Donald Davis was born in a Southern Appalachian mountain world rich in stories. “I didn’t learn stories, I just absorbed them,” he says as he recounts tales and more tales learned from a family of traditional storytellers who have lived on the same Western North Carolina land since 1781. Davis grew up hearing gentle fairy tales, simple and silly Jack tales, scary mountain lore, ancient Welsh and Scottish folktales and most importantly, nourishing true-to-life stories of his own neighbors and kin.
Carmen Agra Deedy is the author of eleven books for children, including The Library Dragon, The Cheshire Cheese Cat, Martina the Beautiful Cockroach, and 14 Cows for America, a New York Times Best-seller. Her personal stories first appeared on NPR’s All Things Considered; funny, insightful, and frequently irreverent, Deedy’s narratives are culled from her childhood as a Cuban refugee in the all-but-sleepy Southern town of Decatur, Georgia. She is also host of the four-time Emmy-winning children’s program, Love That Book!
An award-winning author and storyteller, Ms. Deedy is also an accomplished lecturer, having been a guest speaker for both the TED and TEDx Conferences, the Library of Congress, Columbia University, The National Book Festival, Kennedy Center, among other distinguished venues. In the fall of 2016, she opened the Art of the Book Lecture Series, for the Smithsonian Libraries, and was a keynote speaker at the Association of International Baccalaureate Schools of Costa Rica Conference.
A new picture book, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! (Scholastic Press) was released in 2017 and two new books are set to be released in 2020 and 2021.
Bil Lepp tells original, hilarious, tales that will bring a smile to the face of even the most ill-humored person around. Bil has been a Featured Teller at the National Storytelling Festival several times, and at The Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Bil is an award-winning author and recording artist, and has been featured at venues across the nation, including a recent appearance for Comedy Central. Lepp is the recipient of the Storytelling Circle of Excellence Award. He recently won the 2013 Parents’ Choice Gold Award for The King of Little Things, his first picture book.
Audiences across the country enjoy storyteller Tim Lowry, as he mixes stories from American History with a variety of folktales and personal narrative. The award-winning recording artist and author has performed on television and in hundreds of appearances nationwide.
When he is not on the road, he makes his home in Summerville, South Carolina, where he often performs stories of southern culture and history from the “Sweet Tea Trail.” He has made several television appearances, recorded a number of storytelling CDs, filmed a DVD, and written a storytelling handbook.
Josh Goforth must have been born musical—he was already playing piano in church at the age of four—but it was an experience he had in the sixth grade that really lit the fuse of his precocious musical career. A performance at Goforth's middle school by Sheila Kay Adams caused him to start thinking about the musical heritage of his native Madison County. A couple of years later, he received his first guitar from one of his great-uncles, and began to learn the instrument under the tutelage of another great-uncle. The great-great-great-grandson of Madison County fiddler Asbury McDevitt was launched on a career in traditional music.
Over the next few years he learned to play at least ten different instruments by ear, learning from such local masters as Gordon and Arvil Freeman. Most famous for his fiddling, Goforth is a highly accomplished oldtime, bluegrass, and swing musician, but is remarkably versatile, able to pick up any of a wide variety of instruments and make a solid contribution in almost any kind of band. He was active in his high school's music program, and with Goforth as drum major, the Madison High School Marching Band won first place in each of the thirty-three competitions it entered. Among the pieces in its repertoire was a composition that Goforth wrote, based on a sacred harp hymn.