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contact info for Kentucky Storytelling Association: P O Box 4148, Frankfort, KY 40604-4148  secretary@kystory.org

Directory of Storytellers

Below are storytellers who have chosen to advertise their talents on this web site. We hope you will consider them the next time you are looking for a storyteller. We recommend that other references be checked before committing to a contract with any performer. Fees may vary widely. Storytellers listed from further distances should be considered, as storytellers frequently travel to performances. Storytellers, to purchase/submit a listing, click here.

Nicole Breazeale
Ed Bryson
September Cardiff
Thomas Freese
W.I. "Bill" Hairston
Mary Hamilton
Mary Jo Huff
Ray Mendenhall
Jane Morse
Octavia Sexton
Anne Shelby
Don Smith
Paul Strickland

Photo of Nicole Breazeale Nicole Breazeale
Associate Professor of Community & Leadership Development
University of Kentucky
500 Garrigus, Lexington, KY 40546

Nicole Breazeale is an Associate Extension Professor at the University of Kentucky. In her Cooperative Extension programming, she is interested in how story can be used to foster community and organizational change. Feel free to reach out if you want to work on collaborations between storytellers, universities, and communities.

Photo of Ed Bryson Ed Bryson
205 Hillbrook Dr., Nicholasville, KY 40356

C. Edwin Bryson grew up in Brevard, North Carolina from where his family made frequent trips to the Bryson home place on the banks of the Tuckaseegee River that flows through Cullowhee and Bryson City. So nurtured was he by a rich spiritual heritage, he grew up to become an ordained minister. He lives now with his family near Lexington, Kentucky where he is an adjunct professor, writes, and tells stories. He is a member of the Kentucky Storytelling Association.

Photo of September Cardiff September Cardiff
249 W. Showalter Dr., Georgetown, KY 40324

Miss September and her amazing cast of puppets is an author, children's performer, storyteller, magician, ventriloquist, life coach, and motivational speaker who brings laughter and fun to any stage. She continually draws upon her education degree as she travels and performs as a children's edutainer performing with puppets, magic, and stories for schools, libraries, churches, and crowds everywhere. She has been performing for over 25 years throughout the South, motivating and entertaining folks and working with youth groups, clubs, and communities giving entertaining and hands on shows and workshops sharing her knowledge on loving yourself, drama, puppets, storytelling, and magic.

Photo of Thomas Freese Thomas Freese
2802 Floore Court, Louisville, KY 40299

Thomas Freese is a wonderful storyteller—author of nine books of ghost stories including Shaker Ghost Stories, Fog Swirler, Strange and Wonderful Things, Ghosts, Spirits and Angels, and Haunted Battlefields of the South. He entertains with animated voice and movement, performing for children and adults. He has performed from Ashland to Argentina. Thomas plays guitar, harmonica and other instruments, creating songs and telling a variety of story programs in English or Spanish--Pourquois tales, origami stories, silly stories and songs, winter tales, ghosts, desert southwest, fairy tales and folk stories. Pick any of his 20 educational and entertaining story programs!

Photo of W.I. W.I. "Bill" Hairston
P.O. Box 4466, Charleston, WV 25364

Among his many endeavors is his work as the Entertainment/Music Coordinator at the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee for 35 years. His stories and songs embody the rich Appalachian culture that he was exposed to as a child along the Coal River in West Virginia. He has been the moderator of the West Virginia Liar’s Contest for several years. Within his interpretations, he frequently weaves the contributions of African Americans to Appalachian history and culture. He has performed in schools, libraries and other venues throughout the region. Bill developed the elementary school program, “We Are One.”

Photo of Mary Hamilton Mary Hamilton
65 Springhill Road, Frankfort, KY 40601-9211

Mary grew up on a Kentucky farm where "telling stories" was considered sinful, but conversations that flowed from one story to another were how everyone talked. Audiences from Florida to Alaska – students in schools, families in libraries, adults in theaters – have enjoyed her "just talking" storytelling style. Her professional colleagues in the National Storytelling Network presented her with a Circle of Excellence ORACLE award. Kentucky's school librarians honored her work with a Jesse Stuart Media Award. University Press of Kentucky published Kentucky Folktales, her award-winning book. See videos of her storytelling on her website. She'd love to tell for you!

