Remember The Storm – Mother Mary Carter Smith

 

As if speaking to us from beyond the grave, the late Mother Mary Carter Smith (1919 – 2007), Co-founder of the National Association of Black Storytellers, advises her community in the aftermath of apparently devastating election results. Although she is discussing a local election in 1993, she very well could have been talking about the 2016 presidential election. The point is, we have been through the storm before; we CAN withstand this storm. This isn’t the worst, and it won’t be the last.

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A likeness of Mother Mary Carter Smith was installed in the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum in Baltimore in 1989. Mother Mary Carter Smith was proclaimed Baltimore’s Official Griot in 1983 and Maryland’s Official Griot in 1991.

Many years ago, I attended a tribute to Mother Mary at the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum in her adopted hometown of Baltimore Maryland. There, she talked to us–a group of storytellers–about the importance of leaving a legacy. She said she wanted each one of us to receive a copy of a radio broadcast she’d hosted on Morgan University Radio.

Mother Mary Carter Smith hosted “Black Is” on Maryland Public Radio, “The Children’s Hour” in Washington, D.C. and “Griot for the Young and Young at Heart” for over 20 years on Morgan University Radio, WEAA-FM.

As promised, a digital copy of the broadcast was delivered to me.

As I listened, Mother Mary recalled the long, hard struggle by African-Americans to win the right to vote. She recalled that Black people stood in line for hours to participate in the first democratic elections in South Africa in 1994.

She reckoned that the local election results “brought home in great force that we, African Americans, are a despised people, looked down upon by many of those in power.”

Then, she recounts a speech which she wrote for the October 29th, 1993 dedication of a slave ship installation at the National Great Blacks In Wax Museum, “Remember the Storm”. An old spiritual runs throughout.

Hard times, she said, we’ve had hard times before. The dreadful march to sea, the Middle Passage….

We’ll stand the storm and it won’t be long. We’ll anchor by-and-by.
We’ll stand the storm and it won’t be long. We’ll anchor by-and-by…

Some jumped overboard. Some chose to survive. To Resist. Always to resist.

We’ve had hard times before. The New World plantations.

Mother Mary goes on to tell the heart-wrenching story of Kizzy, from Alex Haley’s Roots. And sings another round of the hymn.

We’ll stand the storm and it won’t be long. We’ll anchor by-and-by.
We’ll stand the storm and it won’t be long. We’ll anchor by-and-by…

When I see the despair and read the fatalistic lamentations of people around the United States over the baffling results of the 2016 election, I couldn’t help but think of this recording. And, I knew I had to share it with you.

I’m realizing now, again, how much influence Mother Mary has had on me as a storyteller; in the kinds of stories I tell. I am a part of her legacy. And, I am not afraid to stand in the Storm.

In 2015, the Board of Directors of the National Association of Black Storytellers,  Inc., proclaimed (her Birthday)
FEBRUARY 10th as MOTHER MARY CARTER SMITH DAY!

Read the Proclamation

We have come through storms to face new storms. The old chains were of iron.

The new chains have new names. We are in the midst of a storm.

How about the future?

Yet, she said, there is a way out of this storm.

  1. Put down roots in your faith–the Bible, the Koran, the Torah, The African religions–to be lived and not merely recited.
  2. Give an honest day’s work, whatever our work may be.
  3. Reach out and help one another, regardless of our zip codes.

We have come through great storms. We can come thru this one.

We’ll stand the storm and it won’t be long. We’ll anchor by-and-by.
We’ll stand the storm and it won’t be long. We’ll anchor by-and-by…

Take a Listen.

(Audio Clips: “Griot for the Young and Young at Heart” Morgan University Radio, WEAA-FM, 1994.)

 


Posted by:

Denise Valentine 14963380_10210690475757709_5632598297831898399_na.k.a Storymama, of Philadelphia, PA, is a Professional Storyteller, Historical Performer and Consultant. Denise also serves as the Social Media Coordinator for the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. @NABStalking and an affiliate member of Keepers of the Culture, Inc.

