Raffi was a hit in my house (or more specifically, in the car!) while my sister and I were growing up. We listened to his songs so much that we almost wore out his cassette tape (yes, this was pre-CDs!).
Though it’s impossible to forget the charismatic children’s musician, many of us may have noticed his lack of albums in recent years. But fear not: Though Raffi–who is also an author–has taken on a variety of endeavors, which he describes below, he’s certainly did not bid adieu to singing. His album “Love Bug,” his first since 2002, hits stores July 15. Want to purchase it earlier? Here’s how.
“I feel like a new papa with this album,” Raffi told Parents.com. “I’m just thrilled to keep making music with my ‘Beluga Grads.’”
Here, Raffi discusses his song inspiration, his views on technology use, and more.
Parents.com: What prompted you to release another album after a 12-year break?
Raffi Cavoukian: I felt the creative need to express myself to my loyal audience of many decades now, and recently I returned to the concert stage after an absence of 10 years….I thought well, gee, you know, I think a new batch of songs to express love and caring in a new way would be fun. At the same time, keep in mind that “Love Bug” is the first Raffi album of the digital era. In 10 short years, social media has changed parenting or at least made it more challenging. It has certainly impacted the landscape of childhood, so after I wrote and published the book Lightweb, Darkweb, about social media awareness and reform, I thought it would be really good to have an album of songs in response to the digital era, an album in full celebration of the real world.
P:How can kids and parents regulate technology use?
RC: In families, that’s the parent’s responsibility, to set the tone of their day, to set the tone of their interactions, and that requires conscious parenting, which is a Child Honouring principle….It just speaks to an awareness by parents of their inner processes so that they are mindfully engaging with their kids, and I know that’s easier said than done [laughs], but the goal is for mindful interactions, rather than unconsciously repeating what was done to us when we were kids. Parents have the opportunity and the responsibility of actually setting a tone in their families, where for little kids, I’m talking about real little ones, real life experience is valued and takes priority above all else. As I say to parents, and I’m basically saying what psychotherapists and pediatricians are saying, information technology can wait. What can’t wait is an infant’s need and desire to bond with the real world, the three dimensional world of wonders, of textures, of elements, this is the job of the formative years. You can do tech later. It’s going to change anyway [laughs].
P: Your listeners today are growing up in a different era than children of the past. How are today’s kids similar to your previous audience, and how do they differ?
RC: The basic needs of early childhood are universal and irreducible, that does not change….What’s different is not the kids themselves, but the culture in which they live, to which they respond. It’s the culture that’s different, that’s faster, it’s more technologically obsessed, and these shiny tech devices represent an intrusion into the early years [of life for] a newborn and an infant. As I said before, the priority in early years, the job of a young one is emotional intelligence, as Daniel Goleman wrote brilliantly in that book, is to exercise the emotional intelligence, which is relational, real people, real world situations. We really have to be careful, we don’t want to introduce shiny tech representations of the three-dimensional world, these are flat, electronic representations that go hyper-fast.
P:What was your inspiration for the title track of your album?
RC: The songs for this album came really easily to me. There was hardly any labor. I think for “Love Bug,” I had that guitar riff that I do [sings] and then the words just came immediately. I thought it was really a neat kind of way of looking at that impulse to hug people, and it’s just a love song.
P: What did you enjoy most about recording this album as a whole?
RC: I think the fact that I was recording again, a children’s album, that I imagined my fans would be waiting for it with great delight, because there hasn’t been a new one in 12 years. And the fact that I recorded 80 percent of it in my living room. In the book Lightweb, Darkweb, I talk about the lightweb being all that we like about digital technology, and I’m a tech enthusiast. I really appreciated the ability for my recording engineer to come from Vancouver, into my living room, with his laptop, and with just one connector box and some microphones, the recording console became his laptop, which is quite common these days. To work that way and the easy editing, I thought that was great fun. I look forward to doing more CDs actually, I’ve got more songs brewing.
P:One song on this album honors Nelson Mandela. Can you talk about this piece?
