When the health lockdown happened more than a year ago, Charlotte Diamond thought about how to reach her audiences — those young and young-at-heart.
She knew families, like her own, were going to be separated for an unknown amount of time so the children’s entertainer turned to music and YouTube.
First, she wrote a new song called Wash Your Hands, based on her tune Octopus (Slippery Fish), and filmed the music video in a forest near her home in Sechelt.
She also translated the video into French and Spanish.
As well, Diamond sent out fun video messages to encourage her viewers to stay home, connect by phone or online and stay six feet away from other people.
She and her son, Matt, who lives nearby with his wife and son, Fraser, also sang about staying in social bubbles, in her new song Prickly Porcupine and Spiny Sea Urchin.
And she produced videos for the Canadian Parents for French BC and Yukon and uploaded recordings for teachers and the Surrey International Children’s Festival.
On Saturday, the Juno award winner has top billing as she takes the virtual stage for Festival Coquitlam’s first concert of the weekend, for the Teddy Bear Picnic.
Speaking with the Tri-City News, Diamond said she and Matt will play new pieces as well as favourites such as Four Hugs a Day, The Garden Song and Ottie the Otter; their pre-recorded performances were filmed in her garden with blooming rhododendrons and azaleas.
She’s pleased to return to the Teddy Bear Picnic — albeit in a virtual format. “I feel quite comfortable being out there for online,” she said. “I like to present puppets and props, and comedy. You can do different things being online and you correct the videos later.”
Still, Diamond, a former French and music teacher at New Westminster secondary, said she misses the energy from the crowds, “moving and dancing and singing all together” as she did in the past in School District 43, Terry Fox Theatre and at other local venues.
Jackie Weinkam, chairperson for Festival Coquitlam, told the Tri-City News that the board wanted to bring back the Teddy Bear concerts after last year’s cancellation.
“It was hard not to put it on in 2020,” she said. “We felt like something was definitely missing and we didn’t want another year to go by without something.”
“We had to pivot,” Weinkam said.
With the help of children’s musician Mr. I — aka Yurgen Ilaender — who is on the Festival Coquitlam board, the Teddy Bear concerts moved online to present one-hour shows over two days, with pre-recorded content provided by the entertainers from their homes or studios.
Weinkam singled out the video by Kung Jaadee (translated as Woman in the Moon), a traditional Haida singer, drummer and storyteller who performs on Saturday.
For Sunday’s show, which starts at noon, Juno award nominee Will Stroet — best known for Will’s Jams — takes the virtual stage for a 15-minute concert to play “his most popular, high-energy hits at seen on CBC Kids television,” his spokesperson said in an email. “Kids and their parents can join in the actions and sing-along choruses to upbeat songs with witty wordplay.”
Weinkham reminds young viewers to bring their teddy bears to watch the two concerts, which are suitable for ages 10 and younger and can be seen via the Festival Coquitlam Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/festivalcoquitlam.ca.
The concerts will be up for a week on the Facebook page.
Meanwhile, as health restrictions currently don’t allow for large gatherings, Festival Coquitlam is also changing the way it’s presenting the Teddy Bear parade.
Rather than a procession from Coquitlam city hall and up Pinetree Way to Town Centre Park, the “parade” will instead be a slideshow that features decorated front porches and patios of participating Tri-City residents’ homes.
On June 26 and 27, Festival Coquitlam representatives will snap photos for the “Teddy Bears @ Home Virtual Parade” that will also be uploaded to the Facebook page.
To take part, visit festivalcoquitlam.ca to fill out the form, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The virtual “parade” will be available in July.