Featured Story Tellers
Check out performer’s bios below:
Daily Line Up
* ASL for all daily line up activities will be provided by Sister Jamillah Hollman and Sister Rosalinda Estrada-Alvarez
Friday, September 24, 2021 – 6:00PM – 7:30PM (CDT):
Saturday, September 25, 2021 – 6:00PM – 7:30PM (CDT):
Band Performances By:
Gwen Matthews & Robert “Eddie” Robinson Band
Sister Linda Goss
Born in Alcoa, Tennessee, currently, Mama Linda Goss is the storyteller ambassador for the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in Baltimore, Maryland and the storyteller-in-residence at the Peale Center. Named the 2019 National Heritage Fellow, Goss is known nationally. In 2019, Goss was honored by the American Folklore Society which hosted a forum entitled, “Black Storytelling and Cultural Preservation: The Legacy of Mama Linda Goss.” “Well, Oh Well, Oh Well. It’s Storytelling Time!” is her recognized legendary call. As a forerunner of the Black Storytelling Movement in America during the 1970s, she rang her bells and told her stories on the streets of Washington, D.C. and Philadelphia. As a community folklorist and activist, she believes “Black Storytelling is a combination of the oral, the written, and the rhythms of our people. It bends, it curves, not separating spirit from the art.”
In 1982, Mother Mary Carter Smith (1919-2007) and Goss founded the “In the Tradition…” Annual National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference in Baltimore. The co-founders understood the need to institute an organizational structure to perpetuate African diasporic storytelling and began the Association for Black Storytellers in 1984 in Philadelphia, which developed into the National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS). The annual festival continues today and has taken place in communities across the United States.
Goss is the author of seven books, including co-editing Talk That Talk: An Anthology of African-American Storytelling with Marian E. Barnes and with an introduction by Henry Louis Gates, Jr. Significant works appear in other anthologies, and she has two albums of storytelling with Smithsonian Folkways.
Next generation storytellers across the country continue to benefit from Goss’s mentorship and oral history projects. She has been awarded master/apprenticeship fellowships with the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts and twice received the Maryland Traditions Apprenticeship Award. She also developed How We Got Over, a project of the Peale Center for Baltimore History and Architecture funded by Maryland Traditions to conduct interviews with Baltimore storytellers about their school experiences.
Sister Gwen Matthews
International recording artist/producer/vocal arranger/vocal technician from Stevie wonder, Kenny Rogers, members of Earth wind and fire and numerous others Gwen has recorded with the best. She has performed at the famed “Montréal Jazz Festival” in Canada and the “Fleur de France Festival” in Paris and was featured in festivals and concerts throughout Europe the Denis Colin trio. She also to Russia with “Women Who Cook” and travels internationally the Rupert’s Orchestra. When his received numerous awards and recognition she was nominated numerous times for the Minnesota music awards as “Best Female R & B, Gospel and Jazz Vocalist”. She also shared the coveted award as “Best Cover Band” with the Rupert’s orchestra for several years. Gwen also won the Minnesota Black Music Awards twice; she was inducted into the Minnesota Rock and Country Hall of Fame in 2007 with “Passage”. in 2009 she was inducted into the Iowa Rock & Roll Hall of Fame with “Crow”.
Brother Robert Eddie Robinson
Robert Robinson is a reason to believe that the greatest music reaches every name and crosses every boundary, from audiences in the Pontiac Silverdome to troops in South Korea. Standing five foot five and sipping Diet Coke, Robert is “God’s canary.” He possesses the ability to sing any song and yet remain true to his vision.
There exists a deep sense of goodness about Robert. His father was a pastor and his mother, a church soloist, led the musical ministry on the North side of Minneapolis. At the tender age of 6, Robert (known as Eddie so as not to confuse the young vocalist with his father of the same name) began singing with his family as part of the Robinson Children, and by 15, Robert was directing the church choir. But it was not until around the age of 24 that Robert began to experiment with his prodigious musical gifts outside of the cocoon of church community. At the prodding of friends, family and outsiders, Robert took the modest steps of singing at weddings and small corporate functions, eventually starting a gospel choir at Minneapolis Community College in 1990. Soon, he quit his job as a data processing expert to lead the 100 strong Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir, today heralded by Minnesota Monthly Magazine as “the state’s most decorated group.” 1991 brought Robert a featured role in “Nightingale” at the world-renowned Theatre de la Jeune Lune. In 1992, Robert took part for the first time in Lorie Line’s Christmas tour and remained for 15 years with subsequent appearances on PBS and in Target stores nationwide.
