Itty-Bitty Review: 123s and ABCs - Ella Jenkins


Let's begin as we must always begin when talking about Ella Jenkins -- she is a legend.  The Chicago-based musician released her first album for Folkways Records (later Smithsonian Folkways) in 1957, and she's recorded for Folkways ever since.  Jenkins turns 90 years old later this year, but she's still playing live around the country.

This latest album follows up on 2013's Get Moving with Ella Jenkins with another collection of previously-released material.  As you might guess from the album title, this album features songs about counting and the alphabet, presented with empathy and without a trace of irony and hipness.  That's not a putdown -- one of the great joys of listening to and watching Jenkins perform live and on record is hearing and seeing how in sync she is with her audience.  She's not playing to the adults in the back of the room -- she's playing to the kids in the front.  (She wants to get the adults involved, too, but that's usually not at issue on recordings.)  She's leading and teaching them, and the kids adore her for it.  Once your kids have already mastered their letters and numbers, they probably won't want to listen, and you might not want to listen to the album on repeat regardless, but again, it's not for you.

You can listen 3 tracks from the 31-minute album here.  Recommended if you've got preschoolers, and as always, if you yourself sing to preschoolers on a regular basis, regardless of whether you're in a classroom setting or not.