Nothando Zulu is president of Black Storytellers Alliance and has been producing a three-day Black storytelling festival (“Signifyin’ & Testifyin’”) in the Twin Cities since 1991. She has been telling stories since she was a little girl growing up in Franklin, Virginia. She is a wife, mother, grandmother and great-grandmother and Master storyteller who believes in the power of storytelling!
As childhood friends growing up in Denver, Colorado, Joe Mailander and Justin Lansing were always exploring the outdoors. Now, as the GRAMMY® Award-winning Okee Dokee Brothers, they have put this passion at the heart of their Americana Folk music. Joe and Justin record and perform family music with a goal to inspire participants to motivate kids to gain a greater respect in many areas. Five-time Parents’ Choice Award winners, they are called “two of family music’s best songwriters.”
For more than 30 years, Austrian storyteller Helmut Wittmann has performed at national and international storytelling-festivals as well as at schools and institutes. He has published collections of Austrian fairy tales and has his own radio-show at the Austrian National Broadcasting Corporation (ORF) where he brings inspiring stories and music from all over the world.
Vladimir combines traditional instruments from South America with Latin rhythms such as Cumbia, Salsa, Guajira, Reggaeton, Reggae, and Nueva Cancion. Born in Chile, he has been playing music in the Twin Cities with his band, Alma Andina, for more than seven years. They bring an eclectic mix of musical flavors that invites beautiful and evolving diversity. Storytelling through music is one of his natural gifts. www.almaandinamn.com
Jordan Eugen Hanssen has travelled the world as author, adventurer, and artist. When he was young, he got a Guinness World Record by racing across the Atlantic with three friends in a rowboat! He is rich in friends and has an amazing family who support storytelling. By carving useful, beautiful things, this makes him feel useful and he enjoys taking people for a row around his home in Seattle, Washington. www.jordanhanssen.com
Stefan Iwaskewycz honors the music and the history of his Ukrainian forebears as a Ukrainian/American community leader and founder of UVB a Ukrainian roots and Zabava (event & wedding) band.
Award winning children's book author and illustrator Matt Faulkner has over 30 books to his credit. He enjoys working on projects both historical and fantastical in nature (and he concentrates very hard not to get them confused). His graphic novel GAIJIN: AMERICAN PRISONER OF WAR, (Little Brown Publishing), won the Asian/Pacific ALA award for 2015. He is married to author and children’s librarian, Kris Remenar. They’ve worked together to create the delightful picture book GROUNDHOG’S DILEMMA (Charlesbridge). They live with their kids and cats in the lower right hand corner of Michigan. mattfaulkner.com
Vanora Franklin Legaux is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana and is Executive Director of the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. (NABS). The beauty and power of her richly told and uniquely-crafted storytelling adventures has captivated audiences in cities across the country. She is passionate and enthusiastic, and she has a beautiful catalogue of oral traditions.
Larry Johnson is a Grand Grandparent who began telling campfire stories in the late 60s. He started the participatory patient TV channel at Minneapolis Children’s Hospital and received the National Achievement Award from Action For Children's Television in 1980 as well as the Grand Prize in Tokyo Video Festival in 1986. Johnson is a past president of Veterans for Peace, author of the book, “Sixty-One,” volunteer with Veteran Resilience Project, and organizer of World Storytelling Day. He taught as a school storytelling/video specialist in Minneapolis, and co-taught Storytelling As A Modern Communication Art at Metro State University. In 2019 he received the Veterans Voices Award from the MN Humanities Center. As director of the OGP (Old Gardening Party), he writes a monthly column encouraging adults to keep the world safe for children, gardening, and storytelling. Larry Johnson's Facebook page
Jimi has lived most of his life in his NE Minneapolis neighborhood where he raised a son and owned a cabinet shop. When his business closed in 2005, he began a new journey of travel, dance, art and community building. In the past decades, he has traveled extensively throughout Latin America and Europe. He spent several years as a fitness and dance instructor while continuing to work in wood, ceramics and nature. His passion for the environment is shown through his indoor greenhouse and outdoor garden, as well as his love for being out in nature. He reads daily and loves exploring folk tales of the world.
