Raffi, Canada's most popular children's singer, will be making his Washington debut Saturday at the Green Acres School auditorium in Rockville. In Canada, his six albums have gone gold or platinum but have been available here only as imports. That changed recently when Raffi became the first children's artist signed to a major American label, A&M.

"Our records are different than what were previously thought of as children's records," Raffi says. "They're records that both parents and children can enjoy . . . The music is presented with respect for children as whole people."

Raffi's albums and concerts are geared primarily to children aged 2 to 8. "My very first album was 'Singable Songs for the Very Young,' and the words 'very young' were chosen because my mother-in-law, a nursery school teacher who was the inspiration for my recording it in the first place, felt it was the very young children who were often left out when it came to making good music."

In his concerts, Raffi (he seldom uses his last name Cavoukian) provokes a lot of participation, particularly of the sing-along variety. And, he says, kids often get a bad rap on their singing abilities. "Actually, they're not a whole lot different from adults in terms of pitch. Singing is just a matter of confidence, of feeling good about the act of singing. If you feel joy in singing, it takes care of whatever pitch problems you may have. If anything, children are underrated as to what they can do."

Raffi's Saturday concerts at Green Acres will take place at 1 and 3:30 p.m.