2017 Featured Tellers

wichita GraphicsThe 35th “In the Tradition...” 
Annual National Black Storytelling
Festival and Conference

“The African American Story: From Chains to Wings”
        November 8-12, 2017






  Jeremie Meadows


Jeremie Meadows, our 2017 Youth Featured Teller is a member of Atlanta’s KUUMBA Storytellers of Georgia’s youth group, The Tattle Tales. A high school senior, Jeremie is a gifted drummer and storyteller, a member of the school band and participates in the martial arts. Jeremie received the Baba Jamal Harambee National Association of Black Storytellers’ Youth Award at the 32nd “In the Tradition…” NABS’ Festival and was the 3rd place winner in the famed Jackie Torrence Tall Tales contest at the 34th “In the Tradition…” NABS’ Festival.


  Kunama Mtendaji


Kunama Mtendaji, a native of Missouri, is an African American folk artist who specializes in performing and teaching storytelling, music and dance.Kunama focuses on drumming and dance styles from Senegal, The Gambia, Guinea and Ivory Coast. Kunama was highly influenced by the renowned dancer, anthropologist and writer Katherine Dunham. Initially he trained at the Katherine Dunham Perform- ing Arts Training Center at the University of Illinois as a drummer and eventually became a staff drummer. He later enrolled as a student and was introduced to and trained in the folklore of the Afro-Brazilian martial art,capoeira, and stories of Afro-Brazilian settlements.





TAHIRA, a full-time performing artist, boldly blurs the lines between storyteller, singer/songwriter and spoken word artist. Her multiple talents enables TAHIRA to deliver a unique performance that includes a heapin’ of the moving stories, a fistful of soul-stirring vocals, flavored with rhythmic guitar and sprinkled with drumming for good measure. TAHIRA has a B.A. from Temple University’s School of Communication and Theatre and is a Delaware Division of the Arts Established Professional Fellow in Folk Art: Oral Literature. She represented NABS at PANAFEST in Ghana, West Africa where she performed in four cities. She is an advocate of using the arts to bring about social change. “My mission as an artist is to shed light in dark places to reveal the brilliance of the human spirit”. TAHIRA currently serves as a Co-Director of the NABS’ Affiliate Program and is a former President of Keepers of the Culture, Inc.



 Oba William King




 Oba William King, storyteller and poet made his debut with the National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. at the “In the Tradition…” conference in 2006. Oba ignites audiences with his ability to capture their attention and gently releases them into the playful realm of rhythm and rhyme. Known as the Poetic Storyteller, Oba’s most significant influence in the art of storytelling came as a result of his sojourn to Benin, West Africa. Oba is an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship Award Recipient in Traditional Folk Arts, Jewel/Osco Hidden Jewel of the Neighborhood, Gwendolyn Brooks Hands on Stanza’s award recipient and a Dr. Margaret Burroughs “TORCH” Bearer. He is a winner of the NABS’ Jackie Torrence Tall Tales Contest and a dedicated supporter of NABS’ Youth. Oba is recognized as one of the most exciting storytellers of his peer group and shares the traditional art form as if it is a sacred gift.



  Nothando Zulu 



Nothando Zulu is a master storyteller who has been sharing stories with audiences since 1976. She has entertained, motivated and inspired thousands with her lively and unique storytelling style. Nothando’s skill and technique as a storyteller becomes a Master class in storytelling as she artfully weaves a story that creates a bond with the audience. She draws from an extensive resource of colorful, funny characters from African and African American folklore, whose antics and pranks leave audiences pondering their own life’s lessons. She is the President and Director of Black Storytellers Alliance in Minneapolis,MN. Nothando and her husband, Vusumusi, with the help of their Board of Directors has produced a three-day storytelling festival “Signifyin’&Testifyin’” for the past 23 years. Listen closely as she tells stories from the gone days and the now days, stories of family and friends, of small towns and community and Ms. Choomby… what? You don’t know Ms. Choomby? You better ask Nothando!





 Tejumola Ologboni



Teju the Storyteller is a storyteller, folklorist and oral historian. He is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and was awarded a Federal Foreign Language Fellowship to study African languages at Indiana University-Bloomington. He is a leading authority on African spirituality and African culture. As an educator, he taught African and African American Literature, Creative Writing and English in the Africology Department at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Teju has appeared in movies and videos including “African Story Magic’ and “Tallow Glee and the Golden Key”. His show-stopping performances have earned him the distinction of being a repeated featured teller at storytelling festivals throughout the country. Teju has performed in elementary, middle and high schools, colleges, churches, supper clubs, taverns, theatres, prisons, juvenile detention centers, street corners, conventions, corporate lunches, holiday celebrations, parties, libraries, boys’ and girls’ clubs and several other places. He was the first place winner of the first National Association of Black Storytellers, Inc. Tall Tales Contest (Liars’ Contest) in Chicago (1986). In 2002 he was the recipient of the most prestigious award in storytelling, the Zora Neale Hurston Award for “contributing to the perpetuation and preservation of African American Folklore”. If asked, “What would you say is your greatest attribute as a storyteller?” His reply would be “You got an audience? I got a story.” This is Teju the Storyteller.  




 Andre Keitt Greatheart 






“It’s in my blood…” says Andre Keitt Greatheart Griot, a native of Orangeburg, South Carolina, now residing in Connecticut, excelled in the cultural arts at an early age. Inspired by the storytelling of his grandmother, Martha Greatheart Thompson, “Mama Thompson”, Andre has a lore of tales that he will envision forever. He has a B.A. in English from South Carolina State University. For ten years he was one of the host/producers of “Black Perspective” an Emmy award winning public affairs television show aired on WVIT, an NBC affiliate in Connecticut. Some of the subjects broached on this program were: African Folklore, The Spirit of the Native American, Music of the Black Church, and Holiday Traditions. He is a member of the Black Caucus of the American Library Association (ALA) and has performed at library conferences in Columbus, OH, Milwaukee, WI and Winston-Salem, NC. Andre is delighted to be a teaching artist and literacy activity leader for students in Greater Hartford and surrounding regions for the following arts and humanities institutions: Hartford Stage Company, The Bushnell Memorial, Connecticut Humanities Council and Readers As Leaders, CT. He has also performed with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra.

red and gold festival arrow   2017 Festival Highlights    Hotel  General Information   Schedule at A Glance   Featured Tellers
                             Souvenir Journal  Community Outreach     Full Fest' Flyer