Ella Jenkins
Folk Singer and Actress
Chicago, IL
2009 USA Fellow

This award was generously supported by the Collins Family Foundation.

Ella Jenkins has been called “The First Lady of Children’s Music.” She first began creating songs for children as a volunteer at a recreation center and in subsequent education jobs. For over 50 years Jenkins has been performing international folk songs and original compositions in schools and in television appearances on Mister Roger’s Neighborhood, Sesame Street, and Barney. She was one of the first to record on Moe Asch’s Folkway’s Records, which later became Smithsonian Folkways, and for which she has recorded 29 albums since 1959. She has received numerous awards, including a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2004 Grammy Awards.

Portrait photo courtesy the artist.
  • Artwork by Ella Jenkins
    You'll Sing a Song and I'll Sing a Song, Ella Jenkins with Members of the Urban Gateways Children's Chorus, 1989; photo courtesy the artist and Smithsonian/Folkways Records
Artwork by Ella Jenkins