Find Denise on the web: Storymama’s Blog,  Twitter,  Facebook,  and Instagram.

 

National Association of Black Storytellers Celebrates its 34th Annual “In the Tradition…” Festival & Conference

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National Association of Black Storytellers Celebrates 34 years of the “In the Tradition…”  Festival & Conference

 

The National Association of Black Storytellers Inc. (NABS) is proud to announce its 34th  “In The Tradition…” Annual National Black Storytelling Festival & Conference, The Way We Tell It is The Way It Is, to be held November 2-6, 2016, at the Wyndham Historic District Hotel in Philadelphia, PA. This year’s event, like all others before, is the preeminent place to experience masterful storytellers sharing stories, culture and history from the African diaspora. The annual event is by far the Nation’s finest and features the best of storytelling from the African cultural traditions!

 

“This annual Festival showcases NABS’ vision and creative approach to strengthen our communities through the art of storytelling and collecting, owning and institutionalizing our narratives,” reports Dr. Caroliese Frink Reed, this year’s Festival Director. “NABS’ storytellers will educate and entertain by celebrating the oral tradition that depicts and documents the African-American experience,” stated Karen “ Queen Nur “Abdul-Malik, President of NABS.

Festival Highlights!

The pre-festival event, A Cultural Extravaganza: Philly Style is hosted by Keepers of the Culture: Philadelphia’s Afro-centric storytelling group at the AFRICAN AMERICAN MUSEUM in Philadelphia. The Festival offers a jubilant and culturally rich environment for the entire family, including an Opening Love Circle and two-hour concert. There are few other annual events whereby audiences can hear, feel and see the authentic voice of African American storytellers LIVE-on Stage. On Thursday evening, November 3, 2016, a conversation with the matriarch of the Black Arts Movement. Sonia Sanchez will be a highlight of the week. Co-founder Linda Goss and Dr. Linda Humes will interview the Poet Laureate of Philadelphia, Sister Sonia Sanchez.

 

Other performers include:

  • Award winning, international storyteller, Diane Ferlatte is a traditional preserver of folk history, culture and value whose powerful dynamic characterizations, interactions and animated expressions. Diane tells folktales, fables, and legends that are historical, contemporary, and personal narratives with African, African American and Southern roots.
  • Andrea Fain uses her storytelling voice as a unique ministry to create an ambience that audiences welcome.  Her Afrocentric repertoire brings an awareness of the Black experience and history.
  • Emily Lansana and vocalist, Glenda Zahra Baker came together In Chicago, over twenty years ago to form Performance Duo: In the Spirit. Each performance since then to celebrate the power of the word to connect, uplift and transform.
  • Sonny Kelly, a writer, director and radio host is also a world-class performer, storyteller, motivational, speaker and comedian, who has acted professionally on stage and television for over 20 years. This California man gone Southern gentleman will have the audience rolling in the aisles!
  • Mitchell Capel partners with Sonny Kelly to create “a force to be reckoned with.” As a duo they bring to life untold stories of the hundreds of thousands of unsung heroes whose glory and honor have remained silent for entirely too long. Featuring the original work of Paul Laurence Dunbar, William Cullen Bryant, Raymond Garfield Dandridge, Dr. Rex Ellis and others, this work brings to life an array of African American soldiers, their stories and their struggles.
  • Denise Valentine is a professional storyteller, teaching artist and historical performer who has performed for international audiences of all ages at hundreds of schools, libraries, museums and community events illustrating the power of story to transcend differences between people, transform negativity and inspire hope.
  • Relive the experiences of the ancestors and learn from Atiba Kwabena, who has studied the folklore of Afrika and its western-hemispheric diaspora and currently lectures at Hunter College on the subjects of the “African Origins of Hip-Hop” and the “African Origins of the Blues.”

