Storytelling Festival Comes to Laurinburg
The Storytelling Arts Center of the Southeast brings "Tunes, Tales and Tapestries," a festival featuring music, stories and art of African-, Native- and Scottish-Americans.
Nationally known artists are set to perform in Laurinburg at this three-day festival from May 20-22. A gallery exhibit, featuring some of these artists, along with a juried art show runs through May 26.
Nationally known artists, musicians and storytellers will perform at "Tunes, Tales and Tapestries." Festival-goers will be treated to the Scottish fiddling of Jamie Laval, the jazz of Big Daddy Rhythm and the Heavyweights, and the hypnotic tunes of Jonathan C. Ward. They'll also hear stories from performers Tyris D. Jones, Kat Littleturtle and Hannah Harvey.
"Tunes, Tales and Tapestries" features the soulful jazz of a saxophone, the wilting lull of a flute and the melodic strings of a violin as nationally recognized musicians bring their tunes to downtown Laurinburg.
Laurinburg native Vince McDougald will wow the audience on festival weekend with his band Big Daddy Rhythm and the Heavyweights. Along with jazz, they'll perform their special brand of beach music.
"The audience is often as big a part of the show as the band," McDougald says. McDougald has played professionally for more than 20 years and has earned numerous awards.
To help bring a Scottish flavor to the festivities, premier Celtic violinist Jamie Laval will perform lilting melodies. He transforms simple Celtic folk songs into stories that dazzle audiences worldwide.
Laval throws away the sheet music and performs from the heart.
"When you know and feel the music completely, sheet music becomes irrelevant," Laval says.
Flautist Jonathan C. Ward also throws his heart into his tunes.
"I enjoy sharing my heart and my heritage through music," says Ward, a Lumbee native.
Ward is the 2010 winner of the Native Rhythms Flute Player Competition. He enjoys educating others about his heritage and the important role that flute plays in it.
Jan Schmidt, executive director of the Storytelling and Arts Center, wanted to bring storytelling to the event as well. She explains that authentic storytelling is a performance genre and an artistic medium crafted by speech, imagery, stage presence and an integral relationship with the audience. The three nationally known storytellers for the weekend possess the well-honed attributes of a seasoned storyteller.
Kat Littleturtle appeals to the story lover in each of us, taking her audience on an individual journey inside their own creative imagination. Raised in Appalachian culture, Littleturtle was always being told stories, legends and tall tales. Steeped in this rich tradition, storytelling became as natural to her as speaking.
Littleturtle, with four decades of professional experience and a lifetime of practical knowledge in native traditions, is a wonderfully unique teller who engages every audience.
Award-winning storyteller Hannah Harvey enjoys teaching others about her Scottish heritage. A native of the Appalachian Mountains, Harvey spins tales from her rich background. She sprinkles humor into coal mining tales and tops each story off with a heap of enthusiasm. She spent time in Scotland hearing stories firsthand, researching new stories and learning more about Scottish traditions.
Laurinburg native Tyris D. Jones started out teaching and soon realized storytelling was his passion. His animated expressions and charismatic delivery stem from his theatrical background.
"I enjoy telling tales of all types and cultures," Jones says. "But there is something special about having the opportunity of telling tall tales, folk tales >and just my tales of African-Americans, especially in Laurinburg, my hometown."
Southeast North Carolina holds many treasures and the Storytelling Arts Center of the Southeast hopes to spotlight just a few of them. Nationally and locally recognized artists Gene Locklear, Charles McNeill and Bettie McNair are displaying their work in an exhibit that runs through May 26.
Gene Locklear, a former New York Yankees baseball player, never lets his audience forget about his roots in Robeson County. This Native Lumbee paints magnificent works of his native ancestry and professional sports players.
"I draw from my experiences as both a baseball player and a Lumbee Indian," Locklear said. "I paint subject matter and technique according to how I feel."
Feeling the connection to her subject matter is also important to Laurinburg native Bettie McNair.
"I am a self-taught artist who fell in love with oil pastels," McNair says. McNair's paintings are hanging in private collections throughout the country. Best in Show and People's Choice awards are commonly seen on this artist's work. > McNair, an advocate for the arts, was honored with the Governor's Award for volunteering in the arts. Her work incorporates vibrant color and attention to detail.
Although he is no longer with us, Charles McNeill's work will be showcased through the help of his children and nephews. McNeill embraced his Scottish heritage. Throughout his life, McNeill loved art and was drawn to watercolors. > He was sketching and painting aboard ship during the wartime years, thus his work included scenes from exotic places like Baghdad and Dar Es Salaam. >
But the bulk of McNeill's hundreds of paintings were of scenes around North Carolina, including Lake Waccamaw and the ocean beaches of Carteret County. >
His paintings are exhibited in Atlanta, Charleston, and the National Watercolor Society Galleries in New York, as well as at numerous local exhibits in North Carolina. McNeill is also known for his dedication to developing the North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort, now a nationally recognized museum.
These three artists will have a sampling of their works hung at the Storytelling Arts Center. Along with their pieces, guests can view works by the winners of a juried exhibition. All viewings are free and open to the public.
A showcase of the musicians and storytellers, with a sampling of their work, will take place at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 20, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. On May 21, artwork from students in Scotland County Public Schools will line the streets of downtown Laurinburg as the Childrens' Art Festival sponsors its annual show. Vendors, crafts and talent will be on hand. Harvey, Lowry Jones and others will spin some yarns in the center while McDougald, Ward and Laval entertain on the street.
"It's going to be amazing," says Brenda Gilbert, the board chair of the Storytelling Arts Center. "It will be exciting to see the different roots of our community on display in a variety of forms."
A "Tunes, Tales and Tapestries" gala will cap off Saturday evening. Beginning at 7 p.m., featured musicians and storytellers will perform on stage at the center. The cost for tickets to this event is $10 in advance and $12 at the door.
A conversation with the artists and performers will take place at the center from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, May 22.
This event is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.
Admission to the exhibit and all activities, except Saturday evening, are free and open to the public. The center hopes to portray the broad talent that exists within the dynamic cultures of the Sandhills and Pee Dee region, of North Carolina.
Call (910) 877-3599 for details or ticket information. The center is located at 131 S. Main St. in downtown Laurinburg.
The Storytelling and Arts Center of the Southeast was founded in 2007. The center works to preserve and enrich the lives of children and adults through a focus on the arts, education, research, performances, workshops and writing. The center also serves as a catalyst for community development in Scotland County.
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