Riveting Riffs Logo One Sharon & Bram and Friends "Talk About Peace"
Sharon and Randi Hampson Photo One

In 2019 Sharon & Bram and  Friends, recorded the song “Talk About Peace,” written by Sharon’s late husband and Randi Hampson's father Joe Hampson of the iconic Canadian Folk group The Travellers. Earlier this year, with COVID-19 ravaging much of the world the now duo of Sharon and Randi decided to enlist the help of some friends and created a music video of the song (performed as Sharon & Bram and Friends). Sharon you may recall is the lone active member of Sharon, Lois & Bram, the popular children’s entertainers for four decades. Lois Lilienstein passed away a few years ago and Bram Morrison retired in 2019.

For the purposes of this interview we are going to depart from traditional journalism style and just use first names.

“Bram is my neighbor, so I went to his house and filmed him. I filmed my mom (Sharon) and I filmed my kids and me. Then I sent the recording to the rest of the people that you saw in the video and they filmed themselves in their homes,” says Randi.

To which Sharon adds, “By then everyone was in quarantine. We had recorded this song last year and some of the musicians in the video were on the recording and they had toured with us, so they were familiar with “Talk About Peace,” but other than the ones that Randi mentioned everyone else participated from home, while in quarantine or with their families. I think that is incredible.”

“The pretty brunette singing in the video is Jacy Dawn Valeras and she assembled all of the pieces. She tried to give everyone their little moment to shine and she tried to find the best vocal representations for each part of the song. I think it sounds really good.

Sharon and Randi Hampson Photo TwoJacy lives in Nashville and she was a singer, songwriter, and performer for many years. She is also a friend who first connected with us through writing a fan letter to Lois when Lois was dying. She didn’t know that Lois was sick, and she just reached out and she connected with Sharon. A friendship grew out of that,” says Randi.  

Sharon continues, “Jacy grew up on Sharon, Lois & Bram and she is devoted to us. For her to be doing any work with us is a great pleasure and a compliment. She is very talented, and we are very fond of her.”

As for the song, Randi says, “My dad wrote the lyrics, probably fifty years ago and I think he wrote it during the time of the Vietnam war. It was probably a response to that. Recently, I updated some of the lyrics, but (mostly) in the end we decided the way it was written stood on its own.”

Sharon notes that “Talk About Peace,” is just as relevant today, as when it was originally written, “As Randy said, he wrote it fifty years ago and with all that is going on in the world now, it seemed appropriate to record it again. Bram and I during our last year of touring sang it all the time. We had also sung it many years earlier for an Elephant Show during a big annual event in Toronto. We worried that maybe some of the parents would feel it was too strong of a message, but Randi had an (instance) when someone thanked her for bringing that message to the children.”

“After the meet and greet concert a woman came up to me and she said we do not sing peace songs with our children anymore and we really need this now. I asked her if she thought the message was too adult and she said absolutely not. I was very happy to hear that,” says Randi.

Continuing Randi adds, “Jacy and I were talking about how crazy COVID has been and how difficult it is to not be together. We were trying to think of something positive and creative that we could do that would have meaning. We decided together that this would be a really fun thing to do My wish and fantasy has always been for my father’s song to endure and to continue to have legs. When I was a kid and I went to overnight camp I was delighted to discover that they were singing it at my camp. They knew it completely independent of my family and me.”

We could not help, but tease Sharon and Randi about the fact there are not any elephants in the music video for “Talk About Peace.” Fans of Sharon, Lois & Bram will recall the live skits with elephants and The Elephant Show, a popular television program that was broadcast from 1984 to 1988 in Canada and during the last two years on the Nickelodeon station in the United States.

Sharon replies, “Randi shot video in my house and Bram’s house. Bram’s house is full of elephants. His late wife started collecting elephants when we were recording our first album. It is remarkable that wherever he was standing there was not an elephant somewhere in the background. I have some as well, but I don’t hold a candle to him when it comes to how many elephants. We love elephants.

It started with us having to name the first record, and we began to sing, “One Elephant, Deux Éléphants,” and it was a nice name for the album. It is a charming song. We were trying to think of a name for our record company, which we were creating to make the record and we came up with the idea of Elephant Records. We liked the idea of elephants as a family kind of an animal. It felt like a good name.

