Ellen Stekert

Biography by

Ellen Stekert is something more than a folksinger, or even a folk song collector -- though she has done both of those things across a 50-plus-year career that has carried her from academia to music and…
Read Full Biography

Artist Biography by

Ellen Stekert is something more than a folksinger, or even a folk song collector -- though she has done both of those things across a 50-plus-year career that has carried her from academia to music and back again, more than once. Born in New York City in 1935, she was raised in Great Neck on Long Island, where she developed an interest in folk music (and other hand-me-down traditions involving stories and perceptions) as a teenager. While a philosophy major at Cornell University, she also became a singer, exploring the practical side of the music traditions that she was researching, and recorded an album of folk songs with Milt Okun for the Riverside label in 1956, entitled Traditional American Love Songs. Stekert subsequently became a serious folk song collector and annotator, and has written extensively on folk music and various academic subjects. Stekert was also responsible for collecting traditional songs, and the recording of several albums built around them, including Songs of a New York Lumberjack (1958) on Folkways Records. She served on the faculty of the University of Minnesota, and holds the rank of professor emerita.