Magic Penny Award

2019: 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 that she has written for children over the years, many focused on how children and their adults can be proactive in working for the betterment of the environment. Nancy also has 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 also 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. This was when she also started writing songs for children and adults. One of the first songs she wrote 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 PMN 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, except for 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. Nancy and Judy will be putting a collection of children's songs online soon!

We will be honoring Nancy Schimmel and presenting the Magic Penny award to her on Sunday, September 22, 2019 at our International Conference being held this year in Scottsdale, AZ.

Registration will open April 1—keep an eye open and come celebrate Nancy Schimmel with us!