How Raffi connects with kids year after year

In 1979, Raffi revealed just how he kept up his energy to keep up with a demanding schedule of performing for kids.

And how the singer-songwriter gets the energy to keep up with those same kids!

Raffi, in his trademark Hawaiian shirt and slippers, on stage in 1984. (CBC Still Photo Collection)

Raffi Cavoukian has been entertaining children with his memorable songs and shows for more than 40 years. 

Throughout his long career, Raffi has continued to write songs to add to his performance repertoire, just as he has done this very summer with the release of a new album.

In late 1979, he dropped by CBC-TV's Take 30 to talk about a very busy year he'd had on the concert circuit and some of the ways he kept up his energy for his young audiences. 

At that time, his third album, The Corner Grocery Store, had been a very successful follow-up to his first two — Singable Songs for the Very Young, and More Singable Songs.

'You must be like Jean B​é​liveau'

And a lot of people had heard those songs, as Raffi had just played 155 shows in the same calendar year — and the year wasn't over yet.

Raffi on meeting the demand for shows in 1979

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41 years ago
In this Year of the Child, 1979, Raffi has had a heavy performance schedule. 0:24

After hearing about the singer's busy schedule, Take 30 host Harry Brown commended him on his stamina — "you must be like Jean B​é​liveau" — and Raffi agreed it had been a demanding stretch of touring.

"It must be all the yoga exercises I've been doing or something because I've had a lot of energy this year," said Raffi.

'I'm on their side'

Raffi on connecting with his audience in 1979

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41 years ago
Raffi comments on how he connects with such a young audience. 0:50

Raffi also spoke about feeling inspired and energized by 1979 being the Year of the Child, and so he'd done his best to meet the challenge of being in demand.

As he told Take 30, his formula for connecting with such a young audience is a simple one: "I just try and let them know I'm on their side."

Comfy slippers for the stage

Known for his relaxed style on stage, Raffi proudly showed off his footwear — a pair of well-worn slippers. 

The singer told CBC in 1979 that he had worn these slippers for every stage performance in the past two-and-a-half years. (CBC Archives)

"I got them in Carcross, in the Yukon," he explained. "I've worn them every time I've been on stage with children the last two and a half years."

And how will he follow up such a busy year?  Raffi admitted he would have a little rest, but he said he intended to delve more into early childhood education. 

Baby Beluga listeners become Beluga grads 

Also, Raffi said he was not so sure about getting involved in television because he prefers the scope records allow for the use of the imagination.

Raffi's view on how his career will unfold in 1980

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41 years ago
Raffi talks about what he envisions for the upcoming year. 2:23

As Raffi tells Take 30, he does expect that there will be a new album coming out. And there was a new one in 1980, the highly successful Baby Beluga

And now, more than four decades after the release of his first one, Raffi has a new album — Dog on the Floor, released in 2018 — for the adults he calls "Beluga grads" to bring their own children to see him perform on stage.