Brandon Sun (Newspaper) - June 25, 2002, Brandon, Manitoba
Children’s entertainer Raffi plays his guitar in this recent handout photo. In the past three months he’s released a new CD, met with Nelson Mandela, spearheaded a campaign to ban chemical pesticides from lawns and written a song about peace for the children of Israel and Palestine.
Rockin’ Raffi tireless toddler troubadour
By ANGELA Pacienza
TORONTO — Ask most preschoolers who the greatest rock ’n’ roller is and the answer could easily be Raffi, Canada’s toddler troubadour. And after 25 years of sin-galongs, there’s no sign the 53-year-old is growing weary of hanging around tykes.
In the past three months Raffi has released a new CD, performed at a UNICEF concert with Nelson Mandela, asked governments to ban chemical pesticides from lawns and written a song about peace for the children of Israel and Palestine.
Salaam Shalom, Side by Side was launched last week at www.tumthisworldaround.org, a site where Raffi has posted music for free download. On the track he sings “Sister, Brother/Mother,
Father/Learn a new dance/Sing a new song/Find a new path/Make a circle where we all belong.”
Aside from the grey hair and a couple of new wrinkles, you’d never be able to tell the mild-mannered performer has been making children smile for a quarter century. He’s got the same love-makes-the-world-go-round attitude he had in 1976 when he released his first album, Singable Songs for the Very Young.
“No matter how much the adult world around them changes, children’s need for an unhurried life, for a life of play, doesn’t change,” he said in an interview during a recent stop in Tbronto where he attended Dad Walk 2002, an event to raise awareness about ongoing violence against women.
“They have the universal need to be loved, to be accepted for who they are, to discover their own life’s purpose.”
That purpose, according to Raffi, is defined by play time and therein lies the motivation behind his latest album, Let’s Play!
The 16 tracks — a combination of children’s classics like Eensy Weensy Spider, pop covers like the Beatles’ classic Yellow Submarine and original songs like Jane Jane, a tribute to chimpanzee researcher Jane Goodall arc vintage Raffi with lots of finger snapping and toe-tapping rhythm.
Name: Raffi Cavoukian
Born: 1948 in Cairo. Egypt. Immigrated to Canada with his family in 1958.
First performance: 1974.
First CD: Singable Songs for the Very Young, 1976.
Awards: Order of Canada, 1983; Gemini for Best Children’s Program, 1990;
United Nations Environmental Achievement Award, 1992; Juno for Best Children's Recording, Bananaphone, 1994. Total publications: 13 albums, 25 books including an autobiography and three concert videos.
Quote: “The songs that mean the most to a young child are the songs about things that are real in that child's life, in her imagination like animals, teddy bears, belugas and chipmunks. Yeah, they might have their fascination with pop singers of the day and that’s not a big deal. It s just a matter of degree. Let s not mistake what a child really needs."
Growing tired of society’s drive for speedy food, service and growth, Raffi wanted to remind parents that children need to be given adequate time for frivolous fun.
“Unlike a computer, a child cannot be made more powerful or faster,” said the author of the children’s anthem Baby Beluga.
“The gadgetry and the technology can come later. Let’s all just take a deep breath and play with life.”
And, for the most part, Raffi lives by the motto too. He took a seven-year hiatus from recording music to pursue his other passions, mainly as a children’s advocate and crusader of environmental change.
He’s taken his celebrity status on the road and spoken at numerous conferences in support of his causes.
In February, he took his guitar to Ottawa and sang in honour of toxic-free fruits and vegetables.
“The idea is to have a good life, good food that you’re not afraid of eating. Any child would not vote for a corporation having the right to pollute his home or environment,” he said.
Raffi, who lives in Mayne, B.C., spent the last several years building up his Vancouver-based Troubadour Institute for Child Honouring, an organization dedicated to promoting children’s well-being.
The self-taught children’s expert (he has no kids of his own) stumbled onto the field by chance.
Raffi had his first play date in the early 1970s when his former wife, a nursery school teacher, invited him to bring his guitar into her classroom.
“Some early magic happened with me and the three- and four-year-olds,” he recalled.
The mild-mannered performer then began making music “with respect for the young listener” and has recorded 13 albums since.
In any given week over the past two decades, IO out of the top 25 best-selling children’s recordings belong to Raffi, his label boasts.
He’ll prove his love of playtime this fall when he embarks on a 15-date tour in Canada and the United States.
“It’s just wonderful for the music to come alive in the concert hall. It becomes a big love in,” he said of his rapport with tots.
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Minority Report wins showdown
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Tom Cruise and Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report won bragging nghts as the weekend’s top film, debutmg with $35.7 million US to edge the animated Lilo & Stitch, which opened with $35.3 million.