RC: Those who inspire us live on forever, and Mandela was such a huge inspiration to me. Back in 2011, I wrote and recorded that song and got a chance to sing it for him in Toronto. You can imagine the thrill of being there, singing it for him, and when I finished, he stood up to shake my hand. Well you don’t forget that. In fact, that song title, “Turn This World Around,” is the subtitle of my anthology that I published in 2006, it’s a collection of essays called Child Honouring: How to Turn This World Around. While we wouldn’t think of “Turn This World Around” as a children’s song, it’s the bonus song that completes this collection of songs….The other person I’ve paid tribute to is Pete Seeger. I was with him two years ago….We sang two songs, I remember we were singing together, one was “This Little Light of Mine,” the other was “This Land is Your Land,” which Pete made famous. I mean, Woodie Guthrie wrote it, but Pete made it popular, so I included “This Land is Your Land” as well in this album. The song “Pete’s Banjo,” in case you’re curious, when I came back two years ago from visiting Pete, there I was on my front deck in the sun with my guitar, and I was playing…something that sounded sort of like a banjo, and that’s where I got the idea of a tribute song for Pete called “Pete’s Banjo.” That’s where that came from, and I think that’s where the impetus for this new album may have come from, from seeing Pete Seeger in his ’90s, singing, and people loving it, and I thought, “Wow” [laughs]. I kind of saw my future, if you know what I mean….What does an aging troubadour do? Well he keeps making music. That’s the message I got.
Photo by Billie Woods
Do you have a kid with an urge to sing? Start out with this simple song.
He’s one of those musicians who only needs to use one name. You probably grew up listening to his songs, and your kids likely enjoy them now. He’s making a comeback with his first new recording in 12 years, entitled “Love Bug,” which will be released July 15.
If you haven’t guessed, we’re talking about Raffi! The “Baby Beluga” singer, who parents and kids have known and loved for decades, has a collection of new jams on the way. His video featuring “Love Bug” (and some adorable kiddos) makes its GoodyBlog debut below:
Can’t wait for the album to become available on the 15th? Starting July 8, you can purchase your copy at Whole Foods stores.
Is your little one a fan of critters? Try your hand at these cute cupcakes!
Building vocabulary, fine-tuning motor skills, and darting everywhere: that’s what’s on Baby’s agenda for the next 12 months. Help her grow with these playful first birthday gifts, currently available at deep discounts at Shop Parents.
• Let your babe create her own tunes with the Baby DJ music mixer. It has a scratch pad and joystick that lets her trigger loads of zany effects.
The Australian music group, The Wiggles, has been entertaining millions of children around the world for over 20 years. This year, they’re announcing three new cast members, including the first female Wiggle. Emma Watkins joins as the Yellow Wiggle, Lachlan Gillespie as the Purple Wiggle, and Simon Pryce as the Red Wiggle. Anthony Field, the founder of the The Wiggles, remains as the Blue Wiggle.
To introduce the new Wiggles, the quartet is on an international tour called “Taking Off!” and they will visit 35 U.S. cities starting in August. In addition to the tour, the group has also released a new CD and DVD. (To find a concert in your local area, click after the jump for confirmed tour dates.)
Watch a video of the new Wiggles performing “Do the Propeller!”, a song from their CD:
We listen to a lot of children’s music here, but one recent CD particularly stuck out to us: a rap album by Flipping Out star (and expectant mom) Jenni Pulos. So naturally, we were very excited when Jenni stopped by the office last week to give us the scoop on her music and her pregnancy.
As it turns out, Jenni started working on her album, Old School Kids Beats, four years ago—way before she became pregnant. But its release last week is conveniently timed just a few months before her July due date. And the album has already staked a spot on the iTunes bestseller charts for children’s music, so it looks like all that hard work is paying off. “Watch out Spongebob, I’m coming after you!” Jenni declared with a laugh.
Old School Kids Beats tackles everything from potty training to bullying, the latter being particularly important to Jenni. “’Bullies Aren’t Cool’ is especially close to my heart,” Jenni said. “It’s a true story saying we should support one another.” While many of the themes are targeted towards toddlers, Jenni believes parents will dig the album too. In fact, one of her major inspirations was Pixar, because of the way they create entertainment that kids and adults can enjoy equally. “I thought, let’s get popular music and fresh beats and mix that with timeless messages,” she said.
Making the album ended up being a family affair for Jenni, as her 19-year-old nephew wrote “Cell Phone 411” and her husband wrote (and sings!) the chorus to “The Doctor Says.” Even better, 10 percent of the proceeds from the album will go to several of Jenni’s favorite charities, including the American Cancer Society and Opportunity Village.
