Former U.S. Poet Laureate, actress and raconteur Maya Angelou (b. 1928) narrated and appeared in the Sesame Street special Elmo Saves Christmas in 1996. She also appeared in a few Sesame Street insert segments in the 1990s and beyond, including celebrity versions of "A New Way to Walk" and "Sing." In other inserts she talks about 'N' words to Natasha (EKA: Episode 3822), plays patty-cake with Elmo while she raps about 'M' words (EKA: Episode 3924) and E words, claps hands with Herry Monster while he says 'H' words, and sings "My Name" with Elmo and the kids.
Her nickname "Maya" came from her older brother, Bailey, who called her "My" and "Mine." She was nominated for Broadway's Tony Award in 1973 as Best Supporting or Featured Actress (Dramatic) for Look Away. For years as a child, she was also mute; a woman named Bertha Flowers helped her talk again and inspired her to become the poet she would become. Her 1969 autobiography is called I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings.