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  • New Release: More Multicultural Children’s Songs by Ella Jenkins

    No Smithsonian Folkways release has been more popular than Ella Jenkins’ 1995 album Multicultural Children’s Songs, a selection of her favorite melodies learned from cultures around the world. In celebration of Ella’s 90th birthday on August 6, Smithsonian Folkways presents More Multicultural Children’s Songs. The album is her 40th title spanning an amazing 57 years and features 20 classics from her prolific catalogue.

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    More Multicultural Children’s Songs inspires respect and rejoicing in the traditions of others among children of all ages. “Hukilau” takes the listener to a Hawaiian fish-eating ceremony, “Rushing Around in Russia” teaches greetings, and “Qué Bonita Bandera” is a beautiful ode to the Puerto Rican flag. Ella also makes pit stops in China, Germany, Greece and beyond throughout this 20-track journey. More Multicultural Children’s Songs includes a beautiful essay from Ella herself, in which she says: “The songs and stories were inspired by the wonderful people I’ve met all over the world, and in the spirit of how they shared their customs and songs with me, I pass them on to you.”

    Chicago-based Ella Jenkins, known as “The First Lady of Children’s Music,” has received many awards over her long career, including a 2004 GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award (the only such award given to a children’s musician), and an Honorary Doctorate from the Erikson Institute the same year. 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.

    Ella was the first woman and first children’s musician to receive the ASCAP Foundation’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999, and in 2009 she earned a United States Artists award. She is one of the first African American women to have a TV show, when in the 1950s she hosted a weekly segment on “The Totem Club,” a 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 part of the Library of Congress National Recording Registry. In 2013, Ella kicked off the Lollapalooza festival kid’s stage. Currently, her recordings of “Wade in the Water” and “A Man Went Down to the River” are featured in Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s internationally acclaimed ballet Revelations.

    “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


    1. Where Is Mary? 3:27
    2. Shabbat Shalom 0:47
    3. Hukilau 2:54
    4. Rushing Around in Russia 0:41
    5. In the People’s Republic of China 2:04
    6. A Train Ride to the Great Wall 2:37
    7. Count from One to Ten 8:40
    8. I’m Going to Cairo 1:59
    9. Qué Bonita Bandera 0:41
    10. Canadian Friendship 1:42
    11. A German Counting Rhyme 0:23
    12. Tee-Kan-Yas 2:03
    13. Yemayah 1:38
    14. A Taxi Ride 1:08
    15. Differences (spoken word) 0:54
    16. In Australia 2:19
    17. Australian Zoo 4:50
    18. Bim Bom, Bim Bom 1:27
    19. My Little Blue Dreidel 1:17
    20. Chotto Matte Kudasai 2:20
    New Release: More Multicultural Children’s Songs by Ella Jenkins | Smithsonian Folkways Recordings