As It Happens

Celebrating Lois Lilienstein of Sharon, Lois & Bram

She sang, she danced and she won the hearts of children and their parents around the world. Lois Lilienstein, of the musical trio Sharon, Lois & Bram, died Wednesday of endometrial cancer. She was 78.
Sharon Hampson, Lois Lilienstein and Bram Morrison are photographed in Toronto Tuesday July 9, 2002. Lois Lilienstein of Sharon, Lois & Bram fame has died. Her son David Lilienstein says she died at home in Toronto surrounded by friends and family. (Aaron Harris/Canadian Press)

She sang, she danced and she won the hearts of children and their parents around the world. Lois Lilienstein, of the musical trio Sharon, Lois & Bram, died on Wednesday of endometrial cancer. She was 78. Her bandmates and longtime friends, Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison, were with her the day she died.

Sharon, Lois & Bram first formed as a group in Toronto in 1978 and gained international fame with hits like "Skinnamarink" and "Peanut Butter." They also hosted a CBC children's television program called The Elephant Show, which began airing in 1984.

Lilienstein grew up in Chicago and performed as a child tap dancer with her mother. They called themselves "The Goldberg Sisters." She moved to Toronto half a century ago when her husband, Ernest, took a job teaching at York University. At the time, Lilienstein had no experience with folk music. Hampson and Morrison both drew musical inspiration from Pete Seeger. Lilienstein took her cues from Ethel Merman.

"Lois' background was in classical music and Broadway show music. And she was working with children, as was Sharon, as was I, all of us through the Mariposa in the Schools program," says Morrison of how the three first met.

"We decided to make a record, we did not decide to start a career. We just thought we'd make one record together," says Hampson.

Thirty-seven years later, Sharon and Bram are still entertaining. Lilienstein retired from touring with the group after the death of her husband in 2000, but she occasionally still performed.

Lilienstein found it difficult to perform after her husband died.

"They had a very close marriage," says Morrison. "His loss really pulled the rug out from under her feet and I don't think she ever recovered."

Hampson has fond memories of her friend.

"Lois and I did a lot of fun things together. Lois was a wonderful cook and baker. We shopped together, we fought, we loved each other, we hated other, we were like sisters."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now