Tradition in Contemparary Performance

March 6, 2009

Linda, a 2006 Transformation Awardee, is a storyteller who uses the medium to inspire people to respond to inequity in the world and to share a vision for hope, freedom, healing, and justice. Linda’s stories are in the tradition of her African and African American ancestors, and tell of how people make choices and face power. Her repertoire is vast, with stories ranging from those passed down to her by family members, oral histories, folktales from the African American oral tradition, and original pieces. She is an agent for social change; her storytelling legitimizes and validates everyday stories, naming peoples’ experiences. Her art is built upon the transformative power of storytelling, empowering all people to acknowledge, know, and express their own stories, which she sees as a radical act in these repressive times. They also teach long-term African American community survival strategies, by telling stories that have helped generation of Black people endure and continue to struggle. After an experience in 1982 when she was one of two Black storytellers at a national storytellers gathering, Linda organized with other storytellers to create their own festival, In the Tradition: National Black Storytelling Festival, which, in 1984, gave birth to the National Association of Black Storytellers, established as a space to bring out stories from the community. That same year, Linda was named the Official Storyteller of Philadelphia by the Mayor. She has worked for over 30 years in the Philadelphia community, from circles for mothers to share stories of murdered children to circles for breast cancer survivors to documenting community stories in North Philadelphia with the Village of Art and Humanities “Bearing Witness: Invoking Spirit, Embracing Memory” Project.

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