Ellis, Neenah

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Ellis, Neenah

PERSONAL:

Married Noah Adams (a senior correspondent for NPR). Education: Earned degree from Drake University, 1977.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Takoma Park, MD. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Journalist, author, and documentary producer. National Public Radio (NPR), writer for series Making the Music, 1995, producer for programs Anthem, 1998-99, and All Things Considered, and staff member for Weekend Edition Sunday. Freelance reporter and producer for Discovery Channel, National Park Service, and United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Producer of "North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty" for North Carolina Public Radio (WUNC).

MEMBER:

Association of Independents in Radio.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Corporation for Public Broadcasting grant, 1997; three George Foster Peabody Awards; Radio-Television News Director's Edward R. Murrow Award; Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University Award and Casey Medal, both 2006, both for "North Carolina Voices: Understanding Poverty."

WRITINGS:

The Summer of Love (sound recording), National Public Radio (Washington, DC), 1982.

If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians, Crown Publishers (New York, NY), 2002.

ADAPTATIONS:

If I Live to Be 100 has been adapted as a sound recording, HighBridge Audio, 2002.

SIDELIGHTS:

Neenah Ellis, an award-winning documentary writer, producer, and editor, is the author of If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians. In 1999, Ellis, who spent a number of years working as a staff producer for All Things Considered on National Public Radio (NPR), began recording interviews with centenarians across the United States. The result, One Hundred Years of Stories, was broadcast on NPR's Morning Edition in 2000. "During the course of these interviews, certain themes recur, impelling the listener to wonder about cause and effect," noted Rose Speranza in the Oral History Review. "Nearly all the people are active physically and seem to be in amazingly good shape. They maintain a wide range of relationships—family, friends, and spouses. Most have interests—painting, gardening, political activities, intellectual pursuits—which keep them mentally engaged."

Two years later, Ellis presented the interviews in If I Live to Be 100. "Describing those voices for the printed page caused me no end of frustration," Ellis stated on the NPR Web site. "It took me paragraphs to achieve the same complexity of information that the sound of a voice can convey in a few seconds." In the work, wrote Natural Health reviewer Francesca Forrest, "Ellis explains how hearing these stories changed her view of growing old—and to some degree silenced her own fear of aging." A critic in Kirkus Reviews similarly noted that the author "finds herself being drawn farther and farther into each of these twilight worlds, sensing rather than extracting into words the feelings of her subjects." According to New York Times contributor John Langone, If I Live to Be 100 "is a testimonial to resilience and the perseverance of individuals whose life expectancies are just a few additional years."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, August, 2002, Carol Haggas, review of If I Live to Be 100: Lessons from the Centenarians, p. 1896.

Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 2002, review of If I Live to Be 100, p. 1005.

Natural Health, December, 2002, Francesca Forrest, "The Secret of Living to 100: This New Book Reveals What It Takes to Reach a Ripe Old Age," p. 88.

New York Times, June 22, 2004, John Langone, "Secrets of the Happy Life," review of If I Live to Be 100, p. F7.

Oral History Review, summer-fall, 2002, Rose Speranza, review of One Hundred Years of Stories (sound recording review), p. 159.

Publishers Weekly, June 17, 2002, review of If I Live to Be 100, p. 50.

ONLINE

NPR Web site,http://www.npr.org/ (October 2, 2002), Neenah Ellis, "If I Live to Be 100."

Third Coast International Audio Festival,http://www.thirdcoastfestival.org/ (March 20, 2007), Johanna Zorn, "Behind the Scenes with Neenah Ellis, producer of One Hundred Years of Stories."