Final numbers issued yesterday showed both films came in below the box-office estimates their studios had released a day earlier — 20th Century Fox had pegged Minority Report at $36.9 million, and Disney had estimated Lilo & Stitch at $35.8 million.
On Sunday, Disney and other studios were tracking Lilo & Stitch ahead of Minority Report. Disney conceded the No. I slot after final numbers came in from theatres yesterday.
Actress nixed Monster's Ball role
NEW YORK (AP) — Angela Bassett says she turned down a lead role in the movie Monster’s Ball because she believed the character’s affair in the film was demeaning and stereotypical.
“It’s about character, darling,” she said in the current issue of Newsweek. “I wasn’t going to be a prostitute on film. I couldn’t do that because it’s such a stereotype about black women and sexuality.”
The actress said she didn’t mean to criticize Halle Berry, who won an Oscar for her Monster’s Ball role as a troubled waitress who had an affair with her husband’s executioner.
Bassett was one of several actresses who passed on the role.
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Louis Riel’s hanging hood now in Manitoba museum
WINNIPEG — The white cotton hood worn by Louis Riel when he was hanged in 1885 is among several new artifacts from the Metis hero’s life that were unveiled yesterday at the Musee de Saint-Boniface Museum.
Also on display was a beaded moccasin worn by Riel at his execution and grabbed from his body by souvenir seekers.
The Saint-Boniface museum now has both moccasins, along with two locks of hair — one lovingly attached to a postcard used to commemorate Riel as a hero and one likely cut from his corpse by someone less sympathetic to his cause of Metis rights.
David Chartrand, president of the Manitoba Metis Federation, hoped the exhibit would help combat the long-held notion that Riel was a mentally unstable traitor.
“It will be used to showcase a very important man who was murdered by his country for standing up for his people, for
his beliefs,” said Chartrand as he stood near Riel’s modest headstone near the museum. “I’m very proud.”
Manitoba Culture Minister Ron Lemieux said the new artifacts would help the museum commemorate a “hero and true leader,” who was one of the fathers of Manitoba.
The new acquisitions have also spurred the museum to revamp its one-room exhibit. Except for a small handful of pieces — such as a coat in the Museum of Civilization in Ottawa — the Saint-Boniface Museum’s collection is pretty nearly the extent of known Riel artifacts.
Museum staff are still working on the text panels, pictures and anecdotes that will accompany the artifacts, but they hope to have the work done by November, the 117th anniversary of Riel’s death.
After a brief trial, Riel was executed for leading the Northwest Rebellion, which was put down by government
forces at the Battle of Batoche.
The cotton hood was given to the museum by the Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada Regimental Museum in Toronto, which had several artifacts linked to Riel that it was not using.
Pierrette Boily, curator of the Saint-Boniface Museum, said the death hood was like the linings worn by soldiers under their hats to keep the sun and rain off the backs of their necks.
Turned around, the cap would have covered Riel’s face.
Making Riel’s final moments even more vivid is a one-minute Heritage Canada vignette that was deemed too jarring for television.
The museum is hoping to get the right video equipment to play the clip, which shows a close-up of an actor playing Riel as several voices from his trial are intermingled. The clip ends abruptly with Riel dropping from view as he is hanged.
— Canadian Press
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A Golf Weekend at Clear Lake
PRIZE An 11 P|ece Golf Club Set
• 2 nights at Elkhorn Resort & Conference Centre
• 2 rounds of golf at Clear Lake Golf Course
• Plus an 11 piece Golf Club Set
Here’s How To Play...
1. Look for the advertisers in today’s Brandon Sun with the ‘Golf Scramble’ border and Golf flag in their ads.
2. Simply clip out the ads of those advertisers and place them all in an envelope along with your name address and phone number.
3. Then mail or drop off your envelope to: Golf Scramble 2002, Brandon Sun, 501 Rosser Avenue, Brandon, MB, R7A 0K4.
4. All entries received prior to 4 p.m. Monday will be eligible for the previous week's draw for an 11 piece set of Golf Clubs.
5. All entries received will be eligible for the Grand Prize Draw to be made Tuesday, August 6, 2002.
6. Entries must include your name, address and phone number with a copy of all of the participating advertisers’ ads. (Allowances will be
made for ads placed back to back). Photocopies will not be accepted. Each entry must be in a separate envelope.
7. Entrants must be 18 years of age or older.
8. Grand Prize must be accepted as awarded. No cash value will be allowed.
9. Anyone may enter except employees of the Brandon Sun and their immediate families.
Our Participating Businesses Are
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• Smitty’s Restaurants