Raffi comes to London's Centennial Hall on February 2, 2014
Raffi's way: global troubadour publishes book, returns to London
London, ON - I'm a Beluga Grad. And if you grew up in the 1970s or 80s listening and singing along to the music of Raffi, you are too.
Canadian musician Raffi Cavoukian - better known to millions of fans around the world simply as Raffi - is the writer behind some of the most beloved children's songs of the past fifty years, among them 'Down by the Bay', 'Apples and Bananas', and - of course - 'Baby Beluga'.
Raffi returns to London's Centennial Hall this February as part of his #belugagrads concerts, a series of live shows that will allow the musician to reconnect with his original fans, and the kids that those fans are parenting.
"Let's just say it's been too long," Raffi said when SCENE asked if he could recall his last performance in the Forest City.
"I'm looking forward to singing with my London fans. We'll do many of the songs that people say made up the soundtrack of their childhoods - that's what Beluga Grads tell me. It's quite an honour [to have the songs remembered that way]," he said.
"It's going to be a lot of fun, the joy of being together, hearing each other's voices. People are going to put their cell phones away, and we're just going to have a good time," he added.
While Raffi is best-known for his music, he is also an active advocate on behalf of various environmental and social causes.
His progressive, compassionate personal philosophy is the guiding light for the Centre for Child Honouring, a communications hub and training ground founded by the musician to encourage global environmental awareness and education about the needs of the young.
Through the centre, Raffi works to advance the tenets of child honouring, which is described as "a vision, an organizing principle, and a way of life".
Through a child-first approach, the primacy of the human being's early years is affirmed as essential for a healthy society, and the environment is respected as the birthright of future generations.
The same profound sense of mission that motivated Raffi to found the Centre for Child Honouring has also drawn him into the digital frontier.
His recently published book #lightwebdarkweb (Homeland Press, 2013) is a thoughtful evaluation of the benefits and dangers poised to children - and to all of us - by our usage of wireless technologies, social networking, and the Internet as a whole.
Following the death of Amanda Todd - the BC teen who took her own life in 2012 after persistent blackmailing, cyber-bullying and physical assaults - Raffi described his reaction as "shocked, stunned and saddened".
Consequently, the musician co-wrote a letter to Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg urging systemic changes to social media platforms - including Facebook. He also instituted an Internet safety program with the Centre for Child Honouring, to provide some pragmatic guidelines for parents, teachers and kids figuring out the online world.
"But I felt that I wanted to do more, and I immediately felt that the call was in me to write a book on social media reform," Raffi said.
"When I scratched the issue of torment that Amanda was subjected to online, I just couldn't believe that the 'lightweb' - which is all the things we love about the Internet - could have a dark side so perilous that young users would be harassed and blackmailed into depression or suicide," he said.
"What is truly shocking is a year after Amanda's death, the predator that tormented her has not been identified, let alone any charges being laid. You'd think in this day and age, with all the surveillance going on - of all of us - you'd think a person would be identified," he continued.
"You'd think Facebook would have done everything they could to bring that person out, as it were. It's shocking that this doesn't happen. We are still, as a society, too slow to respond to such tragedies," he said.
"My book is hoping to save lives, to inform parents and educators about social media awareness and the call for reform," he added.
Catch the global troubadour when he returns to London's Centennial Hall (550 Wellington Street) on February 2, 2014 at 2pm. For tickets, call 519-672-1967 / 519-672-1968 or visit the Centennial Hall website. Proceeds from the show go to benefit the Centre for Child Honouring.