 

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NABS 2016 Featured Tellers

 

All activities at will take place in the midst of an AFRICAN AMERICAN MARKETPLACE with NABS RESOURCE CENTER where African imports, Afro-centric wearable art, African American literature, Black art, Karamu Corner and intriguing wares will be available for purchase. First-Time attendees, New Members and Old-Timers will also have an occasion to come together during the Akwabaa Gathering to get tips on how to maximize the Festival & Conference experience and get the most out of their NABS membership! A dynamic beginner and advance storytelling workshop will include tips and techniques for performance, teaching & drumming.

 

In addition, NABS Storytellers will come together from across the country to provide over 50 dynamic educational and cultural experiences in Philadelphia’s schools, libraries, museums, correctional facilities, recreation and senior centers, through its National Adopt-a-Teller program. The AFRICAN-AMERICAN HERITAGE TOUR, another special offering, will allow visitors to experience the hallowed grounds of the historic Mother Bethel AME church. Founded in 1787 by Richard Allen and Absalom Jones, the church rests upon the oldest parcel of land continuously owned by African Americans. Participants will also visit the Lest We Forget Black Holocaust Museum of Slavery, to see artifacts and hardware used during the periods of enslavement and the Jim Crow era.

In honor of Jackie Torrence, the Liar’s Contest has been renamed! Yes, this is the one place where Big Mama won’t mind the children tellin’ a little tall tale! The adults also get a chance to test their lifetime practice of the art!

 

NABS is a nationally organized body with individual, affiliate and organizational memberships throughout the United States.

 

For Registrations

Registration is on-site only!

Download the Festival Flier!

 

For Hotel Reservations:

Please access via www.nabsinc.org using the 2016 Hotel link on home page, or call 215.923.8660, and ask for National Association of Black Storytellers room block. Reservations will be confirmed upon receipt of a valid credit card number or prepayment of one (1) night deposit.

 

For more information contact:

Dr. Caroliese Frink Reed, National Festival Director

afamstorytellers@gmail.com

215.796.2785

TAHIRA, Local Festival Director

TAHIRAprod@gmail.com

302.494.0546

NABS, INC:               Karen Abdul-Malik             609.680.4831   queennur@NABSinc.org

NABS BOOKING:    Vanora Franklin Legaux     410-947-1117  vflegaux@hotmail.com

NABS PR:                  C. Sade Turnipseed              662.347.8198   sade@khafreinc.org

www.NABSinc.org

questions@nabsinc.org

410.947.1117

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RAMONA’S TIPS FOR ENTERING STORYTELLING CONTESTS

aesopremixThe National Association of Black Storytellers’ online Storytelling Contest is starting March 27th. This year’s theme “Aesop Remix: Old School for a New Day” opens the door to creative, soul-stirring, heartwarming, social commentary-like, wisdom endowed storytelling!

INFORMATION ON AESOP, QUINTESSENTIAL TALE SPINNER

Aesop is believed to have lived from about 620 to 560 B.C. He was an enslaved Grecian of African (Ethiopian) descent and world renowned master storyteller.  Aesop was known for the wisdom tales told to indirectly persuade human behavior, thought, and decisions.  While his stories were adapted for children, these wisdom tales were often meant to influence adults to behave morally and responsibly.

SUPPORTING RESOURCES

Aesop Facts and Information

Aethiop/Aesop by Seba Damani (Donald Saunderson)

Variations on Aesop’s Fables-The New York Times

AESOP ONLINE COLLECTIONS

A printable collection of Aesop Fables

Library of Congress Aesop

BOOKS

Aesop’s Fables by Aesop and V.S. Vernon Jones

Aesop: Tales of Aethiop the African by Jamal Koram

Life can get crazy busy, especially when you decide you want to take on a project like…a contest.  I understand interruptions and procrastination all too well. It took me forever just to write this blog.  To give your most compelling delivery it’s going to take some planning.

