Magic Penny Award

2003: Suni Paz

The Children's Music Network bestows the Magic Penny Award on someone who has made an outstanding lifetime contribution to children's music. The 2003 Magic Penny award was given to Suni Paz, a pioneering writer and singer of songs in Spanish for children. Previous Magic Penny honorees include Malvina Reynolds, Ella Jenkins, Marcia Berman, and Woody Guthrie.

Suni Paz has recorded and has been published extensively. Singing in English and Spanish, she has performed her children's music and folk music for years, thrilling audiences of all ages on stage, radio, and television all over the world. Among the myriad of concert halls she has graced are the famed Bottom Line in New York (alongside performers such as Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, Don Maclean, Richie Havens, and the late folk icon Phil Ochs) and Madison Square Garden. She has been part of some of the most important folk music festivals of our time. Her unique songs inspire positive ideas, the strength of the human spirit, and a caring worldview.

Suni Paz is an upbeat, energetic performer, full of love and life. Her songs have something to say to anyone looking for content, culture, or just pure joy. She uses folk music, children's music and popular rhythms from all of Latin America, as well as other parts of the globe, bringing a natural earth-bound warmth to any event.

With six children's music and folk music albums for Smithsonian Folkways, four children's music collections for Santillana, more than 200 songs for Del Sol, 36 songs for Harcourt-Brace, 36 songs for Mimosa, 18 songs for Scholastic, and more, Suni is well established as a prolific writer of inventive, catchy folk music melodies and thoughtful lyrics that people love to sing, learn, and dance to.

Suni Paz was born into an extraordinarily talented Argentine Creole-Italian-Catalonian family of writers, musicians, linguists and poets. In 1967, she moved from Chile to California with her two children. There, she designed curriculum for elementary schools presenting Latin American culture through songs, stories and dances and thus began her teaching and singing career in the United States, which has flourished. She is involved in an ongoing collaboration with award-winning writer and poet Alma Flor Ada, setting her lyrics to music. She also collaborates with Spanish illustrator Vivi Escrivá, and poet Isabel Francisca Campoy. Her expertise encompasses voice-overs for radio and television, transcription of songs from English and French into Spanish, and advertising. Suni also performs concerts at community centers, public libraries, homes for the elderly, conferences for new teachers and/or experienced educators, and conferences on children's values.

She chose her performing name Suni, which means lasting, from the Quechua language, so as to be able to disseminate the rich indigenous cultures of the Americas in lyrics, rhythms, and instruments such as the charango, caja, and bombo. Paz is a last name that is found in every Latin American country. Its meaning is peace. To find inner peace and share it with others is Suni's quest in life. To sing and play rhythms from all of the Americas has been her trademark.

For more information about Suni Paz, visit her website at

Award: Suni Paz recieves awardmp-photo by Jenny Heitler-KlevansPhoto: 2003 Magic Penny mp-photosPhoto: 2003 Magic Penny mp-photosmp-photos by Sally Rogers

Suni Paz with some of the friends who joined in the 2003 tribute honoring her.

Award Designers: Leslie Sweetnam – Woodstock, Connecticut and Tom Menard – Putnam, Connecticut