I am not a "Beluga Grad," but for many reasons, I am an ardent fan of Raffi. I find the putdowns of his music to be sort of like putdowns of the Beatles -- sure, you can say it, but to somehow suggest that Raffi (or the Beatles) wasn't a) very successful, and b) very talented is to be c) very
stupid lazy in your criticism. (We try not to use the word "stupid" 'round here.) People sometimes use Raffi and Barney interchangeably, which makes me wonder if they've ever listened to either of them.
Now, I totally get some of that criticism, and I am not a huge fan of Raffi's later work (especially as compared to his first three albums, which still get played at our house). But the man had a knack for simple but effective arrangements and, oh, that voice. In more recent years, Raffi has given up recording music for kids, and turned his attention to a variety of projects, including the Center for Child Honoring, a non-profit group Raffi founded "dedicated to advancing Child Honouring as a universal ethic, an organizing principle for societal transformation." I haven't enjoyed the music he's recorded recently very much, but the song he recorded in the wake of Egypt's social uprising, is, I think, a reminder of both his songcraft skills and his emotive voice.
Raffi - "Tweet Me Right" (The Cairo Tango) [YouTube]
And for those of you looking for something a little bit earlier in his career, here's "Haru Ga Kita," originally recorded for his 1987 album Everything Grows, performed on Broadway.
Raffi - "Haru Ga Kita" [YouTube]