Thursday, February 02, 2017

After 40 Years, Best of Raffi A Long Time Coming

I'm going to keep this review as politically correct as I possibly can. Suffice to say that there are polarizing figures in all walks of life – political, sports, the arts. Amazing as it may sound, the uttering of one iconic children's music performer – Raffi – conjures up a whole host of emotions in adults. "Oh that's little kid music," "Today's kids don't want to hear that," "Wow - what a blast from the past, is he still around?"

It's hard to believe, yet at the same time it seems so obvious, that Raffi has been an integral part of the children's music scene for more than 40 years. So the release of BEST OF RAFFI would appear, on the surface, to be very overdue. Yet he took a long sabbatical from recording children's music, only to reappear in 2014 and release two CDs (LOVE BUG and OWL SINGALONG) in a 14-month period.

The saga of Raffi includes his sojourn into advocacy – In 1997, Raffi developed a holistic philosophy called Child Honouring. He cultivated A Covenant for Honouring Children (Raffi’s poetic declaration of our duty to the young), along with its nine principles. The Covenant and Principles are both circulated widely in public health and education circles. There's also Red Hood Project, a movement for online security for children and youth. Concerned about the effects of digital media, especially on children, Raffi wrote Lightweb Darkweb: Three Reasons To Reform Social Media Before it Re-Forms Us in 2013. The book offers three reasons for social media reform: safety, intelligence, and sustainability. Raffi highlights children’s developmental needs as a key missing consideration in the digital revolution.

While doing this review, I found myself singing along to such witty silliness:

Ring ring ring ring ring ring ring banana phone
Ping pong ping pong ping pong ping panana phone
It's no Bologna, it ain't a phony
My cellular bananular phone

It all comes around full circle to the music, and songs that bring a smile to generations, now referred to as Beluga Grads. "Bananaphone," "Everything Grows," "Down By the Bay," "One Light One Sun," and "Baby Beluga," his most well-known song. Raffi remained steadfast that he would not overly commercial his material and refused to produce a film based on "Baby Beluga," as well as other offers. It's conceivable that the world's best-selling children's entertainer could have made a mint with such ventures. But integrity, once sacrificed, cannot be repurchased. Unlike these classic songs, which you can now get in one simple collection.

BEST OF RAFFI is available February 10 from Raffi's website, Amazon, and iTunes.

Here is the video for the title track from last year's "Owl Singalong":

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