recess radio program

01/07/05
An Ellabration
    by John Cech

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That’s Sweet Honey in the Rock with part of an a capella tribute to Ella Jenkins, who’s been called “The First Lady of Children’s Music.” Ms. Jenkins has performed in America and around the world to crowds of young children and their parents for over fifty years. She’s just turned 80, but shows no signs of slowing down her busy schedule of concerts, spreading the word that music is as natural as, well, clapping your hands and improvising, like Tom Paxton is doing here with some young friends:

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A group of the many songs that she has written and adapted from a wide variety of folk traditions and cultures over the years has been collected in this new CD, called cEllebration, from Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. The cd features some of the best-known singers making music for youngsters today – like Sweet Honey in the Rock, Tom Paxton, Pete Seeger, Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer, and a folk festival full of others.

Their covers for Ms. Jenkins’ songs are joyful and (dare I say it?) -- informative. You’ll learn a little Sahili from Red Grammer, how to yodel from the Riders in the Sky, and the words for that great grandmother of all hand-clapping games, “Miss Mary Mack.” But mostly, you’ll be swept up in the good spirits that flow between Ms. Jenkins, her music, and her audiences, and you’ll be left wanting encore after encore, like the kids in the University Park Children’s Ensemble:

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Copyright 2005© John Cech

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."