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  • Watch Ella Jenkins and Friends perform “Michael Row the Boat Ashore”

    For 60 years with Folkways, Ella Jenkins has been making and performing the kind of music that brings people of all ages together. “Michael Row the Boat Ashore” is exactly that kind of song. The song has been sung for likely over than 100 years prior to its first recording. Since its origins as a spiritual, the tune and ever-changing lyrics have given children and adults alike a simple tune to sing together.

    On her new album Camp Songs with Ella Jenkins and Friends, Jenkins considered the role that music plays in the type of carefree togetherness that people experience at camp. The kind of music that brings this togetherness contains simplicity—enough for everyone to follow along and sing together. In addition, camp songs should be easy to add lyrics to, so that the singers can make it their own. Many of the songs she chose, like “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” have been following those guidelines for over a century.

    In this video of “Michael Row the Boat Ashore,” there is palpable joy and satisfaction from all of the performers, from child to adult, over what they created together. The video demonstrates that Ella Jenkins’s talent lies not only in the music she makes, but also in the joy she spreads by sharing it.

    Click here to learn more and purchase Camp Songs with Ella Jenkins and Friends.