Archives for July 7, 2017

NEA Honors First Lady of Children’s Music Ella Jenkins with National Heritage Fellowship

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National Endowment for Arts (NEA) has presented National Heritage Fellowships to celebrate and honor master artists working in the folk and traditional arts.Today, the NEA announced this year’s recipients, including Ella Jenkins.
In other news, Folkways released Camp Songs with Ella Jenkins & Friends on Friday, June 23.

 

Jenkins,The First Lady of Children’s Music, celebrates 60 years as a Smithsonian Folkways artist. She has wanted to record camp songs for more than 15 years and assembled a group of children, parents, and teachers from the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago, along with Tony and Kate Seeger from Camp Killooleet, to sing these rounds, nonsense songs and campfire sing-alongs. The 25-track collection includes familiar camp songs “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” “Kumbaya” and “This Land Is Your Land.”

Many of the tunes on Camp Songs with Ella Jenkins and Friends have been sung by generations of campers, including many of the 14 million children and adults who attend camp every year in the United States. The album has its roots in the songs Jenkins’ brother brought home with him from Boy Scout camp when she was a child, and begins with a chorus of children singing the familiar round “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.” But these selections come from a variety of traditions, among them African-American spirituals, European folk songs, and Jewish summer camps where Jenkins has performed. “Everybody Loves Saturday Night” has lines in a dozen languages, including Mandarin, Hindi, Serbian and Nigerian. The album’s final five numbers, which include “Sloop John B.” and “Goodnight Irene,” are sequenced to resemble a campfire sing-along.

Camp Songs with Ella Jenkins and Friends was produced by Tony Seeger, nephew of folk-music icon Pete Seeger. Tony Seeger also wrote the included liner notes and lyric annotations for all the songs in the 36-page booklet that accompanies the album.Throughout the album, Jenkins sings and plays harmonica, often offering reminiscences and spoken-word introductions to the songs.

Though Jenkins takes the lead on “Sipping Cider Through a Straw,” she is almost everywhere on this recording — singing, harmonica playing, teaching, reflecting about camp, engaging with children and their parents, and of course in the selection of the songs. Jenkins is joined in her performances by 13 children and a group of adults that includes Erin Flynn; Bucky Halker; Judy, Kate, and Tony Seeger; Barbara Silverman; and Chris Walz. At its core, this is a collection of music by and with children.

I really enjoyed listening to the songs on this CD. They are fun and I recommend for children of all ages!~SoCal City Kids. 

More about Ella Jenkins

 

Jenkins, who turns 93 in August, has devoted her life to instilling a love of music in children. She released her first album for Folkways in 1957, and her 1966 album You’ll Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song remains one of the best-selling titles in the history of Smithsonian Folkways. She received a Lifetime Achievement GRAMMY Award from The Recording Academy in 2004. The Old Town School of Folk Music is organizing a tribute concert at the Square Roots Festival in Chicago on July 8.

Self Disclosure: I received a free CD to facilitate this post. Photos and Information were also provided.