Magic Penny Award

2018: Kim and Reggie Harris

The Children's Music Network is pleased to announce Kim and Reggie Harris as the 2018 Magic Penny Award recipients. Kim and Reggie have enjoyed a long and honored career of helping students and their teachers absorb and express the power of music to build community, demonstrate strength, and lead all of us toward freedom.

Each year since 1999 the Magic Penny has been given to people who have demonstrated lifetime achievement in the field of children’s music. With creativity, deep knowledge, and beautiful voices Kim and Reggie have taught and inspired generations of kids and adults to understand our past and what it means for us today. For over 30 years, they have been performing, teaching, writing, researching, and recording. They have an incredible repertoire of African American music mixing both old and new freedom songs and spirituals to engage and educate audiences of all ages.

Kim and Reggie have been teaching artists for The John F. Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education Program for more than two decades. This affiliation has helped them spread their historical knowledge and joy of singing to thousands of students and teachers in schools and workshops throughout the country. In collaboration with the Kennedy Center, they developed multimedia performances for students and in-depth workshops for educators. Their programs highlight teaching about the Underground Railroad, the Civil Rights Movement and African Americans who’ve highly influenced history, along with themes of cooperation, diversity, friendship and environmental issues.

Kim and Reggie were born and raised in Philadelphia, PA absorbing the city’s diverse musical and cultural scene. Their music was nurtured in their churches and childhood schools. They have performed with, and collaborated with, many familiar musicians and social activists along the way. Pete Seeger, Ysaye Barnwell, Bernice Johnson Reagon, Tom Paxton, Harry Belafonte and many others have inspired Kim and Reggie.

They have 8 engaging recordings, and are included in a number of compilation CDs. Kim and Reggie's first CD, Steal Away: Songs of the Underground Railroad is widely used by educators and historians to introduce students to the “spirituals that inspired and informed escape from slavery”. Kim and Reggie’s knowledge of this hugely important chapter of American history is one of the cores of their work with students and teachers.

Along with their vast repertoire of songs from African American tradition, Kim and Reggie have written and learned many songs of social justice that celebrate life love and freedom. Reggie wrote many songs of “resurrection” after having a life saving liver transplant in 2008.

Kim earned a Ph.D from Union Theological Seminary in 2013 and is now a professor and consultant. Although, they are doing fewer programs together Reggie continues to tour as an educator, singer-songwriter, and storyteller on his own, and with friends along the way. Reggie is currently touring with Greg Greenway doing a show called “Deeper than our Skin” that explores their own history of the struggle with racism in our country.

We look forward to celebrating their collective body of work, which brings the hard story of the struggle for freedom to students and adults alike. Please join us October 12-14, 2018 at the Sawmill Creek Resort in Sandusky, Ohio as we honor and celebrate the life work of Kim and Reggie Harris with this year’s CMN Magic Penny Award.