Sharon and Bram

Exclusive Interview with Sharon and Bram

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Chatting with Children’s Musical Group Sharon and Bram

I’m six years old and sitting in the back of the class (the last name starts with T … long story). “Okay class,” said Madame Jean. “We have a special treat for you today.” I scratched my head wondering what was going on. A small group who introduced themselves as Sharon, Lois & Bram walked into the room with musical instruments. I sat up in my chair to get a better look. They started to sing children’s music that I never heard before.  “…It also has some actions…they are really fun to do…and now we would like to sing this special song…with all of you.”  Everyone in the class was intrigued by what they were hearing called Skinnamarink.  

Skinnamarinky dinky dink
Skinnamarinky do,
I love you!

“Everybody now.”

Skinnamarinky dinky dink
Skinnamarinky do,
I love you!

“Put up the sun.”

I love you in the morning,
And in the afternoon
I love you in the evening,
Underneath the moon…

Skinnamarinky dinky dink
Skinnamarinky do,
I love you!

Fast forward a few years to the year 2020.  I read a lovely quote from Sharon and Bram: “We love singing with our audiences; the sound of families singing together and the expressions of delight on the faces of parents and children as they share the music, bring us deep satisfaction”.  Other well-loved favourites from the group include: “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain”, “Five Little Monkeys”, “One Elephant” and “Tingalayo”.  I was really hoping that I would have the opportunity to talk to them. I reached out and I am truly grateful to share this interview “with all of you”.

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Skinnamarink children's music Sharon and Bram Since 1978, Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison have been pre-eminent in all aspects of family entertainment across North America as members of the trio “Sharon, Lois & Bram”. Together, the threesome produced over twenty recordings, beginning with their iconic 'One Elephant, Deux Elephants', three song-books, six national TV specials, sixty-five episodes of The Elephant Show, and fifty-two of Skinnamarink TV. They have appeared in every major concert hall in Canada, and many in the United States including Carnegie Hall, The Lincoln Center and the White House in Washington just to name a few. They have received countless awards, including Gold and Platinum Records and JUNO awards for Best Children’s Album. They have sold millions of albums worldwide.  ​  Sharon and Bram have carried on together since Lois Lillenstein stepped aside from live performing in 2000. This incarnation of one of North America’s most popular family acts ranges from a “sweet and simple” folksy duo performance, to a larger production featuring members of the versatile Skinnamarink Band.  ​  A Sharon and Bram show is a sing-along concert for the entire family, featuring such well-loved favourites as “She’ll Be Coming ‘Round the Mountain", “Five Little Monkeys", “One Elephant", “Tingalayo", and, of course, “Skinnamarink".  ​  “We love singing with our audiences; the sound of families singing together and the expressions of delight on the faces of parents and children as they share the music, bring us deep satisfaction”, say Sharon and Bram.  ​  Sharon and Bram, with Lois, have supported many social welfare programmes in Canada and the US, such as school breakfasts for learning, encouraging parents to inoculate their children and, internationally, as Goodwill Ambassadors for UNICEF in North and South America, for which they received the Danny Kaye Humanitarian Award.  ​  For their years of work providing the best in participatory music for children and their families, Sharon and Bram have been inducted into The Order of Canada, the highest honour in the country.
Sharon, Lois and Bram

1. Out of curiosity, I always wondered what kind of music you were performing before creating the group?

“Both of us were rooted in Folk Music and that was what we were doing for both children and adults prior to recording our first album.”

2. From my research, I heard Bill Usher contributed to your style. Can you tell us more about Bill Usher and how he contributed to the group?

“Bill Usher was our initial producer of the first four albums. He was a wonderful percussion player whose rhythm and beats enhanced many of the songs we recorded on those initial albums. Some of the highlights of his contributions were that he introduced us to the African Sounds on Che Che Kooley and taught us (with his grandfather leading) Father Papered the Parlour which was great fun to all sing together.”

3. I grew up watching ‘The Elephant Show’ on CBC. Can you tell us about the show and the messages you were trying to convey to the viewers?

“It was never our intention to “convey” messages. We wanted to share our love of music and singing with children and their families. We all had common values of inclusion, diversity, respect, etc. and believe that they were reflected in the way we interacted with the children on the show and that those values were received by those who watched it.”

4. Where did the title ‘Skinnamarink’ come from?

“Lois “collected” the song Skinnamarink from one of her cousins in Chicago who had learned it at summer camp.”

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5. For those who may want to buy the perfect gift for any season, can you tell us about your children’s picture book Skinnamarink that is now available in stores?

“We are so very proud of Sharon, Lois & Bram’s Skinnamarink because we believe it to be a book for all occasions and for all ages. We hope it becomes the go-to baby gift for newborns, at Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day as well as for Birthdays, Christmas or whatever gift-giving celebrations you partake in. The message of I Love You is universal. We hope that anyone who looks through this book will find themselves on the pages and will also find different things to look at each time they go through it.”

To those that are reading this interview, do you have a story about Lois, Sharon, and Bram?

Skinnamarink children's music Sharon and Bram  "Charming, Irresistible" NEW YORK TIMES "The cheers are THUNDEROUS! The public loves them... they really are Canadian Stars" TORONTO STAR "Contagious...makes music a family affair" MONTREAL GAZETTE "Absolutely dazzling" BOSTON GLOBE "Simply the best musicians for children in North America, and probably the world" TORONTO STAR "Childhood should always be so much fun!" TORONTO STAR "Try 'Sharon, Lois & Bram' and watch preschoolers' eyes light up from coast to coast" LOS ANGELES TIMES "They are so well-loved, by virtue of their wit, perceptiveness and ability, that children want to be like them" ALL-MUSIC GUIDE (BOB HINKLE) "Endearing, lively, swingy, and jolly... makes you feel like a kid again" MONTREAL GAZETTE "Best thing since peanut butter!" TORONTO STAR "Better than recess" TORONTO STAR "The hottest thing since high-top sneakers" PEOPLE MAGAZINE (1989) "Contagious! The trio's affection for children comes across instantly... demonstrates that music is an integral part of life" VARIETY  "Fabulous" NEW YORK DAILY NEWS
Sharon and Bram

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Jovin Tardif is a freelance writer, storyteller, interviewer, reviewer and conversation starter.
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