RAMONA’S TIPS FOR A CONTEST ENTRY

  1. Mark the deadline, and your chosen start date on a calendar or enter into your phone now.
  2. Mark your personal early deadline for entry on your calendar and phone. Let’s face it, judges will be as fair as possible. But wouldn’t you want to be fresh in their heads with the first set of entries?  Entries at the end will be in view of some pretty tired judges.
  3. Read as many stories as you can, until you find that one that speaks to you, your storytelling style, and inspires a new creation.
  4. Decide if the characters and setting will remain the same or will you change them.
  5. Decide if you will use the same language.  If you place your characters in another setting or time, you may want to use appropriate language.
  6. Rehearse your story and rehearse your story again.
  7. Submit on your chosen deadline date. Celebrate Completion.

INSPIRATION FOR YOUR PERFORMANCE

Jabu and the Lion
Arit’s Fables (Arit Essien)

Black Storytelling Festival in Hampton
NABS in Hampton, VA

Be sure to visit NABS’ Website on or after March 15, 2016 for information and criteria on our upcoming 3rd National Online Storytelling Contest. Cash Prizes Awarded.

Happy Storytelling!

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Ramona King is a member of the NABS Education Committee.  She is the mother of 3 young adults.  For more than 25 years she’s performed at schools, museums, conferences, and Universities with stories for Building Families and the Esteem of Children and Youth.  She is the founder and owner of Catch a Story Productions—providing solo performances, workshops and historical portrayals 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Did you Say, Middle School?”

Few things can send fear through the hearts of some storytellers than the thought of standing in front of middle school students for storytelling.

Elementary school students are game. They still like tales, and they want to hear them.

There are a myriad of topics for High School Students, and you can actually have conversations about things.

Middle School isn’t like either of those.

The Middle School audience wants to be entertained, is really freaked out about what everyone else is doing, wants to be treated like they are grown, but are actually still children, think that they know more than the adults around them, and are swinging through the first and most pernicious part of puberty. They are, in other words, challenging.

There are tellers who come to mind who we are pretty sure have no problems with middle school.

No doubt Kala Jojo could keep an auditorium of middle school kids enrapt.

What about Madafo Lloyd Wilson, Charlotte Blake Alston?

 

Well, “sure”, you might say, “Of course they could hold middle schoolers, but what about me?”

I can’t play the Bow Harp!

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I don’t even know what this is!

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I have an mbira…somewhere.

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And, before you ask, no, I most certainly do not have a djembe!

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Yes, middle school audiences love music, but they also love language, and you can hook them if you try a few simple steps.

  1. Create Common Ground.  This is a skill we all employ. Though it might seem that this crowd wants nothing to do with anyone, not even themselves half the time, they are as susceptible to hearing things about themselves as the next person. You could begin by asking questions such as, “What were you most worried about when starting school this year?” you could seed the discussion by saying, “When I was in sixth grade, my biggest fear was being laughed at by other people. Does anyone else have this fear?” Questions are a great way to begin.
  2. Shape your stories to deal with the sorts of things that plague or interest this group. This age range deals with a complete renegotiating of who they are and how they live with peers. It is the age where they start giving each other grief about their hair, shoes, clothes, skin tones and all sorts of other things. Belonging is more important than expressing individuality. This is really hard for some kids. Talk about the identity issues, and tell stories that address the feelings of isolation, fear and shame that lots of this age group grapples with on a regular basis.
  3. This is a group of people who do not have their emotions under control, and they are likely to do spontaneous, destructive, charitable, lovely, unpredictable, crazy, out of the blue things. Address this as well, and tell stories about your own foibles, the foibles of other adults through history, or folklore that deals with the perils of acting before you’ve thought about it.
  4. You could also talk about surviving middle school. Focus on the kids who are marginalized, and tell stories that help the kids in the middle realize that someday all of them will be leaving school, and you never know who someone is going to turn out to be in the next ten years.

