(CBS) — For more than six decades she’s been singing folk songs with a special love for children.
Ella Jenkins turned 90 years old this week, and CBS 2’s Harry Porterfield says she is someone you should know.
“You Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song” could easily be one of the world’s most popular tunes. Lifelong Chicagoan Ella Jenkins composed it more than 50 years ago for children, and it has never lost the quality that has endeared it to audiences everywhere.
Although she earned a college degree in sociology, it was the communication with children through her songs that caused her to devote her life to singing and playing her music. As a kid, she taught herself the ukulele and the harmonica.
“I’d imitate sounds and pretty soon I’d figure out I could play a tune,” she says.
In 1957, she appeared on the Channel 11 show “Totem Club,” which she hosted on Thursdays. Later, she became a regular on “Mr. Rodgers’ Neighborhood.” In 2004, she was honored with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
Her 40th album is a collection of multicultural songs for kids. Known as the first lady of children’s folk music, she is celebrating her 90th birthday.
“I don’t think so much of the number of years as what I do with the years,” she says.