OBC was born July 8, 1948 in Cairo, Egypt, to Armenian parents. His family immigrated to Canada in 1958, eventually settling in Toronto. He is named after the Armenian poet Raffi.

In the early 1970s, Raffi frequented a guitar store near Yonge and Wellesley called Millwheel, where he met other developing Canadian musicians. (Raffi ran a coffee house at the University of Toronto up until 1980.)

Raffi played folk guitar in coffee houses in Toronto and Montreal before hitchhiking to Vancouver in 1972 to find "fame and fortune." He returned to Toronto after a few years and was invited to sing for a Toronto public school. Despite his own hesitations about singing for kids, he was an immediate success and thus began his career entertaining children.

He moved to Mayne Island near Victoria, British Columbia, in 1989. Once called “the most popular children’s singer in the English-speaking world” he is well loved by many children born in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s for his popular children's songs.

His autobiography, The Life of a Children's Troubadour, documents the first part of his award-winning career. In his autobiography, he wrote that early in his career, he found it difficult to perform for younger kids (under 3 years old) because their short attention span was distracting to him and to the rest of the audience. This led to a hiatus from children's performing in the mid 1980s.

Raffi prefers performing in small intimate settings. He once turned down a very lucrative offer to perform a concert at Madison Square Garden, because he thought the venue was too large for him to connect to children.

Some of Raffi's best-known children's songs are "Baby Beluga," "Bananaphone," "All I Really Need,” and "Down by the Bay." Most of Raffi's children's albums include small, simple, folk instrumentations, prominently featuring Raffi's vocal and guitar work. Raffi also incorporated many world music sounds into his records.

Raffi is currently the president of Troubadour Music Inc., which he founded to produce and promote his work according to his ethical standards. Raffi's recent musical work focuses on social and environmental causes and appeals to the generation who grew up with his children's music ("Beluga Grads") to effect change in the world. He also promotes those causes through his books, academic lectures and as a speaker.

In 2007, Raffi wrote and produced the single, "Cool It," a rockabilly call to action on global warming, recorded with Dr. David Suzuki in the chorus. In recent years, Raffi has devoted himself to "Child Honouring," his vision for creating a humane and sustainable world by addressing the universal needs of children.

In October 2006, Raffi was presented with the Fred Rogers Integrity Award by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood at the Judge Baker Children's Center in Boston, for his consistent refusal to use his music in endorsements that market products directly to children.
For more about Raffi, visit his Website at –


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