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Don’t write people off just because you don’t see where they might be going!

When you figure out where your audience lives, you can meet them there and take them anywhere!

Happy Telling!

Donna Washington, Storyteller.

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Donna is a national storyteller, author, workshop presenter and award winning recording artist.  She has been featured at thousands of schools, festivals and conferences across the country.

http//www.Donnawashington.com

 

You Never Know Who Is Listening

 

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Some years ago I was presenting at the Kentucky Book Fair. It was a miserable, cold, rainy day, and there were over one hundred authors present.

I was due to give a presentation in a tent off the beaten path. When I got there, nobody was there. Over the next ten minutes three people arrived.

  1. The tent monitor
  2. A librarian who had my book
  3. My friend, Louise Hawes, who didn’t want the tent to be empty

Everyone was apologetic that almost nobody came to hear my presentation. The tent monitor suggested I get off of the stage, and just sit quietly with the three of them in the font row. I just shrugged, got  up on the platform and started performing as if the tent were packed.

It sort of shocked the three people in the front row. About ten minutes into my presentation, the tent was packed. People were drawn to the tent, found seats and settled in for the rest of the presentation.

Louise told me she learned something that day. She had cancelled appearances before because the gathering was paltry. I told her that years of doing summer reading in libraries taught me one thing…if the audience outnumbers me, its a show!

Over the years, I have had lots of odd experiences as a teller. The one thing that has been true of all of them is that you just keep telling.

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Once, when I was at the Brookfield Zoo during the opening of their Africa exhibit, I was telling “Why Mosquitos Buzz In People’s Ears”, when the audience started snapping photos top speed. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a figure, and when I turned, the baby giraffe had come over and was watching me. It stood there about five feet from me blinking and staring. It remained there for the rest of the story. When I was done, it shook itself like it had come out of a trance, and wandered back towards its mother.

Recently I was telling at a high school where the students began cutting class to come back and listen to later shows. They were unapologetic about their antics, and their teachers were so pleased they were determined to watch more stories, they let them.

The first time I was ever in a situation where I ended up with an audience member who floored me was shortly after I graduated from Northwestern. After my presentation, a woman stopped me and asked if I’d ever written a book. I said, ‘No’, and she gave me her card. That woman turned out to be Katherine Tegen, an editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books.

You never know who is in your audience. You never know what they need, or what they want.

Whether there are two or two hundred, they always deserve everything you’ve got.

Happy Telling!

Donna Washington, Storyteller

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Donna is a national storyteller, author, workshop presenter and award winning recording artist.  She has been featured at thousands of schools, festivals and conferences across the country.

http//www.Donnawashington.com

 

 

ETHICS: YOU CAN’T “BORROW” A STORYTELLER’S SOUL

Adinkra symbol from Lyn Ford  “He who does not know can know from learning”

The subject line for an email sent to Storytell listserve read, “Borrowing or stealing?”

Storyteller Meg Gilman wrote that her workshop had been “borrowed” by someone else without her knowledge or permission:

“It’s nice that folks recognize a good thing when they experience it and I appreciate that, but it’s crappy for me when I see my workshop being presented at a conference by someone else…  It breaks my heart, frankly… My workshops offer information for people to ‘use in their work’, [not to be] recycled with someone else’s name on them… One reaction I had to this last situation is whether I will be able to present my original workshop again, without appearing to have copied the ‘copier’.”

Such “borrowing” has happened to other hard-working tellers, including me.  Most story-sharers ask for my permissions (and receive them, with info on how to credit, or suggestions for researching/creating variations, and my blessing either way).  But I’ve heard a few of my versions of stories, (and my family’s), memorized by someone else and told onstage without acknowledgement, as well as included without permission in some workshop material. Without a lot of noise or animosity, I let others know whose hard work was really being shared.

