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McBride-Smith shares witty retelling of myths

Editor’s Note: With the 24th annual Tale-Telling Festival beginning this Friday, the Times-Journal is featuring three stories profiling the storytellers that will be at the event.

If you want to hear Greek myths the regular way, just read Edith Hamilton’s “Mythology.” But, if you want to hear an exciting twist on the tired old tales, go listen to Barbara McBride-Smith.

McBride-Smith is one of the three featured storytellers at the Tale-Telling Festival, which takes place Friday and Saturday at Pickard Auditorium. She is renowned for her family stories, modern folktales and entertaining stories from the Bible and Greek myths.

“I thought I learned the lessons of life through stories,” McBride-Smith said in an interview published in the Jackson City, Tenn. Herald and Tribune.

Born in Texas, McBride-Smith grew up around storytellers. She graduated from Abilene Christian University in 1966 then got her masters nine years later from Boston University. She went on to become a teacher, then a school librarian and finally a university professor.

She started touring as a storyteller in 1987 and has been going ever since, her most recent stop being the National Storyteller Festival in Tennessee, which was held this past weekend. She is the author of three books and has had her work published in several anthologies.

McBride-Smith’s resume is also impressive.

She has served on the board of directors for several storytelling associations around the nation, including the national one.

She has also recorded six cassette tapes of her stories.

In March 2001, McBride-Smith was honored as Tulsa’s teacher of the year.

Ginger Harvill, who wrote a piece about McBride-Smith for the tale telling festival, praised McBride-Smith’s Texas drawl, puns and animated facial expressions, saying that those are part of what gives her so much character.

“Yet, she stays true to the original characters and plots of the myths, believing that they offer universal appeal,” Harvill said.

For example, McBride-Smith’s Medusa has snakes in her hair, but she attempts to get them out using modern conveniences such as hot rollers, gel and mousse.

McBride-Smith will join Emmy-award winning storyteller Jim May and Selma’s own Kathryn Windham as the three featured storytellers at this year’s festival.

The featured tale tellers will perform Friday and Saturday beginning at 7 p.m. The Swappin’ Ground-A-Time, when everyone gets a chance to be a storyteller, will precede the main event and is scheduled for 5:30 p.m.