Joya Sherrill, one of the first black performers to host a kids show on TV, died June 28 in Great Neck, N.Y., of leukemia. She was 85.
Sherrill hosted WPIX New York’s “Time for Joya,” which later became “Joya’s Fun School.” Among the guests on her daytime show was Duke Ellington, who in one of his last TV appearances in 1970, famously performed and told jokes and stories to the young aud.
Although the original show ran only for a few years, the reruns lasted into 1982.
Sherrill started out as a performer in Ellington’s band in 1942. Even after leaving his band she occasionally performed with him, including on his 1957 TV spec “The Drum Is a Woman.”
In 1962 she joined Benny Goodman on a State Dept. tour to the Soviet Union. According to the New York Times, her rendition of folk song “Katyusha” set off a controversy in Georgia because the locals didn’t like her singing in Russian.
Sherrill continued to perform and record other albums.
Survivors include a son, a daughter, two grandchildren and a sister.