He became producer, creative director and promoter of his own touring schedule and was named one of the “Ten Best Holiday Shows” by Metro Magazine in 2007. At the same time, Robert became a noted clinician giving master classes across the United States and even finding time to become a two-time national karaoke champion!
Reviews continued to pour in. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel described Robert as “a volcanic talent.” His performance was depicted as “glorious” by the Salt Lake City Deseret News, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune proclaimed Robert to be “a soaring presence.” Perhaps more importantly, Minnesota’s Insight News distinguished Robert as “a beloved institution,” a nod to both his service to the community and his sterling life’s work. People love Robert. Artists look to him for affirmation. Fans adore his inclusive personality. They don’t necessarily have to embrace gospel to embrace Robert and that is alright with him. It’s all about his soul.
Sister Jan Blake
Jan Blake is one of the leading storytellers, and has been performing worldwide for over thirty years. Specialising in stories from Africa and the Caribbean she has a well- earned reputation for dynamic and generous storytelling. Highlights include being resident storyteller at Hay Festival, curating Shakespeare’s Stories, in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, and touring the award-winning The Old Woman, the Buffalo, and the Lion of Manding about the Malian hero king Sundiata Keita. As well as regularly storytelling to children in school settings, she works with teachers to help them become better storytellers in the classroom. In the Winter Wood, inspired by winter stories from around the world was commissioned by Polka Theatre and Apples and Snakes, and premiered in 2018.
Sister Lyn Ford
Lyn Ford is a fourth-generation storyteller who shares the gifts and heritage of orature from her Affrilachian family. Lyn is also a workshop presenter who has encouraged folks from Maine to Hawaii and in Australia and Ireland to speak personal truths, hopeful possibilities, original stories and folktales. Her work has been included in the “Ain’t I a Woman” workshops for Hopeworks in Howard County, Maryland, and “Stories from the Future” for Achud Macht Neu in Berlin, Germany.
Lyn is a member of the National Association of Black Storytellers’ Circle of Elders, and the National Writing Project’s Writers Council. An award-winning writer, a Thurber House mentor to young authors, an Ohio teaching artist, a Certified Laughter Yoga Teacher, a great-grandmother–Lyn is still creating her story.
Brother Dylan Pritchett
Dylan Pritchett (pronounced DIE-lan) is a native of Williamsburg, Virginia. Since 1990, Mr. Pritchett has been a full-time storyteller, taking his African and African American folk tales throughout the country. Dylan is honored to have served as President of the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc., served ten years on its Board of Directors and served as their Festival Director for many years. He is equally proud of authoring his children’s picture books, The First
Sister Elisha Minter
Elisha T. “Mother” Minter is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte holding a BA in African American and African Studies. She has an extensive background in Music and Theater and currently works at the Beatties Ford Road Library in Charlotte as a Sr. Library Specialist for the Branch. Elisha also served as Minister of Music for the New St. John Baptist Church for 30 years where she planned for the music department and schedules rehearsals, programs and special engagements for the church and for visits. The Music Department had 7 choirs, ranging from tots to seniors and more.
Mother Minter’s storytelling and theatrical career spans a 22 year period in which time she has performed on stage professionally and in community theater as well as appeared in films and stock photos. Such wonderful stage productions as The Wiz, South Pacific, and Proposals for which she won actress of the Year from Creative Loafing in Charlotte, NC in 2002. She was recently featured in the March 2007 release of the film The Ultimate Gift. As a writer, Mother Minter has been featured in Charlotte Pride, Charlotte Magazines and Black Child USA, where she writes a bimonthly column call “Parenting Points”. She also serves as a North Carolina Humanities Council Road Scholar (2009-Present). She is presently self-publishing a book entitled Children’s Play Songs from the African American Experience.: In the Tradition.
Brother Gran Daddy JuneBug
Mitchell Capel’s journey as a historian, professional storyteller, comedian and emcee since 1985 has simply been phenomenal. Under the name of “Gran’daddy Junebug”, Mitchell has memorized over 70% of the poet laureate Paul Laurence Dunbar’s work and calls his style of storytelling “sto’etry” because the majority of his stories are in rhyme. This award winning artist has been featured at The Smithsonian’s Folklife Festival, The Kennedy Center, The National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN, The National Association of Black Storytellers Festival and the first Inauguration of President Barack Obama. He consistently receives rave reviews and has been described by major publications as a “national treasure”, “unexpectedly powerful” and “simply the best”! He attended A&T State and Howard Universities studying speech and theater, but, more importantly he calls himself “a full time honor student at The University of Life”.