Then, when we were recording the album, we were in an area of Toronto called Kensington and Bram’s wife went strolling in Kensington and she found three little elephants for us, as a little present right at the beginning. When we did our very first concert, we were singing the elephant song and we borrowed a costume from the Toronto Dance Theater, because we thought it would be fun to have a dancing elephant in the show. It wasn’t a clever marketing campaign, but it just unfolded in a natural way. Elephants became an important part of our lives.

I can tell you that we are doing our second children’s book and the working title is One Elephant. We hope that it will be released in the spring of 2022 and I have written additional words for the book.”

Sharon talks about the first book, Skinnamarink, which has turned into a best-seller, “When we were first approached to do the book, we said if we just do the book the way the song exists, it will not be a book, it will just be a pamphlet. It needs more words. Randi said let me take a crack at the new lyrics. She got busy and created new lyrics, which reflected the love story that we wanted to tell through that song. It is a story for all children, in all places and in all situations. We wanted it to be the kind of book that every child who looked at it would see himself or herself in it. The lyrics that Randi created and the wonderful graphics by Qin Leng, who was the illustrator for that book carried that message. The response to the Skinnamarink book has been outstanding.”

“We have a lot of adult purchasers for the Skinnamarink book and they grew up on the song. It is almost like a coffee table book for adult fans and a number of people buy it as a baby shower gift,” says Randi.

Songs like “Skinnamarink” and “Talk About Peace,” send valuable messages to children in a fun way and they resonate with adults as well. Take for instance a song written many years ago and revisited on the 2019 album Sharon, Bram & Friends, “Different,” with words like,  How can anything be wrong with being different / We are all different and having a ball / If you don’t know anybody who is different / Then you don’t know anybody at all.”

Between 1997 and 1998, fifty-two episodes of Skinnamarink were broadcast on television in Canada.  

Randi Hampson was thirteen years old when Sharon, Lois & Bram made their debut in 1978 and we wondered what she was thinking at the time.

“My dad was in a famous Canadian folk music group called The Travellers, so I was accustomed to that. When my mom (Sharon) started working I would help sell records and occasionally I was the elephant. I was immersed in songs, I got to sing on songs, and I got to participate in a fun and creative way. I watched this unfold. When you are in the middle of something you just accept it as it is happening, but every now and again something big or significant would happen. I would think this is really amazing and wonderful. I got a lot of pleasure and enjoyment out of watching their careers unfold. There were some fringe benefits with that like getting to be backstage at Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center (For the Performing Arts) and going to the United Nations General Assembly, when Sharon, Lois & Bram were singing for the fiftieth anniversary of UNICEF.

When I was in law school one of my very dear friends was the manager of a restaurant in Toronto called The Old Spaghetti Factory and she said the worst day of the year was the day that Lois, Sharon & Bram played at the O’Keefe Center (Now Meridian Hall), because all of the families would go to the Spaghetti Factory for lunch (at this point Sharon is laughing a lot) and it was total chaos,” says Randi.

What was once Sharon, Lois & Bram turned into Sharon, so why did she carry on?

“It was an opportunity to have a musical experience with my daughter (Randi) and I like performing,” says Sharon.

“My mom is in very good health, fit and energetic. I managed their final tour and I was exhausted. I don’t know how they did that for all those years, and I don’t know how they did that in their seventies. My mom still has a lot to say creatively and musically, so we started talking about singing together. We are really having a lot of fun doing it. Our keyboard player has been watching our Facebook concerts we have been doing and he says we are like a little comedy duo,” Randy says.

Like for most people in the performing arts, and people in general the year 2020 has come with its challenges, as Sharon explains, “It has unfolded differently than we expected, because we had some gigs lined up, so we could try it performing live, but of course that all went away with COVID. In March when that all ground to a halt Randy said let’s do some Facebook Live.”

You can watch and listen to the “Talk About Peace,” music video here. Please take time to check the credits below the YouTube video where the performers are noted.    You can follow the adventures of Sharon & Randi on the Sharon, Lois & Bram website.   Return to Our Front Page

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This interview by Joe Montague  published September 22nd, 2020 is protected by copyright © and is the property of Riveting Riffs Magazine All Rights Reserved.  All photos are the the property of  Sharon and Randi Hampson unless otherwise noted and all  are protected by copyright © All Rights Reserved. This interview may not be reproduced in print or on the internet or through any other means without the written permission of Riveting Riffs Magazine.