The 2014 OKC Storytelling Festival Featured Storytellers:
"I discovered that in a story I could safely dream any dream, hope any hope, go anywhere I pleased, fight any foe, win or lose, live or die. My stories created a safe experimental learning place,” Donald Davis remembers of when he started his storytelling journey. Davis was born in a Southern Appalachian mountain and grew up hearing gentle fairy tales, simple and silly Jack tales, scary mountain lore, ancient Welsh and Scottish folktales, and-most importantly-nourishing true-to-life stories of his own neighbors and kin. "I didn't learn stories, I just absorbed them," he says as he recounts tales and more tales learned from a family of traditional storytellers who have lived on the same Western North Carolina land since 1781.
For Donald Davis, storytelling is a way of giving and living life. He invites each listener to come along, to pull deep inside for one's own stories, to personally share and co-create the common experiences that celebrate the creative spirit. For Davis storytelling ",...is not what I do for a living...it is how I do all that I do while I am living." This is the way he has approached all aspects of his life...as a student at Davidson College; as a graduate of Duke University Divinity School; as a retired Methodist minister; as former Chairperson of the Board of Directors for the National Storytelling Association; as featured teller at the Smithsonian Institution, the World's Fair, festivals and concerts throughout the United States and the world; as prolific author and producer of books and tapes of his works; as master teacher of workshops and storytelling courses; as a guest host for the National Public Radio Program "Good Evening"; and as father of four sons.
Designated an American Masterpiece Touring Artist by the NEA, Elizabeth Ellis grew up in the Appalachian Mountains. A children’s librarian at Dallas Public Library before becoming a professional storyteller, the “Divine Miss E,” is a versatile, riveting teller of Appalachian and Texas tales and stories of heroic American women, though her personal stories are arguably her best. Invariably hilarious and poignant, she is a repeated favorite at the National Storytelling Festival. She is a recipient of the John Henry Faulk Award from Tejas Storytelling Association and the Circle of Excellence Award from National Storytelling Network. In 2013 the National Storytelling Network honored her with a Life Time Achievement Award. She has mesmerized nearly a million children in her thirty-five year career as a professional storyteller.
Lynette Ford is a fourth generation nationally recognized Affrilachian, African American heritage and history from Appalachia, storyteller famous for telling her “Home-Fried” tales. She categorizes “Home-Fried” tales as folktale adaptations, spooky tales and original stories rooted in her family’s multicultural Affrilation storytelling traditions. They are often enriched with call and response, choral response, rhythm and rhyme, humor and heart.
Ford is also a teaching artist; workshop facilitator; a Thurber House mentor; a writer, published in storytelling magazines and newsletters, as well as teachers’ enrichment books and story anthologies; a recording artist with award-winning CDs; a Laughter Yoga leader and breath mechanic; and last but certainly not least, a mama, grandmama, and good cook!
Growing up in a family where it was always the responsibility of the listener to decide whether or not a story was true, Bil Lepp became adept at spinning tales and exaggerating circumstances at an early age. Lepp is an award-winning author, recording artist, internationally-known storyteller, and humorist whose style has been described as a satisfying blend of Bill Cosby and Jeff Foxworthy. A five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, his outrageous tall-tales and witty stories have earned the appreciation of listeners of all ages. He has been featured at venues across the nation, including a recent appearance for Comedy Central. Lepp is also the recipient of the Storytelling Circle of Excellence Award. Festivals small and large across the county have brought Bil in to share his family friendly, unique, award winning tall-tales covering subjects that touch on most aspects of everyday life.