A teller who aspires to be professional should honor the familial story experience or creative property, research, preparation, recording and/or writing and submission for publication of the source. Otherwise, that teller doesn’t deserve the honor of the story, for that teller has no claim to the process.

For works of orature, the concern is a moral issue more than a copyright infringement.  In every storyteller’s work–spoken or printed or otherwise recorded, danced, drummed, or preserved in any way–is a part of that artist’s soul.  You can’t “borrow” a storyteller’s soul.

Storyteller and humanitarian Laura Simms responded on Storytell, “For those of us who have devoted our lives to this work with original thinking, regard for cultures, and very dedicated work on stories and workshops, it is disheartening to have work outrightly stolen, and misused, etc. in the name of storytelling.  There is no other art form that is as relational and profoundly effective because of the presence of a living artist.”

Before you tell anyone else’s story, consider:  Is it yours to tell, or have you simply and strongly connected with it?  Is it from your personal, cultural knowledge base, or would your telling be considered secondhand hearsay—someone else’s story?  If you “must” tell it, will you speak with its source, and ask where it originated (it might be an original piece that sounds like a folktale; it might be from a literary source, which means telling it might be a copyright infringement)?  Then ask your source, “If I credit your work, may I tell your story”?  If the answer is no, accept that and do your own work.

Before you use anyone else’s workshop materials, there is only one question to ask the author of the work:  Do I have your permission to quote from your work?  There is no other question; the use of anyone’s recorded material (CD, DVD, printed, even when it has no copyright symbol) is illegal.  Period.  No, exclamation point!

If you’re aware of someone stealing your intellectual work, tell them and others. Claiming and reclaiming your work (and protecting what you must from your created orature and original, researched literature through copyright) is what should be done.

  • Lyn Ford

Lyn Ford--May 2015Lynette (Lyn) Ford is a fourth-generation Affrilachian storyteller and teaching artist for the Ohio Alliance for Arts Education and the Ohio State-Based Collaborative Initiative of the Kennedy Center, and a member of NABS’ Circle of Elders.  Lyn is also an author, mentor for young writers for the Thurber House, great-grandmother, and proud member of the Cleveland Association of Black Storytellers (CABS). (Lyn’s highly-acclaimed work, Affrilachian Tales:  Folktales from the African-American Appalachian Tradition, was reviewed in the Fall 2014 issue of Spread The Word, the NABS print newsletter.)

To join Storytell, “a worldwide online community” listserve supported by the National Storytelling Network, go to http://www.storynet.org/storytell.html

Adinkra symbol (depicted with beginning quote):  NEA ONNIM NO SUA A, OHU whose source is   Cloth As Metaphor by G.F. Kojo Arthur

A glimpse of the dilemma for spoken word artists and creative copyrights—Chapter 8, “Categories of Copyright Work” can be read, in Intellectual Property Law by Helen Norman.  Oxford University Press, 2nd Edition, 2014.

