Raffi Cavoukian, children's singer (b at Cairo, Egypt 8 July 1948). Raffi's Armenian family came to Canada in 1958 and settled in Toronto. He began his career as a folksinger in coffee houses in 1970, but found his niche playing for young children four years later. Raffi recorded Singable Songs for the Very Young in 1976. It sold more than 300 000 copies in Canada alone and remains his best-selling album. Raffi performed hundreds of concerts and released a long string of gold- and platinum-certified albums - including More Singable Songs, Baby Beluga, Rise and Shine, One Light, One Sun and Everything Grows - until 1989, when the long-time environmentalist quit children's music to record Evergreen, Everblue. The album of ecology-themed songs for adults was a commercial failure but was widely used in environmental education. Raffi moved to Vancouver in 1990 and devoted himself to full-time ecology activism. Among his victories on that front was a campaign to eliminate "long-box" cardboard packaging for compact discs.
Raffi returned to music in 1994 with a children's album titled Bananaphone that earned him a JUNO AWARD for best children's album and a gold sales certification. The Juno-nominated Raffi Radio followed a year later. To mark the 20th anniversary of his debut album, Raffi's own Troubadour Music label released a three-record box set called The Singable Songs Collection in 1996. A number of country music stars - including Billy Gilman, Keith Urban, Marty Stuart, Lari White and Kathy Mattea - contributed to a 2001 tribute album of Raffi favourites called Country Goes Raffi. The artist unveiled Let's Play, his first new album in seven years, in 2002. Universal Music Canada released The Best of Raffi as part of its 20th Century Masters series in 2003.
Raffi wrote a 1999 autobiography entitled The Life of a Children's Troubadour, and he was the subject of a television documentary called Raffi: It Takes a Village that included footage from a 2000 concert in India. In recent years he has written songs inspired by the Dalai Lama and former South African president Nelson Mandela that he has performed in front of both men. Raffi's Troubadour Foundation has been actively promoting "child honouring," an integrated philosophy connecting the personal, cultural and planetary aspects of life, as a unifying method for restoring human and natural communities. BC's "Books for Babies" program, which was launched in 2005, provides every new parent in the province with a free child's book and musical CD. In its inaugural year, the book and CD were Raffi's Baby Beluga. Raffi is writing a book on child honouring that is scheduled for publication in 2006.
Raffi has recorded 13 albums and three concert videos that have sold more than 12 million units in North America. Seven songbooks and 15 picture books based on his music have combined to sell more than three million copies.
Raffi was honoured with the ORDER OF CANADA in 1983 and the ORDER OF BRITISH COLUMBIA in 2001. The Canadian Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences presented the Walt Grealis Special Achievement Award to him in 1990, while the SOCIETY OF COMPOSERS, AUTHORS AND MUSIC PUBLISHERS OF CANADA (SOCAN) gave him a Special Achievement Award in 2000 to pay respect to his contributions to Canada's musical heritage. Raffi is a recipient of the United Nations' Earth Achievement Award, and he has been granted honorary degrees from the University of Victoria and the University of British Columbia.