Azalea Storytelling Festival starts March 6
Feb. 9, 2009

LAGRANGE, Ga.—Nationally acclaimed storytellers will visit LaGrange March 6-8 to spin tales of comedy and drama during the 13th annual Azalea Storytelling Festival, which takes place at Callaway Auditorium.

A past winner of the National Storytelling Leadership Award, the festival this year will feature a group of artists whose work represents a diverse range of content and style.

Donald Davis, a longtime favorite at the annual event, returns again this year.
A master storyteller, Davis began learning his craft while growing up on the western North Carolina land his family has lived on since 1781.

He is an author, recording artist and retired minister whose yarns have been described as “funny but true, nostalgic without being sentimental, and reminiscent of your favorite childhood adventures.”

Davis is a former chairperson of the board of directors for the National Storytelling Association, and he has appeared as the featured teller at the Smithsonian Institution, the World’s Fair and at festivals and concerts throughout the United States and the world.

The Los Angeles Times describes him as “among the most popular figures on today’s storytelling circuit.”

Kathryn Tucker WindhamProlific author Kathryn Tucker Windham also will perform at this year’s Azalea event.

One of the pioneering female journalists in the South, Windham covered the civil rights struggle that took place in her hometown, Selma, Ala.

Since that time, she has continued to write, photograph and tell stories about the people and places that fascinate her, and she is credited with contributing to storytelling’s surge in popularity in the mid 1970s.

An author of 24 books, Windham is perhaps best known for her “Thirteen Ghosts and Jeffrey” series, which tells stories of Southern ghosts, including an amiable apparition that Windham believes has taken up residence in her Selma home.

During her career, Windham has earned a number of honors. In 1995, she was presented the Lifetime Achievement Award by the National Storytelling Association.

Donna WashingtonAuthor and award-winning storyteller Donna Washington will exhibit her talents on the Azalea stage.

Washington became interested in storytelling as a child listening to her father recount tales of Arthurian legend and Greek mythology. While attending Northwestern University, she was involved with numerous theatrical productions and her interest in storytelling was rekindled.

 Since that time, Washington has performed at thousands of schools and libraries and numerous storytelling festivals throughout the country.

She has penned three books, including “The Story of Kwanzaa,” which has been in print for more than a decade.

As a recording artist, Washington has earned multiple awards, including the Parent’s Choice Award for her recording “Live and Learn: The Exploding Frog and Other Stories.”

Syd LiebermanSyd Lieberman, an author, writer and internationally acclaimed storyteller, will entertain festival audiences this year.

Lieberman has performed at major storytelling festivals around the world, with featured appearances at the National Festival in Jonesborough, Tenn., and the Glistening Waters Festival in New Zealand.

Many of his best-loved stories deal with growing up and raising a family in Chicago, and he also is known for his original historical pieces and his signature versions of Jewish and literary tales.

The National Storytelling Network and the Golden Apple Foundation have both awarded Lieberman their highest honors, and major institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution and NASA have commission him to write and perform hour-long histories.

Along with the four national tellers, two regional tellers will share their stories with the Azalea audiences. Slated to perform this year are Carol Cain and Wanda Washington. Cain, a Hogansville native, also will serve as master of ceremonies.

The festival officially begins on Friday, March 6, with a 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. storytelling concert. It continues Saturday with the first concert scheduled for 10 a.m., followed by concerts at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

The final day of the concert is Sunday, March 8, beginning with coffee and donuts at 8:30 a.m. and followed by sacred storytelling and music at 9:30 a.m. and 10:50 a.m.

This year’s Azalea Storytelling Festival is sponsored by Lafayette Society for Performing Arts, LaGrange College, LaGrange Memorial Library, LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce, Troup County School System and West Georgia Technical College.

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.

For more information, please call (706) 756-4610, visit the Azalea Web site at www.lagrange.edu/azalea, or e-mail bknight@westgatech.edu.

A four-year liberal arts and sciences college affiliated with the United Methodist Church, LaGrange College is ranked in the top 10 and as a “best value” among 95 Southern baccalaureate colleges by U.S. News & World Report. The college is the oldest private institution of higher learning in Georgia and has an enrollment of about 1,000 students.





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