Black Master Storytellers Festival to celebrate Black joy

Black Storytellers Festival
Submitted photos (l-r, top-bottom) Jan Blake, Nothando Zulu, Vusi and Nothando Zulu, Danielle Daniel, Nunn Above, Gwen Matthews and Robert “Eddie” Robinson

This year’s fest will be virtual

The 31st annual Black Master Storytellers Festival, to be held Sept. 24 and 25 at 6 pm, will be held virtually. The theme for the event is “Black Joy: Stories Celebrating Hope, Resilience & Love.”

“It has been through storytelling, which has expressed our feelings, our thoughts, and responses to our lived experiences, that Minnesota’s Black Storytellers Alliance has kept Black stories alive for 31 years—through the Black Master Storytellers Festival,” said Titilayo Bediako, executive director of the WE WIN INSTITUTE. The festival is a veritable collage of great storytelling and great music.

The event will feature skilled storytellers from around the world, using the richness of oral traditions to evoke images in the mind’s eye that brings the rich African American experience to life. 

Storytellers use song, dance, drumming, music as well as “call and response” to share the splendor of African and African American history and culture.

“In these times when the onslaught of trauma seems to never end, this is an opportunity for the entire family to enjoy the power of inspiring stories and uplifting songs,” said local renowned storyteller Vusi Zulu.

The griot, or storyteller, is one of the oldest traditions in Africa.

According to organizers, Black folks, even in the diaspora, are oral people who have used storytelling as a way of passing on African traditions, values, and behaviors, and as a way of preserving the culture. 

Each evening will include a different master storyteller interspersed with music from Minnesota’s own national recording artists, including Gwen Matthews, Robert “Eddie” Robinson, and Nunn Above.

This year’s storytellers are Jan Blake, London, UK; Mama Linda Goss, Baltimore, MD; Dylan Pritchett, Richmond, VA; Toni Simmons, Dallas, TX; Atiba Kwabena Wilson, Harlem, NY; Lyn Ford, Columbus, OH; Mitch Capel (Gran’DaddY June Bug) Southern Pines, North Carolina; Elisha Minter, Charlotte, NC; Chetter Galloway, Atlanta, GA; Danielle Daniel, St. Paul, MN; Kristie Lazenberry, Coon Rapids, MN, and Joshua Cheo Gillespie, Minneapolis, MN.

The Black Master Storytellers Festival is made possible through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, as a result of the legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.

All events are free and include American Sign Language Interpreters and are family-friendly.

 For more info, call 612-529-5864 or or visit the website