Azalea Storytelling Festival

Storytellers ready to take the stage at festival

Feb. 15, 2013

This year's Azalea Storytelling Festival will be featuring some of the event's most beloved artists during its run March 1–3 at Callaway Auditorium.

Chief among those is Donald Davis, who helped get the festival started 17 years ago and was one of its first storytellers. Also making encores on the Azalea stage are nationally acclaimed storytellers Carmen Deedy, Eric Litwin and Ed Stivender. Carol Howington Cain '85 returns as master of ceremonies.

Connie Regan-Blake
Donald Davis
Donald Davis
Carmen Deedy
Carmen Deedy

Eric Litwin
Eric Litwin

Ed Stivender Ed Stivender

Carol Cain
Carol Cain

New to the festival this year is Connie Regan-Blake , who is considered one of America's most celebrated storytellers.

Regan-Blake is a founding board member of the National Storytelling Association, and is a host and featured performer at the national festival in Jonesborough, Tenn. In 2006, she received the National Storytelling Network's Lifetime Achievement Award.

"Connie is no stranger to storytelling audiences around the country and the world," Cain said. "She's one of the first to bring storytelling to the national stage, igniting the American storytelling revival. She is a powerful and captivating teller, whether spinning a mountain folk tale or a telling her own story. We are pleased and lucky to have her with us."

Regan-Blake has been featured on seven award-winning recordings – five audios and two videos produced by PBS.  She has been a guest on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered," ABC's "Good Morning America" and CNN. 

Donald Davis
Davis was born in a Southern Appalachian mountain world rich in stories and into a family of traditional storytellers who have lived on the same Western North Carolina land since 1781. A graduate of Davidson College and Duke University Divinity School, Davis served as a Methodist minister for 20 years before retiring to become a full-time storyteller. 

A prominent member of the national storytelling scene, Davis is a celebrated master teacher of workshops and storytelling courses.  In 2010, he received the National Storytelling Network's Lifetime Achievement Award. 

Davis has also made or contributed to more than 30 storytelling recordings, and has more than a dozen books to his credit. 

Carmen Deedy
Deedy came to the U.S. as a refugee from Havana in 1964. She grew up in Decatur, Ga., where she lives today. 

She began writing as a young mother.  During the past 20 years, her bestselling children's books and recordings have garnered many national and international awards and recognitions.  Deedy has been an invited speaker in forums as varied as the American Library Association, the Smithsonian Institution, the Kennedy Center and NPR. 

She is a 2008 recipient of the National Storytelling Network's Circle of Excellence award. 

Eric Litwin
Litwin is an award-winning author and musician. His book, "Pete the Cat: I Love my White Shoes," was No. 1 on the "New York Times" list, and his CD "The Big Silly" was the winner of national awards, including the Parenting Media Award, Children's Music Web Award and Parents' Choice Recommended Award winner.

He earned a master's degree in education from George Washington University and a master's in public administration from the Nelson Rockefeller School of Public Affairs and Policy.

He has played at Lincoln Center, as well as at schools and libraries across the country.

Ed Stivender
Stivender grew up in Springfield, Pa., and attended Catholic parochial schools.  After earning a master's degree in theology from Notre Dame, he taught religion in a Catholic high school in Connecticut, where he honed his performance skills and learned the art of "controlled foolishness." 

Described as "the Robin Williams of storytelling" and "a Catholic Garrison Keillor," Stivender is universally recognized as one of America's finest storytellers and was inducted into The National Storytelling Association's Circle of Excellence in 1996. 

He is the author of "Raised Catholic (Can You Tell?)" and "Still Catholic After All These Fears."

Carol Cain
Cain is a native of Hogansville, and has performed as Rosie the Riveter for 18 years, sharing the stories of women workers in World War II.  During the summer of 2008, she served as emcee and as a teller for the Georgia Showcase at the National Storytelling Network Conference in Gatlinburg, Tenn.  In the fall of 2011, Utah's Timpanogos Storytelling Festival welcomed her to the national stage. 

She also appeared in BYU TV's "What's Your Story?" a documentary with Donald Davis filmed on North Carolina's Ocracoke Island.  An experienced educator, she now spends a good portion of her summers telling stories for Vacation Reading Programs throughout the state. 

Tickets are $35 for the full festival, $15 for Friday evening, $30 for Saturday, $10 for Saturday morning and Saturday afternoon, and $15 for Saturday evening. Student tickets can be purchased at a discount, and admission is free Sunday morning.

Early registration ends Feb. 22.  Tickets will be available at the door or by calling (706) 882-9909.




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