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2024 Texas Storytelling Festival Featured Storytellers

Nestor Gomez

Nestor has always loved writing. However, the first time he told a story at a Moth stage it was meant only to be as a way to get over his fear of public speaking. As a child growing up in Guatemala, he suffered from a speech impediment—stuttering. That problem was aggravated when his family moved to Chicago undocumented in the mid 80’s. Nestor found himself without a voice, not only due to stuttering but also the absence of proper work documents and lack of English language skills. His life was transformed the day he went to a Moth event—a live first-person storytelling based on a theme—and forced himself to share his story in public for the first time. Today, he is a 65-time Moth Slam winner and three-time Chicago Moth Grand Slam winner. He is also the creator, producer, curator and host of ​80 Minutes Around the World, a storytelling show that features the stories of immigrants, their descendants and allies. www.nestorgomezstoryteller.com

Sneak Peek:

Donald Davis

Donald Davis was born in a Southern Appalachian mountain world rich in stories. While he heard many traditional stories about Jack and other heroic characters, he was most attracted to the stories of his own family and places of origin.  Davis began retelling the stories he heard and then adding his own new stories to them until he was repeatedly asked to “tell it again, on purpose.” Davis is a strong advocate of storytelling, not just the profession, but also storytelling in everyday life. He feels that we connect with one another through the stories we tell each other across the family dinner table or at a bar after work. Stories are really about identity—who we are—and that technology may be all about moving information but he advocates that it is in our stories that wisdom is passed down. Donald Davis is a regular at the annual National Storytelling Festival. He has appeared at countless festivals and schools and conducts seminars and master classes on storytelling throughout the United States. The author of eighteen books and more than forty original recordings, Davis is the recipient of both the Circle of Excellence and the Lifetime Achievement Awards from the National Storytelling Network. http://www.ddavisstoryteller.com/

Sneak Peek:

Fran Stallings

Fran Stallings, from Bartlesville, Oklahoma, grew up in a storytelling family and has been telling traditional folktales since childhood. A PhD biologist (but that’s another story), she tries to justify those NSF grants by doing what she can as “EarthTeller” to coach educators, naturalists, and fellow tellers in wielding the power of science-based story to inform, build connections, and act in defense of the ecosystems we share. Fran co-chaired the National Storytelling Network’s two Earth Up conferences (international virtual eco-telling workshops and performances) and helped start NSN’s ECO Special Interest Group.

Fran’s original and traditional tales – often with a twist—keep the fun going. Winner of a Texas Storytelling Festival liars contest, a judge declared, “This elegant but wacky lady reminds me of Carol Burnett!” Her autoharp backs up her songs and accompanies some stories. She learned ancient Japanese folktales from Hiroko Fujita during a 20 year partnership on both sides of the Pacific, for which the duo received NSN’s International Story Bridge ORACLE award. Their collections of rare Japanese tales have won awards. Other publications and videos are on www.franstallings.com

Sneak Peek:

Kathy Hood Culmer

Kathy Hood Culmer is an author, storyteller, speaker and teacher. A graduate of Spelman College, the University of South Florida, and United Theological Seminary, Kathy holds a B.A. in English, an M.A. in English, and a D. Min. in Biblical Storytelling. She has taught on the secondary and college levels in a variety of subject areas ranging from English to Speech Communications, Broadcast Journalism to Religious Education. As a professional storyteller, she has been a teller and workshop presenter in churches, schools, libraries, at festivals, retreats, on college campuses, in business settings, and a variety of other venues. Kathy has performed at the Exchange Place at the National Storytelling Festival, Georgia State University, Duke University’s Mary Lou Williams Center for Black Culture, the Texas Storytelling Festival, and was the Featured Storyteller at the Network of Biblical Storytellers 2008 Festival Gathering. She was a part of a 2008 Biblical Storytelling Mission Trip to The Gambia in West Africa. Her life’s work is to provide words of encouragement, truth, and inspiration to others through telling, writing, and speaking. She is the editor of a collection of personal narratives Yes, Jesus Loves Me: 31 Love Stories, and is author of On the Wings of Prayer, a collection of prayers and inspirations, as well as “Big Wheel Cookies: Two for a Penny,” published in The Rolling Stone and Other Read Aloud Stories. http://www.kathyculmer.com/

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