The first song celebrated children’s performer Charlotte Diamond wrote for her children was Slippery Fish and now, almost 30 years later, she has released it as a book and will have it at her concert in Nanaimo on June 14.
That song has been heard around the world and was on Diamond’s album 10 Carrot Diamond which reached gold certification and won a Juno Award in 1986.
The book is called Slippery Fish in Hawaii and its release came last fall at a time when Diamond was just finishing cancer treatments. Although it wasn’t an easy time for Diamond, like her songs, there was an overarching message and a positive ending.
“Out of that has come some new creativity,” said the artist who lives in Richmond.
During her breast cancer treatments last year she performed in the Vancouver International Children’s Festival with her Hug Bug Band. She said whenever she was feeling down music really helped her.
“Letting things flow out in a creative way, that takes us through the hard times and I want kids to realize that too, and I sing about it,” she said.
Once she finished her treatments she began writing songs for her grandsons and she felt a renewed interest in her music and in the power of personal experiences such as live shows, she said.
Her family show will be at the Genesis Christian Centre, June 14 at 11 a.m. on Jingle Pot Road in Nanaimo.
Diamond grew up listening to her mother sing to her all the time. Her mother was shy and not a performer, but she had a beautiful voice, and soon Diamond was singing harmonies with her at a young age.
“She sang with a lot of emotion and care and I think that gave me the grounding for my approach to songs,” she said. “They interpret ideas and emotion and thoughts and wishes and dreams.”
Diamond was born and raised in Vancouver and she graduated from the University of B.C. with a Bachelor of Secondary Education, majoring in zoology and French. She took further studies at Laval University in Quebec, in French and then taught science, French and music at the junior-high school level for 12 years.
During that time she studied classical voice and became the vocal director for school musical productions. She also formed a large choir and was in a folk quartet. After her own two children were born she began writing songs for them and also worked at an alternate school where she adapted musicals for teenagers.
At a school fundraiser, organizers managed to book Pete Seeger to perform and Diamond’s quartet opened for him in the Queen Elizabeth Theatre.
“There were 3,000 in the audience and another 200 on stage—because they had oversold the show—and people were sitting behind us as well as in front of us,” she laughed. “What an experience.”
Diamond sang lead vocals with her group and then watched Seegar engage the whole audience with his show. She later got to talk with him over dinner and heard his views on music. She was very inspired, she said, and went on to record 10 Carrot Diamond and engage thousands of people around North America with her own shows. The best known songs on that album were Four Hugs a Day, I am a Pizza, and All the Nations like Bananas.
She now has made 13 recordings, three of them in French and two in Spanish, and she’s won numerous awards. Her latest album, 24 Carrot Diamond, was released in 2011and features 24 of her best-known songs, recorded over the past 25 years.
One of the strongest features of her music, she said, is the fact that there are always children singing in the background and joining in with her.
Similarly, at her shows, she likes people to be engaged and move to the music. Although kids can watch and learn about things on TV, something magical happens at a live show when they are engaged with an artist or group, she said.
“They’re in a world of imagination and it’s a world of possibilities,” she said, adding that she’s also singing for the parents at her shows.
Diamond wrote Slippery Fish for her children many years ago and now her son, Matt Diamond, is launching his own music career and will join her for the performance in Nanaimo. He is 38 years old and is a great singer, she said, their voices blend nicely together and he also adds some humour to the show.
Tickets are $15 (babes in arms are free) and can be found at the Qualicum Toy Shop on Second Avenue as well as at Kool and Child in Nanaimo. For more on Charlotte Diamond visit her website www.charlottediamond.com.