Share this on:
24 / 25
Departments | Spring 2019
Photo: Nancy Schimmel

2019 Magic Penny Awarded to Nancy Schimmel

The Children’s Music Network is pleased to announce Nancy Schimmel as the 2019 Magic Penny recipient. Every year since 1999, the Magic Penny award has been given to people who have demonstrated lifetime achievement in the field of children’s music. The first Magic Penny recipient was Malvina Reynolds, and the name of the award comes from one of her best-known songs. Malvina’s daughter, Nancy Schimmel, accepted this posthumous award on her mother’s behalf, and now we come full-circle in honoring Nancy for her own work as a songwriter, storyteller, and activist.

Nancy Schimmel has a large repertoire of songs she has written for children over the years. Many focus on how children and their adults can be proactive in working for the betterment of the environment. Nancy has also written a number of songs related to racial issues—“1492” being perhaps the best-known of these—and songs relating to children’s self-esteem and empowerment.

Nancy has been instrumental in keeping the song library of her mother, Malvina Reynolds, alive and regularly finds ways to share the children’s music that Malvina wrote with the CMN community.

Nancy sang with children as a summer camp counselor in the fifties. The first story she performed was Pete and Charles Seeger’s song-story “The Foolish Frog.” In 1965, she took a storytelling class in library school and became a children’s librarian and teacher of storytelling. In 1976, she quit her job, cut loose, and toured the country with her partner, Carole Leita, telling stories, teaching storytelling workshops, and singing children’s songs. She also started writing songs for children and adults. One of her first was about naps, of which she is still a strong advocate.

In the eighties, she teamed up with Candy Forest, writing and recording children’s songs including a CD, Sun, Sun Shine: Songs for Curious Children. She also joined People’s Music Network and CMN. Later, she worked with Judy Fjell, touring their MalvinaSpirit show and writing songs for kids and adults. Now, she mostly writes both songs and prose. She also does political singing with the song-leading group, Occupella, which started as song circles at East Bay Occupy encampments. She has written a book about their first year, called Occupella: Singing in the Lifeboats, and a book about storytelling, Just Enough to Make a Story. She and Judy will put a collection of children’s songs online soon.

We look forward to celebrating Nancy’s body of work. Please join us September 20–22, 2019 in Scottsboro, Arizona, as we honor and celebrate the life work of Nancy Schimmel with this year’s CMN Magic Penny award.