Sister Danielle Daniel
Info coming soon.
Brother Chetter Galloway
Chetter Galloway Virginia native Chetter Galloway is the youngest of ten children who grew up hearing his father tell stories on Sunday road trips. His background is rooted in the African oral tradition and living history presentations. Chetter is a graduate of East Tennessee State University with a Master of Arts degree in Storytelling.
He has worked as an artist with Young Audiences, the South Carolina Arts Commission and Better Basics Enrichment Program of Birmingham, AL. Chetter has performed at venues such as the National Black Arts Festival, the NABS Festival and Conference, CNN – Inside Africa, Martin Luther King Jr. NHS, and the Smithsonian.
Currently he serves on the Board of Directors for Kuumba Storytellers of Georgia and is a member of Toastmasters International. Chetter is also an avid runner who loves creating stories while he is running! Engaging and entertaining, he often includes the Djembe drum in his performances and invites you to Feel the Rhythm and Live the Story!
Sister Kristie Lazenberry
Kristie Lazenberry grew up in the Frogtown area of St. Paul, Minnesota. After graduating from the U of M, she went on to act for a number of years at the Hallie Q Brown theatre (now called Penumbra) under the tutelage of Lou Bellamy. Kristie has been a member of the group, 94 East, as a writer and vocalist for many years and has been an integral part of Pepe’ Music Inc. Kristie has always loved reading stories to children and only recently began to explore the art of oral storytelling. Her passion around the importance of telling stories really began with her longstanding involvement in racial justice work. Currently, she works with the Itasca Project where she supports community improvement initiatives. She loves to hike, bike, cook and read.
Brother Joshua Cheo Gillespie
Joshua Cheo Gillespie Joshua Gillespie has been brought up within the storytelling culture. Witnessing his grandparents the master Storytellers Vusumuzi and Nothando Zulu on and off the stage has sparked a flame in him to carry on the torch. He uses his artistic abilities – Digital Art, Music, Dance, & Oral expertise – to captivate audiences. The goal of Joshua’s storytelling is to highlight “Current History” (history currently in the making) , Life Lessons , and to inspire his people and all people to aspire to be who they truly are in spite of the trials and tribulations that life throws at us. While his journey as a storyteller has only just begun he has written two stories: Kilima Kizuri and Fly Like an Eagle – Memphis Jookin Story. His artwork is created to depict “The Spirit in its Glory” each illustration is a story in itself with beautiful blends from all the colors the eye can see. His artwork has reached from the East Coast to the West Coast but holds strongest in the land of Memphis, Tennessee. His music is geared toward empowerment, wisdom, strength, and dancing (or what he likes to call “Labbin”). He graduated with a B.S Degree in Finance and hopes to use his creative ability to help the generations coming after him to use their gifts to bring them freedom. He believes our stories are like seeds from the divine tree of life, helping to guide us and grow us into divine trees of our own.
Sister Toni Simmons
Toni Simmons is an award-winning, dynamic storyteller and author who brings new life to her stories with songs, rhythms, chants and audience participation. Toni is a former librarian and drama teacher who has presented her multicultural tales throughout the US. She has captivated audiences at many festivals including the National Storytelling Festival Exchange Place, the National Black Storytelling Festival, and the Texas Storytelling Festival. Internationally, she has performed in schools in South Africa, in Germany, and in Mexico. Toni is listed on the Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Artist roster and was designated as an American Masterpiece by the National Endowment for the Arts. Her interactive sessions also use creative drama with a variety of age-appropriate folklore. The audience is taken on an imaginary story trip to different continents all the while helping to tell the stories. Her programs are designed to motivate, inspire, and educate while being entertaining. She performs at schools, libraries, churches, and festivals.
NunnAbove – They’ve been called, “the next generation of Minneapolis sound”
The band’s music could be described as positive alternative pop. They have the skill to weave in and out of many different styles, and the musicianship to know what works and what doesn’t. Since being discovered by producer Karl Demer in 2016, NUNNABOVE has been busy performing in and around the Twin Cities. From local festivals, community fundraisers and events both private and public, whether alone or on stage with Gary Hines and The Sounds Of Blackness, Jearlyn Steele and her amazing family members, or many of Minneapolis’ finest singers and musicians, the group delivers on a distinctive sound that leaves the listener wanting to hear more.
The Black Storytellers Alliance would like to thank the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council for sponsoring the 31st Black Master Annual Festival, themed “Black Joy: Stories Celebrating Hope, Resilience & Love.”
Special Thanks to Our Sponsors!