Press release from the Center for Cultural Preservation:
The Center for Cultural Preservation, WNC’s cultural history and documentary film center, is proud to present its annual Appalachian Storytelling Extravaganza featuring nationally acclaimed storyteller Connie Blake-Regan on Thursday, March 19. Storytelling and music was the mainstay of the Appalachian diet, surrounded by elders who carried on traditions that go back hundreds of years. Connie Blake-Regan was raised on these mountain staples at the breakfast table, at the dinner table and at family gatherings. As an adult, Connie made it her mission to be the keeper of these precious stories. Throughout her trailblazing storytelling career, Connie helped to ignite and shape the American storytelling revival. She served as a founding board member of the National Storytelling Association (formerly NAPPS). Connie is a frequent host and featured performer at the National Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee; she has taken the stage every year since the first festival in 1973.
According to Connie, “We humans have always told and listened to stories – I like to think it’s in our DNA. And whether we are from these mountains or more recently drawn to them, the folktales from around here, both traditional and personal, connect us to this land, to the Appalachians and to all the generations of those that have settled here. And through the stories we get to be awed, laugh out loud and enjoy the trickster energy and wisdom that abounds in them.”
Dale Neal of USA Today wrote, “You may be sitting here in the 21st century, but Regan-Blake takes you to a timeless place… You can’t help but lean in (as) her voice starts to rise and fall, her hands weave through empty air.”
“Connie was instrumental in the revival of storytelling as a stage presentation back in the 1970s. Our real last famous storyteller was 100 years ago with Mark Twain, who would go around and just tell stories, and people loved it,” Holt said.
One of the giants of WNC storytelling was Ray Hicks, and he became Connie’s friend and mentor and helped to shape her career. In particular he is known for his telling of traditional “Jack Tales”. To this day, Connie still tells stories which she first learned listening to Ray on his front porch. His stories and wisdom continue to have a great impact on Connie’s storytelling and life.
The Appalachian Storytelling program is scheduled for Thursday, March 19, at 7:00 p.m. at Trinity Presbyterian Church near downtown Hendersonville. Delicious desserts will be available courtesy of the Hendersonville Community Coop. Tickets are $15 and advanced reservations are strongly recommended by registering online at www.saveculture.org or calling the Center at (828) 692-8062.
The Center for Cultural Preservation is a cultural nonprofit organization dedicated to working for mountain heritage continuity through oral history, documentary film, education and public programs. For more information about the Center contact them at (828) 692-8062 or www.saveculture.org.