Holiday Spirit

Ella Jenkins
"First lady of the children's folk song," Ella Jenkins. Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

For 50 years, Ella Jenkins—once dubbed the "first lady of the children's folk song" by an admiring critic—has brought a unique touch to music, composing bedtime ballads inspired by spoken-word poetry and African folk tunes. In 2004, the Grammys paid tribute to Jenkins' genre-bending compositions with a Lifetime Achievement Award. Her Holiday Times album, recorded in 1996, features music for festivals including Kwanzaa and Hanukkah, as well as variations on traditional Christmas favorites such as "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer."

Click here to hear Holiday Times, Harmonica for Hanukkah, Kwanza Time and Winters I Used to Know.

Music courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways, the non-profit record label of the Smithsonian Institution. Please click here to purchase or for more information