Connie Regan-Blake as photographed by Rebecca D'Angelo
As an art form, storytelling has gained recognition over the years, but Connie Regan-Blake [who has been a professional storyteller for 40 years] says she still receives the occasional raised eyebrow when she writes it as her occupation on legal documents. “In the 1970s, the National Storytelling Festival was the only festival. Now, almost every state in the union has a storytelling festival,” she says. In North Carolina, she reckons there are more than half a dozen.
Guilds and societies have sprung up around storytelling. The Asheville Storytelling Circle is a group of committed storytellers (Regan-Blake is a member), and she participates in local story slams at places like The Magnetic Field and Firestorm Café in downtown Asheville.
As a pioneer of the storytelling movement, mentors were hard to come by in the early days when Regan-Blake established a lifelong friendship with Ray Hicks. One of the original storytellers, Hicks passed away in 2003. The two met in 1973 at the first national storytelling festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. “He really lived the stories,” she says. “He taught me that the stories are alive for you and you’re living them.” -Read the full article: Storied Past (and Future) Verve Magazine July 2011