Celebrating NABS Folk Art Creator – Carolyn “Kooki” Davis

With the curtains closing on Women’s HerStory Month 2015, as with Black History Month, one contemplates that one short month is far from sufficient to recognize and celebrate the accomplishments of either women or contributors to the African diaspora
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Upon further thought, one also becomes aware that the great ones who have traversed our lifepaths extend far beyond the courageous global sisters depicted on a couple of my favorite t-shirts depicted here, but also to those who have crossed and blessed our contemporary everyday existence.  Whether it be the grandmother who taught us the art of storytelling, the teacher who guided us to see and explore our deepest potential, or the sister friend whose awe-inspiring personal art or literature enhances our lives, we learn that history is not always remote or of bygone eras but is also an ongoing sometimes very personal unfoldment of life-lifting events and people.
My friend, Rev. Hasifa Rahman, frequently honored me by labeling me a “living ancestor”; however, there are innumerable living ancestors throughout our world, if we only have the vision to behold.  NABS is replete with such diversely talented ancestral contributors, beginning with our co-founder, Mama Linda Goss.
 On the occasions when I have been blessed to chat with this walking storehouse of history and folklore, the conversation has soared far beyond an ordinary chat to one of rich sharings of literary, art, and folklore resources, as well as a plethora of information on outstanding contemporary contributors right in our midst.
Now for a bit of griot “indirection”, my grandson has been enthralled with mermaids ever since he has been able to talk.  Although he has a “gazillion” toys both at home and at Grandma’s place, his most profound play time seems to revolve around the fringed bookmarks I ordered from the Asamoah family kente weavers of Ghana; a few of them comprise his “mermaids” of varying personalities (and sometimes “attitudes”!)  As time has moved on, my interest has also expanded from collecting Seminole memorabilia for my Black Seminole lectures and exhibits to collecting Black mermaid jewelry and literature,  inspired largely by the Mama Linda sharings and the Black Mermaids group I joined on Facebook.
In addition, I have come to deeply appreciate the great folkloric art, particularly the Black mermaid creations, of one the contemporary great NABS contributor, Carolyn (“Kooki”) Davis of Seattle, Washington.Kooki's pics--bio  A Caribbean-born storyteller as well as wearable art and ancestral doll creator, Kooki is renowned for her show-stopping coats, vests, and jackets, several of which have been purchased right off her back; (only to reveal an equally gorgeous piece layered underneath).
Mama Linda amusingly relates how one of these colorful traffic stoppers  initially  brought her and the renowned Black quilters historian and anthologist, Gladys-Marie Frye together, when she so admired Kooki’s captivating coat creation that she felt that she immediately  had to get contact information for this artist from Mama Linda, who was subsequently shocked to find that the person so taken with her garment was the great ancestral contributor whom she would later come to affectionately call “Mama Frye”.  The rest, of course, is decades-long “herStory.”
 Having accomplished the phenomenal task of creating 75 commissioned Mother Mary dolls for NABS’ other beloved co-founder, Mother Mary Carter Smith, Kooki has continued to create a body of work–wearable art and dolls–which is in the collections of proud owners across the nation.  She poetically relates that her inspiration for her work flows from “…every flower, every tree, every woman I see.”
I am particularly proud of her stunning mermaids which have recently swam into my world and of the grandma quilter doll (with her own mini quilt) which reigns in a spot of honor in my ancestral hallway, a tribute to the many talented quilters who have crossed and blessed my life.  Then there is the kente-clad “wisdom seeker” with knowledge keys for hands.  Lastly, just check out, if you will, the piercing gaze of the fur-bedecked mid-aged doll whom I call “the mermaid diva”.  What a story this fiercely proud sister mermaid has to tell.  She has evidently paid her dues!
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 (Kooki Davis photo above- courtesy Carolyn “Kooki” Davis; Yemaya doll in blue – photo credit:  Jeanette (Moonsong) Mallory Hill 2015;  collage/ancestral tribute at Hampton photos:  Linda Cousins-Newton 2015; (the mermaid necklace in the bottom left collage photo is a Deb DiMarco creation.)  The closing photo (bottom left) depicts NABS co-founder, Mama Linda Goss, an ardent tree lover, paying tribute to the ancestors with other griots at the Emancipation Oak at Hampton University, Hampton, VA during the NABS Conference & Festival pilgrimage there in Nov of 2013.  She wears an ancestral tree-bedecked garment designed for her by Kooki  in honor of the occasion.) 
Collecting of the work of this great living ancestor and supremely talented folklore artist, Kooki Davis, is an artistic life enhancement, as I’m sure many NABS members and “Kooki creation collectors” would agree.  I am so pleased that I have learned to recognize that historymakers and contributors are not always of the distant past but oftentimes those like this skilled folkloric artist who actually grace our contemporary world.
–Linda Cousins-Newton