Tale-Tellin’ is back

Published 10:54 am Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Alabama’s 37th annual Tale-Tellin’ Festival is almost here. Set for Oct. 9 and 10, the annual festival founded by the famous storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham and sponsored by ArtsRevive will feature three acts, along with giving amateurs the opportunity to tell their own tales at the Swappin’ Ground. 

“We are excited to have such diverse entertainers this year,” said Tale Tellin’ chairman Ann Thomas. “Some of them will visit local schools and share their stories with students prior to the festival.”

This year’s entertainment offers touching life lessons delivered by Alabama’s Wanda Johnson, who began her career with the encouragement of Windham.

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According to her biography, Johnson is a professional storyteller, teaching artist and inspirational speaker.

Johnson has more than 20 years in the field of education and has won numerous awards for her storytelling.

She in an Alabama Folklife Association Community Scholar, the recipient of the Alabama State Council on the Arts Individual Artist Fellowship, an Alabama Institute for Education in the Arts DANA Foundation-funded Black Belt Trained Teaching Artist and a recipient of the Storytelling World Honor Award for Pre-adolescent Listeners. She has been featured on the Exchange Place Stage at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, the Alabama Tale Tellin’ Festival and Azalea Storytelling Festival in LaGrange, Georgia.

Another storyteller, Bil Lepp, will be taking the stage at the festival to do his best at captivating the audience with his believable lies. According to his biography, Lepp is a nationally renowned storyteller and five-time champion of the West Virginia Liar’s Contest.

“Though a champion liar, his stories often contain morsels of truth which shed light on universal themes,” his biography said.

Lepp has received awards and recognition from The Parents’ Choice Foundation, The National Parenting Publications Association and the Public Library Association. In 2011, Bil was awarded the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Award. He has been featured 13 times at the National Storytelling Festival and performed at major storytelling festival, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and at corporate events and functions across the country.

Closing out the performers are Kim and Reggie Harris, who will present their gospel and folk legacy through a repertoire of music and stories.

According to their biography, the Harris’ combine a strong folk and gospel legacy with a background in classical, rock and pop music. The duo has performed with Pete Seeger, Ysaye Barnwell, Jay Leno, Tom Paxton and more. The Harris’ have been acknowledged for their contributions to the resources and knowledge base in historical and educational circles on the Underground Railroad and the modern civil rights movement.

“Kim and Reggie Harris are dynamic and superbly talented traditional folk performers whose captivating state presence and unique harmonies has earned the respect and love of audiences throughout the U.S., Canada and Europe for over 30 years,” their biography states. “They are unique in their ability to entertain audiences of any age and background as they blend their talents as singers, songwriters, educators, interpreters of history and cultural advocates.”

The annual festival will be making a change this year in its location by moving to the Wallace Community College Selma Theater, located just north of U.S. Highway 80, 3000 Earl Goodwin Parkway. Tickets are $15 for adults for one night or $25 for both nights, $10 for students ages 9-17 for one night and $15 for both nights and free for children age 8 and under. Tickets will be sold at the door or in advance through PayPal. For more information, call 878-2787, email info@artsrevive.com or visit the website at www.artsrevive. The Swapin’ Ground will begin at 6 p.m. with the main acts to follow at 7 p.m. on Oct. 9 and 10.