I am a full time professional storyteller and I absolutely love what I do. Why do I love it so much? Because it has allowed me to help others elevate their thinking. It has also removed obstacles from my path and allowed me to see things from a more positive perspective. The first story I ever heard was, “Why the Eagle Has a Bald Head.” I have told that story to this day because I believe it is so powerful and significant for all to hear. That story was told to me by my great grandmother when I was a child. I didn’t know how fortunate I was.
I have been named the Master Folk Artist of Missouri in the area of storytelling nine times by the Missouri Traditional Artist Apprenticeship Program. I am listed in the Missouri Touring Roster periodical and have been the subject of several PBS specials. Interviewed by CSPAN for my role as Dred Scott’s wife was very rewarding. Nothing could have prepared me for receiving the “Individual Artist of the Year Award” from the Missouri Arts Council or the “Distinguished Literary Achievement Award” from the Governor’s Humanities Council for my book, Stories From the Heart, “ Missouri’s African American Heritage.” I have witnessed lives change for the better. I have seen people who have viewed life as a disaster find new hope and even humor in it through storytelling.
No, storytelling is not a cure for all the ills of our world, but it does provide a solution and alternatives to many of our challenges. In 2005, I had a stroke and I was at the height of my storytelling career. The stories that got me to this point carried me through such a trying time of re-learning how to walk, and talk (which was my gift). Stories from my grandmother encouraged me to keep going. In 2015, what a surprise to learn that I received an Honorary Doctorate degree for my work in storytelling. I cried knowing that my passion for storytelling has taken me from a high school dropout to receiving an honorary doctorate degree.
If you think I had stories then, imagine the stories I have now.