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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Where is the Storyteller’s Voice in The Protest for Justice For Mike Brown?

Ferguson reacts to shooting of Michael Brown

Photo Credit:  Christian Gooden—St. Louis Post-Dispatch/Polaris

I know I am not alone in my feeling of angst and rage over the death of Michael Brown , yet another unarmed Black male slaughtered.  I also knew I was not alone as I searched and prayed and prayed and searched for the ONE THING I could do.

Over and over I tried to come up with something.  What is there  for me to do as an African?  What is there  for me to do as a storyteller?

Some have taken to the streets to express their anger and frustration.  Some are organizing and planning.   Where are the storytellers in this crisis?

I reached out to the storytellers’ storyteller,  my mentor, Baba Jamal Koram.   After talking to Baba I felt more settled.  I began to get some inkling of an idea of what story to tell. After talking to my other mentor, the one many of us call “the storyteller’s scholar”, Caroliese Frink Reed,  the idea was fleshed out some more, but not fully enough to articulate to anyone.

Then I went and read my internal artistic mission statement.

“Words are how I metabolize life. What is produced from that metabolism is stories, songs, and poetry that help me make sense out the senseless, heal from unimaginable pain, and love again and again and again. The sharing of those stories, songs and poetry helps my audience do the same.” 

To be a part of the healing around Mike Brown’s death and the thousands upon thousands of others, I do not know if I have to create a new story or song or poem.  I do not know if it is an old story or song or poem. I DO know my work to do is in words.

During the protests and outcry after the death of Trayvon Martin ,  I told an old story to middle school students in Philadelphia.  I set up the story by saying, “The story I am about to tell you is a hard story to tell. It is a difficult story to tell. You will find it hard to understand. You may remark ‘Things were crazy in the olden days!’ This is a story about four 18-year-old teenagers who risked arrest, assault and even their very lives on Feb. 1, 1960, when they made the choice to sit at a snack bar.”

Immediately, I could hear rumblings from the youth in the audience confirming for me that they thought the story was hard to believe. I then said, “Thirty years from now you will be about my age; and you will have to explain to some young people how a 17-year- old could be shot and killed near his home while talking on a phone to his friend and after simply buying Skittles and Arizona ice tea.”

What I heard next was a mixture of shock, understanding and disbelief all rolled together.  But I knew I had them!

And I knew this auditorium full of middle school students were ripe and ready to not only hear the story of the Greensboro Four, but now they could also probably see themselves at the counter.  Now they could possibly see themselves in the street protesting inequality not just then, but now.

I concluded the story by saying that any meaningful change that has ever happened in the world has happened when young people were organized and galvanized to fight for change.

I then sang the words of freedom fighter, Ella Baker, “I believe young people come first. They have the courage where we fail.”

Yeah, I do not know what has to come forth from my mouth at this time for this healing, but I do know that something will come. What say you, storyteller?

–TAHIRA

 

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Tahira
TAHIRA’s name is legally spelled with all capital letters to serve as a reminder that a storyteller has a HUGE responsibility to the community. TAHIRA, a Featured Teller for the 2014 National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. “In The Tradition” Festival & Conference, she is also the current treasurer and past president of Keepers Of The Culture, Inc., a NABS affiliate. To find out more about TAHIRA visit her website at www.TAHIRAproductions.com

We Don’t Just Tell the Story–We WEAR the Story!

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(There was no room in this collage to give a description of the bottom photos.  At left is the Seminole patchwork jacket adorned with mudcloth from Ghana, mudcloth cap, and accompanied by a Seminole patchwork vest and  mudcloth and liberation earrings (Shaz Gallery of Brooklyn jewelry designs).  Perfect for packing to wear at my NABS workshop on African-Amerindian Connections.  (At right, one of those NABS Vendors’ Marketplace finds I couldn’t resist–a mudcloth “mosaic” coat that is still stopping traffic (sidewalk traffic at least) whenever I wear it with that sassy matching hat, pants, and bag).  Didn’t have an inch of room in my luggage to pack it after NABS 2012, so I wore it home–and have been joyfully wearing it ever since.)
Among the myriad cultural delights of the annual NABS Festivals are beholding the warm-spirited multi-talented griots as they resplendently bring the ancestral Village to the varied national venues of the festival, telling the age-old story in word, song, dance, and most definitely in artistic attire.  One can dress casually and comfortably at NABS and feel right at home; then one can also “fall out sharp”, as the Tennessee elders would say, in Africancentric attire, turning heads and lifting minds wherever one steps through not only telling the story but wearing the story.
A special part of the exciting itinerary at the Festival are visits to the Vendors’ Marketplace where one can find all manner of eye-catching, reasonably-priced outfits, jewelry, and home decor for the outer self as well as books, music, and spoken Word items to usher the mind and soul to new levels of knowledge, wisdom, and relaxed enjoyment.  NABS attendees are passionate about supporting the businesses of our people, so not only do many return home with luggage bulging with new outfits, literature, and music, but to encourage further support and appreciation of the global vendors and their unique offerings, the Vendors’ Marketplace is also set aside as a site for “Village Storytelling” and/or welcoming first-time attendees of the festival.
Attending NABS provides a treasure chest of enduring cultural memories and to top it off, if one is so inclined, a closet full of wearable art to grace one’s being until one can return to share, shop, listen, learn, and be both elevated and motivated at the next unforgettable NABS  Festival venue.
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Top left, Former Festival Director Br. Akbar Imhotep of Atlanta, a proud African storyteller shining forth like the sun in rich gold–a perfect place to stand in front of the colorful quilt of beautifully attired queen sisters;  bottom left, Baba Jamal  Koram (left) of North Carolina and Oba William King (right) of Chicago, master drummers and griots, who dress the story as skillfully as they drum, sing, and share the Word.)  Check out the unique, patchwork vest of Brother Dylan Pritchett (right) of Virginia another former NABS Festival Director.  As he accepts the award for his dedicated service, he’s accompanied by a Br. Dylan doll which just has to be a fabulous  Kooki Davis creation.  The l’il brother has evidently had a busy day catching all of the NABS sights and sounds.  He had to kick off those shoes and give his feet a break!  )

NABS is replete with Africancentric scholars, researchers, artists and performers covering the waterfront of griot contributions.  When we gather, as mentioned in this post, one will find a diverse range of beautiful ancestral garments including geles and ensembles made from the cloth purchased or imported from the Continent.  Here are a couple of titles of possible interest in regard to this attire displayed in our “wearing the story”:

HEADWRAPS – A Global Journey – Georgia Scott.  Public Affairs, NY. 2003.

INDIGO – In Search of the Color That Seduced the World – Catherine E. McKinley.  Bloomsbury USA, NY, 2011.

—Linda Cousins-Newton
Brooklyn, NY
copyright (c) Ancestral ProMotions 2014