Burps, pizzas, ‘Hug Bugs’ and Charlotte Diamond

In Charlotte Diamond’s 25 years as a children’s entertainer, she knows a few things about entertaining children.

She knows that modern children need to move around.

And they develop language and thought processes when they use their imagination.

And, just the thought of a humongous whale letting out a humongous burp will have them rolling on the floor with laughter.

This is why the Yukon Child Care Association Conference invited her up as a keynote speaker and to offer a show at Yukon College April 16 and 17.

She will explain that her song, Octopus, which children invariably call “The Slippery Fish Song”, is “immediate and very visual”.

“I’m a visual singer,” she says over the phone. “I sing about topics that kids see in their heads and I find ways to enhance that.”

Yup, there is a lot going on in a Charlotte Diamond performance. It isn’t just banana hats and a wide-ranging voice — “I’m a mezzo-soprano, I can make all kinds of voices from low growls to high octave leaps” — as she finds ways to educate and entertain children.

She recommends that teachers and parents check out her website at www.charlottediamond.com and there they will find her “P.R.I.Z.E. Method” of teaching while having fun with songs.

“P is for props and puppets to make the words come alive visually.

“R is for rhythm and movement, which helps teach the song and get them involved.”

Diamond says her All the Nations Like Bananas song always gets people up and moving while they learn about Nicaragua and the many ways to eat bananas.

“I is for imagination. Let’s pretend and go into another world … it’s a very social thing.

“Z is for zipper songs, that can make new songs by taking out, say, ‘Pizza’ from I Am a Pizza, and making it, I Am a Bubble.

“And E is for echoing, the easiest way to teach a song.

“I do a lot of echoing.”

But, again, there is more to a living-breathing Charlotte Diamond performing at a Charlotte Diamond concert: “Society is changing and kids are so computer literate, they take for granted all of the wonderful graphics they see … it is part of their world.

“So it is really important to go back to the things that help kids grow and develop character.

“It is so important that kids be loved and they can have a hug whenever they want one; they can crawl up onto a lap and get cuddled.

“And to have someone say to them, when they are having a bad day, ‘Don’t worry, this will change’.”

The education of Diamond is rooted in a lifetime of studying music — “I hit a really high note in I Am A Pizza, but I studied opera” — that saw performing with local folk groups and intros for Pete Seeger and Tom Paxton.

When children came along, she started writing songs for them and developed a preschool music program in her community.

When her children were 7 and 10, she decided to risk her entire teachers’ pension of $25,000 to produce her first album, 10 Carrot Diamond.

In a twist that sounds like it came from a made-for-television movie, it beat out the giants in the children’s entertainment industry to take a Juno Award in 1986.

She had an idea it would do well because a cassette tape she made, on the cheap, sold 500 copies in her community.

Although she now has 13 albums in English, French and Spanish, 10 Carrot Diamond remains her best-selling album.

Along the way, she has won five Parents’ Choice Awards and three American Library Association Awards.

Information on her concerts at Yukon College April 16 and 17 are available from Nicole at 334-1099 after 3 p.m.

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