Janice Curtis Greene is an award-winning Author, Master Storyteller and Historical Reenactor, an American Griot. She has been telling African, African American and Multicultural stories for over 30 years. She is Past President and Life Member of both the Griot's Circle of Maryland, Inc. and the National Association of Black Storytellers.
Maryland Governor, Lawrence Hogan appointed Mrs. Greene to serve as a Commissioner on the Maryland Commission on African American History and Culture, representing Baltimore County and on September 19, 2022 proclaimed Mrs. Greene the “Official Griot for the State of Maryland”.
Janice the Griot has delighted adult and student audiences at schools, colleges, libraries, hospitals, churches, festivals and various gatherings nationally and internationally. Mrs. Greene mesmerizes her audiences with folktales, song, dance, audience participation, original stories and personal stories and Bible Stories set to syncopated Rap rhythms.
Janice has narrated with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra and is also known for her portrayals of historical African American women such as Harriett Tubman, Rosa Parks, Phillis Wheatley and more. Her original healing stories and poems have been inspirational to many. Mrs. Greene lives in Windsor Mill, Maryland with her husband of 48 years.
Fendrick & Peck (Madeline Fendrick and Brian Peck) are adventurous and curious people who have put together their own variety show of songs, poems, and stories. Their music, though familiar and comforting in sound, is noted for its exquisite harmony, lyrics, and composition with a certain raw imperfection that helps you feel at ease in the world for a little while. Their lyrical content centers on the rebellious messages growing in opposition to our cultural narrative; perhaps the answers we seek actually are in peace in wildness, accepting our authentic selves, and love of the finest kind.
Brother Timothy is a Singer, Songwriter and Storyteller for the expansion of fierce Compassion. He has been writing songs for more that three decades and is primarily interested in harmony and opening
the human heart. Brother Timothy believes many more of us CAN sing than DO sing... and he has learned that people who do not consider themselves "singers" can sing beautifully together.
"Story Sapiens call me Timeless and, like most of our kind, I eat stories to live and share stories to give. Suckled by the Place of Many Tongues, Bulbancha* to the Choctaw, La Louisiane to the French, I found a voice early on. Ever since, it has carried me over many lands, waters, and skies. Greetings!(*Present-day New Orleans is known as Bulbancha by it’s indigenous folk.)"
Dr. Tatiana Riabokin hails from the Ukrainian community of the Twin Cities and now calls the enchanted forests of northern Minnesota home. She has a wealth of knowledge about Ukrainian music, history and folklore as well as Ukrainian herbal healing traditions.
"I have been given a gift. I remember seeing my first Polish Pisanki at my Babcia's (Grandma's) home in NorthEast Minneapolis. I was completely mesmerized by their colors and symbols- a mystery that I wanted to pursue. Pisanki were the perfect marriage of history, tradition, culture of my Polish soul. It has evoked comfort and value to something crafted by hand with a spirit and pride handed down from aged hands to the young. Pisanki are the bridges that connect culture and tradition living in the US with a Polish heart."
Dan Turpening has been entertaining people of the Twin Cities region for over 2 decades. He is an accomplished accordionist and accordion repair person based out of Minneapolis. He has played weddings, parties, and puppet shows for countless people. He has a shop where he repairs and gives lessons to the next generation of accordionists.
Frank Escamilla is a storyteller at heart and it is this gift that taught him the power of his voice. Born and raised in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, Frank had to navigate through many challenging obstacles to survive. One of the practices he utilized the most was the ability to gather people with stories. It allows him to connect with something ancient and magical and to share it with the world. Frank now offers his origin story to everyone filled with compassion and love.