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A Diamond in the Grove
It’s been 30 years since Charlotte Diamond first stepped onto a stage and began delighting children and adults alike with her catchy original songs.
Each time she plays Octopus (Slippery Fish), The Laundry or I Am a Pizza, the Richmond-based performer is accustomed to looking out over the crowd and seeing her young audience singing along with their favourite songs. Even the ones who are too small to know all the words will try to gesture along with the sign language that she incorporates into her act, she said.
It’s been happening that way for three decades, and still, entertaining children holds the same shine for Diamond that it did when she was just starting out.
Perhaps it’s not too surprising, since her chosen career was inspired all those years ago, by the time she spent singing to her own sons, Matthew and Tom.
Today, as the grandmother of two boys — aged seven and four — she has a new source from which to draw her energy and inspiration.
“Maybe that’s why I’m so active at this age,” she said.
“Experience makes it easy to do shows . . . . Now I’m introducing new songs that I’m developing with my grandsons. When I’m on stage, I’m definitely enjoying myself.
“It is amazing how fulfilling my music career has been and how the music continues with each new generation.”
On Saturday, June 21 Diamond will step onto the stage in Langley for the first time in several years, with a performance at Walnut Grove Family Day celebrations.
“This is the busiest I think I’ve ever been,” said Diamond, who performs all over Canada and the U.S. and has even done shows in Costa Rica.
She also has a new board book coming out for small children. Titled Slippery Fish, it is illustrated by a Hawaiian artist.
However busy she is, Diamond will always make time for smaller, local events like Walnut Grove Family Day.
“At the 30-year mark of my career, I like to do community events. I think they’re so important,” she said, acknowledging Kim Wishinski of Kids in the Grove, who is sponsoring Diamond’s performance.
The Langley woman’s uncle, Bob Wishinski, who has since passed away, played keyboard in Diamond’s Hug Bug Band.
These days, her own son, Matthew Diamond, now 38, joins her on stage, playing electric guitar and singing back-up vocals and harmonies.
“He’s very captivating on stage,” said Diamond. And his presence is something that appeals to the parents in the crowd, who are of a similar age.
“They’ll pick up on some of the goofy things Matt does. He’s always pulling tricks on mom,” she chuckled.
In addition to entertaining, Diamond, a former middle school teacher, remains dedicated to educating children through her music.
Her song, Leave the World a Little Bit Better, for example, is less about making her audience giggle than it is about helping them to understand their role in making the world a cleaner, kinder place.
For Diamond, that also means doing her small part, to draw the world together with song.
She had the opportunity to just do that on three separate trips to Costa Rica, in 1997, ’98 and 2001 — visits which were facilitated by Unicef, the First Lady of the U.S. and the Canadian Embassy.
With the help of a friend in Mexico, Diamond, who also performs in French, translated some of her songs into Spanish.
“That was so fun, working with preschoolers and with adults and whole families.
“I think that cemented my confidence that I could perform and record in Spanish,” she said.
Whether she’s playing in Central America or a Spanish speaking area of the U.S., Diamond is tickled when her young audience starts singing Soy Una Pizza (I Am a Pizza) or Todo El Mundo Come Banana (All the Nations Like Banana) with her.
“They need to know to be proud of their language,” she said. “And wherever we come from, we need to be proud of our language.”
The third annual Walnut Grove Family Day celebration takes place on June 21, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Walnut Grove Community Park, 8919 Walnut Grove Dr.
Diamond takes the stage at 11:30 a.m.
In addition to Diamond’s performance, there will be entertainment by local talent Bird Dawg, Cambree Lovesy, Kristal Barret and Mike Steen.
Other activities will include games for all ages, Remax balloon and bouncy castle, pony rides, petting zoo, clowns, face painting, bingo and plenty of food.