Photo of Mary Jo Huff Mary Jo Huff
4333 Sandra Kay Lane, Newburgh, IN 47630
812-853-3024 800-213-0527

Mary Jo Huff is an Early Childhood consultant, published author, storyteller and recording artist who is recognized nationally for her wit, humor, and storytelling talents. "Storytelling with Puppets, Props, and Playful Tales" received the coveted Pegasus award from the National Youth Storytelling Network and a Parent's Choice Award.

Photo of Ray Mendenhall Ray Mendenhall
101 Locust Grove Lane, Versailles, KY 40438

Ray Mendenhall comes from a family of storytellers. Humorous stories and family anecdotes filled his childhood and youth. For 20 years now, Ray has been telling professionally in venues across North and South Carolina and Kentucky. Following the "jolly man" tradition, he mixes amazing songs and whimsical stories into a celebration of the storytelling art. His infectious humor and easy style has engaged audiences in Festivals, schools, libraries, conferences, civic clubs and State Fairs. He has won medals for musical performance in the NC Senior Silver Arts Competition, several storytelling contests and the Bold-faced Liars Showdown in Laurinburg, NC.

Photo of Jane Morse Jane Morse
1124 5th Ave., Huntington, WV 25701

Jane Morse has the proud distinction of being a coal miner’s daughter, a farmer’s daughter, and a school marm’s daughter. Jane has told her stories from San Francisco to Belfast, Northern Ireland. A product of Chesapeake, OH schools, she holds an AB and MA in History from Marshall University. She has taught briefly at Marshall and at Ohio University. Most of her time has been taken up with family, tending sheep on a farm in Ohio, professional storytelling, and church work. In her spare time, she performed in community theater.

Jane was employed as church hostess to “feed the hungry Methodists” for 22 years. Jane and her husband, Jerry, have taught the 4-5 year old Sunday School for 45 years. Also, Jane and Jerry are the founders and producers of First Church Dinner Theater which has raised over $65,000 for Mission over the past 28 years.

Octavia Sexton Octavia Sexton
874 Big Cave Road, Orlando, KY 40460-9700

A native of eastern Kentucky, Octavia grew up in a rich tradition of storytelling. Her genuine Appalachian dialect and love for her Kentucky Mountains are the magic that brings her stories to life. She is a master storyteller and experienced teaching artist. Literary great Loyal Jones says, "Octavia is one of our few, true folk artists and her performances are authentic representations of the tradition from which she comes." Her stories carry the listener into the mountains of eastern Kentucky - where haints chill your blood, Jack tickles your funny bone, and the hills and hollers are full of surprises.

Anne Shelby Anne Shelby
15705 North Hwy 11, Oneida, KY 40972-6242

Anne Shelby specializes in traditional Appalachian folk tales retold for contemporary audiences. Cast in the language she heard growing up in Southeastern Kentucky, Shelby's stories are plumb slam chuck full of Appalachian speech, history, and humor. A Kentucky Arts Council Master Storyteller, Shelby performs for schools, libraries, conferences, and festivals. Her books for children and adults include The Man Who Lived in a Hollow Tree, based on a legend passed down in her family, and The Adventures of Molly Whuppie and Other Appalachian Folktales, an American Folklore Society Aesop Accolade winner. She lives at her family homeplace in Clay County.

Photo of Don Ray Smith Don Ray Smith
9014 Hurstbourne Ln., Louisville, KY 40220
(502) 499-5664 or (502) 297-7929

Louisville native Don Ray Smith deals in contemporary humor, usually with adult (not dirty!) messages, from love to diversity to bust-out laughing parody and satire. He's performed at Spin-A-Yarn festival and various coffee houses in Louisville, at storytelling festivals in Hazard and elsewhere, and will be featured at a writers' retreat in Owensboro in early 2017. At times he livens up his stories with a mean pair of bongos. Don Ray can entertain your organization, book club, creative writing class or festival as he shows how he has "morphed" from journalist and humor writer to a humor "teller!"

Photo of Paul Strickland Paul Strickland
837 Greer St. Apt 5, Covington, KY 41011
(615) 969-7870

"An hour spent with master storyteller Paul Strickland is an hour well spent, and one you should not miss.” – Cincinnati Enquirer. Paul’s heartfelt and hilarious tall-tales and songs have been performed in virtually every imaginable environment, from Off-Broadway to elementary and middle schools, corporate events and even two prisons - where he was NOT an inmate at the time. Paul was an Exchange Place Teller at the National Storytelling Festival in 2018, and is a Featured Teller at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in 2020. Selections from his comedy performance “Levels of Difficulty” can be heard every day on SiriusXM radio.

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