Still Singing & Strumming After All These Years
This week calls for birthday shout outs to two music legends in their 90-something prime still singing and strumming for us. Legendary crooner Tony Bennett turns 94, and the first lady of children’s music Ella Jenkins wil be 96. Both artists still share their beautiful music, and both, still deserve our accolades.
Ninety-six-year-old Ella Jenkins is the ultimate Trailblazer. This children’s music legend is dubbed internationally as the First Lady of Children’s Music for a multi-colored rainbow of fabulous reasons. Performing and working with children on seven continents for over four decades, Ella’s songs transcend cultural barriers. It’s quite well known that she loves sharing what she’s learned from children of one culture with children of another culture. Using music from these diverse cultures — whether it’s a ukulele, a harmonica, guitar, kaluba drum or maracas (the list is endless) — Ella Jenkins always encourages active participation from her young fans.
Ella has released 40 albums and two videos on Smithsonian Folkways record label since her first recoring in 1957. Her classic You’ll Sing a Song and I’ll Sing a Song is the best-selling record in the history of Folkways Records. Her many guest TV and film appearances include NBC’s “Today Show,” CNN’s “Showbiz Today,” “Barney and Friends,” “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and films as “Sesame Street.”
The Ultimate Pioneer. The first artist to ever trailblaze a career in the field of children’s music, Ella has been recognized by ASCAP, the Library of Congress and by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences with a GRAMMY Lifetime Achievement Award. A documentary about Ella Jenkins life and work is in the works “Ella Jenkins: We’ll Sing A Song Together.” Happy Birthday Ella!
Legendary Crooner Tony Bennett continues to leave fans hearts in countries all over the world. The 19-time Grammy-award winner’s career spans six decades with no end in sight. A personality that exhumes love, gentleness, intelligence and dignity at every turn, and a singing style totally his own — Tony Bennett is an American icon adored the world-over who has Socially Sparked® our lives.
I left my heart with Tony Bennett a few years backt at New World Stages Theatre in New York City. Candid and charming as ever, Tony shared with the packed house his thoughts on those who have inspired him over the years. The names ran the gamut from his wife Susan Benedetto, to Amy Winehouse, Cary Grant, Sammy Davis, Jr., Charlie Chaplin, Frank Sinatra, Lady Gaga and Dr. Martin Luther King. He also had extremely inspiring comments about racism back in the day and living in the Unites States.
Tony Bennett, The Author. His book, “Just Getting Started” with Scott Simon came out in 2016. Tony reflects on the remarkable people who inspired the lessons he has learned over his 90 years. Just Getting Started, is available in stores and online.
Sound Bytes (Excerpts)
Here are excerpts from our November 2016 feature on music legend and American icon, Mr. Tony Bennett!. A few second-person sound-bytes from the one-on-one interview on the New World Stages (excerpted as I remember them):
On Amy Winehouse – probably the greatest jazz singer in the world, next to Billy Holliday.
On Carey Grant – Carey Grant told me not to go into the film business…so, I didnt.
On Lady Gaga – She is very talented. Constantly learning. We think alike when it comes to jazz. That’s why it worked so well. She’s doing film now, and will surprise everybody. She will be around for a very long time.
On himself – I only do great songs. That’s what I do.
On Dr. Martin Luther King – I owe alot to Dr. Martin Luther King. …he showed us how to return hatred with love. Those of us in the music business owe our careers to Dr. King and the civil rights revolution.
On Racism in America – I remember going to visit a friend, a great pianist at a club and wanting to see him backstage after the show. They told me that I was not allowed in his dressing room (segregation), we would have to wait for him to come out.
“If this country isn’t going to work, then the world isn’t going to work.” — Tony Bennett
On America – We live in the greatest country. I perform all over the world and America is the greatest country. In Italy, it’s all about Italy, in Greece, it’s all about Greece. Nowhere else can you live in a country with every race, every religion and every orientation.
“We knew the genius of so many African Americans firsthand: it was in the music we performed every day. We would not have our careers – or lives– without the gifts of the African American artists who created jazz and the blues, our great American musical art forms.” — Tony Bennett from the book Just Getting Started
Two music legends who Socially Sparked our lives and continue to do so well into their 90s. How lucky can one world get? Ella Jenkins’ and Tony Bennett’s contributions to the world are a plentiful – from music, to diversity and racism, to inclusiveness and lunconditional love — and they are still singing and strumming for us all!l The world needs to clone these two music giants. Happy Birthday shout out Ella and Tony! — Forever #SociallySparked Tweet us @sosparkednews & @asparks01