Jenni’s devoted fans can also look forward to catching an inside glimpse at her pregnancy on the new season of Flipping Out, which is filming now. You can also catch her on Interior Therapy, which returns to Bravo this summer.
When I was in college, I spent my summers working as a teacher’s assistant in a child care center. I have many wonderful memories from those days — watching a baby take her first steps, hearing another say his first word — but there’s one thing I don’t miss: nap time.
Every day after lunch, the children were put on their cots to rest or nap. The lights were turned off, the shades were drawn, and music was turned on to block out noise from other classrooms. Our selection of music that calmed the children (without putting us to sleep) was so small that we often listened to the same CD, on repeat, for weeks. (Turns out there’s a limit to how many times you can hear the same princess love song before you start going crazy.)
My experience with bad children’s music must be why I instantly fell in love with Martha’s Trouble‘s new album of lullabies, “A Little Heart Like You.” A mix of traditional and original songs, the album is the 11th self-released record from the husband-and-wife duo. It’s the perfect lullaby album — soothing for Baby, not boring for Mom and Dad. If it had existed a few years ago, I wouldn’t have minded listening to it on repeat during nap time.
With smash hits likes “The Wheels on the Bus” and “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” parents don’t always get to listen to music they necessarily enjoy. Don’t get me wrong–these catchy tunes are popular with children for a reason. But sometimes we need a break from the perpetual nursery rhymes.
That’s where Stephen Kellogg and The Sixers’ Gift Horse comes in. We’ve loved listening to this new album from the grass-roots American rock band. As a fan of The Sixers previous work, I think it’s safe to say their newest release is one of most mature and cohesive albums to date. Several of the songs focus on themes of family or growing up in the U.S., which I know is a relatable topic for most of us.
“I wrote the last two songs on the record, ‘Roots and Wings’ and ‘Noelle, Noelle,’ while we were making it,” says Kellogg on the band’s website. “I realized I had more to say about the subject of family, and that makes me think it’s got to be a huge thing for a lot of people. So I try to write in a way that’s going to positively impact people without being too obvious or literal.”
Check out the “Roots and Wings” music video below. And let us know in the comments section what your favorite family-friendly albums are–that don’t mention spiders or bus wheels.
When I had my first daughter, Julia, a friend sent me a personalized CD filled with songs that inserted Julia’s name into them. It was SO BAD. (No offense to my friend; we still laugh about it.) The creators made no effort whatsoever to actually blend the name into the rest of the lyrics. Imagine a woman singing “Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear”–and then a man blurting out “JULIA” at a louder volume–and then that same woman wrapping up with “Happy Birthday to you!” All 20+ songs were like that. Listening to that CD was unbearable.
Then, not long after my second daughter Lila was born, I received a CD from Name Your Tune. Same premise. I was very skeptical when I popped it in, but this was a whole new ballgame. The quality was high, the songs were catchy without being annoying, and most importantly, they made my children happy. Julia was fascinated by hearing songs that included her baby sister’s name, and Lila sat quietly whenever we played the CD. It’s been a fixture in our car ever since, and for some reason even my husband and I haven’t tired of the tunes.
Then on Friday, Name Your Tune was nice enough to surprise me with another CD. This time it was personalized for both girls, with the first song incorporating Julia’s name, the second Lila’s, and so on. When my family picked me up at the train that night, I slipped in the CD and watched the girls for their reaction. I wish I had thought to tape it–it was priceless. When the song that for nearly three years featured Lila’s name instead said Julia’s, Julia actually gasped, and Lila silently stared me down. “It just said ‘Julia!’” Julia exclaimed. I explained that I’d just gotten a new CD, and they were entranced for the rest of the ride home.
And all weekend long, any time a song that used to “be” Lila’s used Julia’s name, Julia broke into a huge grin and Lila cracked up. In the grocery store, Lila announced to the man at the deli counter, the produce guy, and the woman who rang us up at the register, “Now it’s ‘Little Julia Had a Farm’!” (which required a bit of explanation from me, but they seemed to share in our excitement).
All of this is to say that if you have a child under age 6, consider this CD. And if you already have it, you might like to know that they’ve recently come out with a second volume with different songs.