December 3, 2020 —Chicago shined a spotlight on beloved children’s music performer and educator Ella Jenkins Wednesday evening, Sept. 16, at its annual Fifth Star Awards Ceremony in the Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. Jenkins is a resident of The Admiral at the Lake continuing care retirement community on the lakefront on the city’s North Side.
As an artist and an educator, Jenkins has been singing with children for more than 50 years, and generations all over the world have grown up listening to her nearly 40 albums, including Multicultural Children’s Songs — still the bestselling release on the historic Smithsonian Folkways label. She has performed everywhere from Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 2004, Jenkins was honored with the Grammy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award.
Throughout her career, Jenkins has charmed and educated children with interactive songs. Inspired by the call-and-response music of Cab Calloway, Jenkins released her first album in 1957, six years after receiving her sociology degree.
Inaugurated in 2014, the City of Chicago’s Fifth Star Awards honor artists and cultural organizations for significant contributions to the city’s cultural life. Besides Jenkins, this year’s honorees were author Sandra Cisneros, architect Stanley Tigerman, the Joffrey Ballet and Norm Winer, program director of legendary rock radio station WXRT. Performers at the awards ceremony included Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company and the Joffrey Ballet.
The 31-story Admiral at the Lake, a Kendal affiliate, includes 200 residential living apartments in a life care community that also provides a full continuum of on-site, long-term health care. Located at Marine Drive and Foster Avenue, just steps from Foster Avenue Beach, The Admiral at the Lake offers a resident-driven lifestyle that is pure Chicago.