Faculty Spotlight: Daniela Tosic and her new collaborative single Wake Up, Little Sparrow

VPA Voice Instructor, Daniela Tosic, releases single as a collaborative song
Merrimack News

Current VPA Voice Instructor, Daniela Tosic, has recently collaborated with former Merrimack vocal instructor and current associate professor at Berklee College of Music, Cristi Catt, and orchestra director at Lexington High School, Rachel Jayson, to produce their collaborative single Wake Up, Little Sparrow

This single is an arrangement of Ella Jenkins’ composition of the same title, which can be heard here. Jenkins, often referred to as ‘The First Lady of the Children’s Folk Song,’ first started writing and recording songs in the 1950s. Over the course of her 50+ years in music, Jenkins’ albums have included tracks such as nursery rhymes and rhythmic chants, as well as international, African-American, and bilingual songs to introduce  an awareness of various cultures to her audiences. In 2004, she received the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Inspired by Leyla McCalla’s arrangement of Wake Up, Little Sparrow, Tosic and Catt decided to include Jenkins’ song in their current  Tapestry project ( a cont

Cover for Wake Up Little Sparrow
Cover for Wake Up Little Sparrow

emporary vocal ensemble). Currently, Tapestry is working on a program which features female composers expanding from Impressionism (1860s) to modern-day.

We had the good fortune to record the song, Wake Up, Little Sparrow, at the Berklee College of Music where Cristi teaches, and released it as a single last October.” Tosic told us, continuing with: “Working on the song inspired us to learn more about Ella Jenkins, and it led to a podcast episode celebrating her life and legacy.”

This podcast, which is a collaboration between Tosic and Catt, is called Faces of a Woman, and discusses women composers within music history. Their podcast about Ella Jenkins can be found here.

Catt commented: “It has been very inspiring to learn more about Ella as we worked on this podcast. I knew about her songs as a kid, especially Miss Mary Mack, which I later sang with my daughter. What I didn’t realize is that she is such an under the radar cultural icon, interacting with the major artists of her time, playing an important role in the civil rights movement and early childhood development. She met children where they were and impacted generations, as well as creating a body of beautiful music that she gathered and passed on and/or composed over her long life. It was a thrill that she listened to our cover of her song and enjoyed it!”

Enjoy listening to their single on YouTube here.

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