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Raffi Cavoukian, CM, OBC, is a music producer, author, entrepreneur, systems thinker, and the founder of Child Honouring, a vision for global restoration. Once called “the most popular children’s singer in the English-speaking world”, Raffi is well-loved by the children of the '70s, '80s and early '90s with such all-time hits as "Bananaphone," "Baby Beluga," "Down by the Bay," "Shake My Sillies Out," and "Schmenge Polka."
Born in 1948 in Cairo, Egypt, to Armenian parents, he spent his early years in Egypt before emigrating with his family to Canada in 1958, eventually settling in Toronto, Ontario. His mother named him after the Armenian poet Raffi. His father Arto Cavoukian was a well-known portrait photographer with a studio on Bloor Street in Toronto. His brother Onnig Cavoukian, known as "Cavouk", is also a famous portrait photographer. His sister is Ann Cavoukian, Ontario's Information and Privacy Commissioner. Success seems to run in the family.
In the early 1970s, Raffi frequented a guitar store near Yonge and Wellesley called Millwheel, where he met other developing Canadian musicians such as David Wilcox and John Lacey. Raffi ran a coffee house at the University of Toronto up until 1980. He befriended John Lacey, a folk guitarist from Oakville, Ontario, who helped Raffi improve his finger picking (John went on to become a steel guitar player). Raffi continued playing folk guitar in various coffee houses in Toronto and Montreal before hitchhiking to Vancouver in 1972 to find "fame and fortune". He returned to Toronto after a few years and was invited to sing for a Toronto public school. Despite his own hesitations about singing for kids, he was an immediate success and thus began his career entertaining children.
Raffi's recent musical work focuses on social and environmental causes and appeals to the generation who grew up with his children's music ("Beluga Grads") to effect change in the world. He also promotes those causes through his books, academic lectures and as a speaker. In 2007, Raffi wrote and produced the single, "Cool It", a rockabilly call to action on global warming, recorded with Dr. David Suzuki in the chorus. "Cool It" was the theme song for Dr. Suzuki's recent Canadian tour to promote action on climate change.
Raffi advocates for a child's right to live free of commercial exploitation and he has consistently refused all commercial endorsement offers. Raffi's company has never directly advertised nor marketed to children. In 2005, he sent an open letter to Ted Rogers of Rogers Wireless, urging them to stop marketing cell phones to children. He has also turned down a film proposal for "Baby Beluga" because of the nature of the funding, which was based on exploitative advertising and marketing.
Raffi is currently the president of Troubadour Music Inc., a triple-bottom-line company he founded to produce and promote his work according to his ethical standards.
- http://www.raffinews.com/ - Official website