When Lorraine Pond and Robyn Hardy became friends in the fall of 1992 they couldn’t have imagined where it would take them.
Two decades later, their friendship has led them to two Juno Award ceremonies as respected children’s entertainers, known as Bobs and Lolo.
“We actually never dreamed that we would be children’s performers,” Pond said.
Bobs (Hardy) and Lolo (Pond) will be returning home to Nanaimo on Saturday (Dec. 14), for two performances at Departure Bay Activity Centre.
Pond and Hardy had actually met years earlier when they were little girls attending a camp in Nanoose Bay, but it wasn’t until they reached high school that they became the best of friends.
“We both ended up going to Dover Bay the first year it opened,” Pond said. “We were inseparable after that.”
The duo frequently played sports together; they also sang in the school choir and had the same piano teacher.
“We got into all sorts of trouble,” Pond jokingly recalled.
The Nanaimo natives graduated from Dover Bay in 1996 and remained friends.
After university, they came up with the idea to blend their love for music, education, and children into a unique entertainment package.
“We thought if we could combine all three of those things then we would have some great entertainment value for kids,” Hardy said.
They decided to call themselves Bobs and Lolo, after nicknames they had in high school.
In 2003, Bobs and Lolo had their first show at B.C. Children’s Hospital. At the time the Nanaimoites hadn’t seriously considered the idea of becoming children’s performers.
“We were really learning as we went,” Pond said. “We were really hesitant to call ourselves entertainers. We always called ourselves educators first and it took a long time to feel comfortable in that entertainer role.”
One of their first paying gigs came one summer when they were hired by B.C. Ferries to perform in front of children in the kids play area.
“We would get on the ferry from Tsawwassen and we would stay on the boat for four sailings and we would just sing in the kids play area over and over again,” Pond said.
“There were points in the day where we didn’t even know which terminal we were at.”
It was during those ferry sailings that they began to understand the art of interacting with children.
“We learned about how to interact with the little guys,” Hardy said. “We got so much practice with the material. At that point we only had one album out, so it was just singing the same songs over and over again.”
Since their sailing days, the Dover Bay Secondary School graduates have gone on to release five albums, two of which were Juno nominated.
“We just built on that experience on B.C. Ferries,” Pond said. “Every year our shows got a little bigger. We got a little bit more profile and we started developing our brand. That eventually led into television opportunities.”
In 2009, the duo took home the Parents’ Choice Gold Award along with a Western Canadian Music Award. The following year they received their first Juno nomination for their album Action Packed.
“It started out grassroots and has really grown over the years but it still has that organic feel to it,” Pond said. “Even for the shows coming up in Nanaimo, our moms are coming out to sell CDs.”
When it comes to writing music for the youngest demographic, Pond and Hardy largely draw from their own experiences as children. They incorporated childhood memories such as bike riding, outdoors adventures and nature into their craft.
“We looked at ideas to connect kids to the natural world in general,” Pond said. “Our whole thing was let’s create content that is going to draw kids away from that and encourage them to get outside and play and be with their families.”
In 2012, the long-time friends received their second Juno nomination for their album Connecting the Dots. Pond and Hardy are currently in the early stages of creating a new album, which they plan to release sometime next year.
“It’s still very much in its conceptual stage,” Pond said.
According to Hardy, it can be challenging writing music for the youngest demographic.
“They (the kids) are very honest,” Hardy said. “If they don’t like it, they will tell you.”
This past April they launched their own television series titled, Sing Dance and Play with Bobs and Lolo, on Corus Entertainment’s Treehouse TV.
The Nanaimo natives grew up watching Canadian entertainers such as Raffi and wanted to bring back the human element in children’s entertainment.
“We grew up on Raffi, Fred Penner and Sharon, Lois and Bram and all these real people and the Canadian kids music industry and that’s really missing now,” Pond said.
A decade into their career and they haven’t wavered from their original message to the kids. “It’s really just about inspiring them to care about the world around them and care about each other,” Pond said. “Our goal is to have them grow up to be caring individuals and make a difference around them.”
Concerts start at 10:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Tickets $10 at Kool and Child or online at www.bobsandlolo.com.