Ella Jenkins


Ella Jenkins

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Ella Jenkins is a pioneering music educator and children’s entertainer who wears the title given her by many of her fans, “The First Lady of Children’s Music,” with tremendous energy. Now in her 9th decade, she is still going strong with her 33rd title on Smithsonian Folkways, ‘Get Moving with Ella Jenkins,’ available January 29, 2013.

‘Get Moving with Ella Jenkins’ is a collection of 15 recordings, including three previously unreleased on CD, featuring Ella’s core principles: rhythmic movement, careful listening, singing, and improvisation. She has been instrumental in integrating these developmentally important skills into early childhood music education. For example, the activities featured in ‘Get Moving with Ella Jenkins’ help children reach the 60 minutes of play recommended by First Lady Michelle Obama as part of the “Let’s Move!” program to prevent childhood obesity.

‘Get Moving’ features classics such as “London Bridge Is Falling Down” and “Who Fed the Chickens?” and counting games like “And One and Two” and “One Potato, Two Potato.”

Chicago-based Ella Jenkins has received many awards over her long career, including a 2004 GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2005, ‘cELLAbration,’ an album of Ella’s songs performed by Sweet Honey In The Rock, Riders in the Sky, Tom Paxton, Cathy & Marcy, Pete Seeger, Tom Chapin and others, won the 2005 GRAMMY for best children’s album. She was the first woman and first children’s musician to receive the ASCAP Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999 and in 2009 earned a United States Artists award. She is believed to be one of the first African American women to have a TV show, when in the 1950s she hosted “The Totem Club,” a weekly children’s program broadcast in Chicago. Her “Me Too Series” films were featured numerous times on “Sesame Street,” and she has also appeared on “Barney and Friends” and “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Her 1966 album ‘You'll Sing a Song and I'll Sing a Song’ is the best-selling title in the history of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings and is part of the Library of Congress National Recording Registry.

Parenting magazine has said that Jenkins’ “simple but irresistible songs, poems, and mini-language lessons... reflect the beauty of diverse cultures.” “Ella Jenkins is a constant source of inspiration and a bottomless well of songs, ideas, and spirit. She is by far the most worldly performer that children’s music has ever known.” -- Dan Zanes

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