Family Literacy Week celebrations in Campbell River ended on a high note, with popular children’s entertainer Charlotte Diamond performing Jan. 30 for a full house at the Tidemark Theatre.
Kim Emsley-Leik, managing director of the Tidemark Theatre, was happy to partner with Campbell River Literacy Now to bring Charlotte to Campbell River for this free family concert, which sold out only four hours after the free tickets became available.
Kat Eddy from Campbell River Literacy Now had contacted Emsley-Leik saying she was interested in doing a show at the theatre, and they began discussing a partnership, she said.
“Mostly, it’s to promote literacy and getting families involved in literacy,” said Emsley-Leik. “It’s fantastic. I love having all the kinds here. One of the strategic priorities of the Tidemark is to get more youth into the venue, so promoting and presenting a show with Campbell River Literacy Now, we’re able to do that. You have to sort of bring in the youth to develop your next audience.”
Emsley-Leik says the Tidemark does one free for kids each year – last year, it was Bobs and Lolo – and if any other organizations would like to partner to present a show, the theatre’s doors “are always open.”
Six-year-old Spencer Montgomery and his mother Kristi won the VIP contest through 2Day FM., receiving front-row tickets to the hour-long concert, a meet and greet with Charlotte and dinner at Boston Pizza. Spencer even got to go up on stage and look at everything Diamond had set up for her concert.
Spencer had seen Charlotte in concert once before when he was two years old, and he said getting to meet her this time was “good.”
When asked what his favourite song is, Spencer excitedly replied, “all of them.”
Kristi listened to Charlotte’s music when she was young and was excited to share this experience with her son.
“It’s really neat for it to come full circle; it’s neat that Spencer can listen to her too,” she said.
Charlotte, who performed with her son Matthew, has sung in Campbell River four or five times before and was excited to be back.
“It’s a very supportive community for the arts and a great theatre,” she said.
Charlotte says she has had three generations and even four come to her concerts, with everyone in the family being able to sing along.
“That’s great family bonding,” she said. “And I always wanted to write songs that were timeless, like ‘Four Hugs A Day,’ ‘Families of Crows’ or ‘Ottie the Otter’ – songs that celebrate nature and celebrate family and being together and being creative together.”
Matthew was playing music for adults before transitioning to children’s music and performing with his mother, and he says with a laugh that it’s a lot nicer to place a show where you are loading out at 3 p.m. instead of 3 a.m.
“It’s sure a lot of fun,” he said. “I had a wonderful time performing here. It’s an amazing theatre, and the audience was just fantastic. It’s one of the best shows I think I’ve done. I can’t wait to come back.”
Charlotte’s husband Harry met her in 1971 when she was a French teacher.
“When she teaches workshops, her main thing is to promote music as a means of education,” he said. “She’s fond of using music to get children interested in the French language. When she was a French teacher, she always had her guitar with her. She has been involved in literacy programs before in Surrey and Richmond, and this group in Campbell River has been so supportive of Charlotte and her music. For the last several years, we’ve been selling Charlotte’s music at a low price so Campbell River Literacy is able to put her music in new baby welcome baskets. So a lot of the families already know the music. It’s great that we are able to come here with the support of Campbell River Literacy Now and the Tidemark Theatre.”
Harry believes there are several reasons why Charlotte’s music has become so timeless.
“No. 1, she loves kids, she loves what she’s doing and she has songs that are memorable,” he said.
A song like “Octopus (Slippery Fish)” has gone around the world, even to China, and Harry says that was the first song Charlotte wrote for their children when they were in preschool. After she wrote that song, the parents at the preschool suggested she should make an album. The album 10 Carrot Diamond was recorded on a ghetto blaster in their home, and they ended up submitting it for a Juno nomination even though they didn’t even know what a Juno Award was. Charlotte ended up winning the award, and 30 years later, she is still recording and performing, releasing her 14th album, Diamonds by the Sea, with Matthew in 2015.
Before writing children’s music, Charlotte was in a folk group called Bargain at Half the Price.
“On one occasion, they did the warmup act for Pete Seeger at the Orpheum [in Vancouver] and we got to meet him – but what do you say to an icon?” said Harry.