Raffi Cavoukian is an Egyptian-born Canadian singer-songwriter, and life-long children's entertainer with a string of gold and platinum-selling recordings in North America. These include his classic “Baby Beluga” song with its beloved melody and lyrics. His pioneering commitment to honouring his young fans played a role in changing the way we view children's music. Raffi founded his own record label called Troubadour, and has dedicated himself to "rescuing" children's recordings from sub-par quality. He was awarded the Fred Rogers Integrity Award in 2006.
"The young child, I regard as a genius."
He holds a firm belief that children's screen exposure should be limited, and they should never be directly marketed to under any circumstances. Raffi, whose music blends folk, reggae, ragtime, gospel, jazz, country, and calypso influences, has remained faithful to his non-commercial approach. As a result, during his thirty-year career as a children's music superstar, he's refused all offers for commercial shows and endorsements — even turning down a film adaptation of "Baby Beluga", if it would include merchandising or direct marketing. Raffi has refused to play in theaters larger than 3,000 seats with ticket prices no more than $8.50.
Raffi is also a social activist who has struggled for non-violence and against war, protection of the environment, and economic equality. He's aimed his messages at the generation who grew up with his children's music, which he's called "Beluga Grads", with whom he hopes he can strike a special chord. In 2004 he published this prescription for our our respect for our children should inform our political decision-making.
"I’m not interested in maximizing capital, I’m interested in a society that maximizes the goodwill and the resiliency of its children."
Along with Dr. Sharna Olfman, Raffi co-edited an anthology called Child Honouring: How to Turn this World Around, which introduces a philosophy for respecting and raising children, and restore both our communities and ecosystems to thriving success. The book's foreword is written by the 14th Dalai Lama. His album Resisto Dancing: Songs of Compassionate Revolution is the companion music record album for that book. After learning details surrounding the online bullying, exploitation and ultimate suicide of teenager Amanda Todd in 2012, Raffi and his Centre for Child Honouring co-founded the Red Hood Project for protecting kids online.
He recently published a new book called Lightweb Darkweb: Three Reasons To Reform Social Media Before it Re-Forms Us, which examines the benefits and dangers of the internet, and our embrace of social media.
Raffi Cavoukian is a member of Upstream's Advisory Board, and recently participated in an interview with Ryan Meili on a variety of topics, including Child Honouring and the Social Determinants of Health.