2017 National Storytellers

Antonio Sacre

Antonio Sacre, born in Boston to a Cuban father and Irish-American mother, is an internationally touring bilingual storyteller, author, and solo performance artist, based in Los Angeles. He has performed at the National Book Festival at the Library of Congress, the Kennedy Center, the National Storytelling Festival, and museums, schools, libraries, and festivals internationally. Called "a charismatic, empathetic presence" by Chicago Tribune, his stories have appeared in numerous magazines, journals, and on National Public Radio.

His storytelling recordings have won numerous awards, including the American Library Association's Notable Recipient Award, the Parent's Choice Gold and Silver Awards, and the National Association of Parenting Publications Gold Award. He was awarded an Ethnic and Folk Arts Fellowship from the Illinois Arts Council.

Since 1994, he has led many teacher in-services and district-wide trainings, sharing his knowledge of drama, storytelling, and writing in student workshops nationwide. Committed to nurturing, teaching, and performing for children of all ages, he is currently touring Los Angeles public schools and communities, where Antonio does Storytelling Assemblies, Family Literacy Nights, and Writing Workshops, to help children discover and embrace their own multicultural backgrounds. "I actually stopped speaking Spanish for a few years, and I would try hard to hide my cultural identity. Luckily for me, my Cuban grandmother fought hard to make sure I spoke Spanish again and to instill in me a feeling of pride about the wonderful mix of cultures that came together to shape who I am," said Antonio about the importance of his community work. 

 

Kim Weitkamp

As the redheaded child of exhausted parents, Kim grew up enjoying the roleof the middle child.  Allowed to roam free in the heart of Amish Country, her imagination wasripened by a life lived outdoors.  Now she enjoys the role of being one of the most sought afterstorytellers and speakers in the country.One reviewer stated, “Kim is a master at seamlessly building bridges from story, to song, to story.Like all good storytellers she evokes both laughter and tears, but her smooth silky voice,impeccable timing, and dead-on anticipation of her listeners’ needs place her at the pinnacle of her craft.” In her work as a humorist, storyteller, singer and songwriter, she has taken home a full armloadof awards and recognitions.  She has worked on and created successful peace projects includingthe Peace by Piece Project in collaboration with the Taubman Museum of Fine Arts.Kim currently has 8 audio collections, the latest two being, A Wandering Mind, a recent 2015Storytelling Award Winner and a folk operetta, The Ballad of Ronnie Calloway, which wasrecorded live in front of 800 people at the National Storytelling Festival. It has received highpraise from the world of storytelling and from the Folk/Americana music world.  The Oregonian stated, ‘Kim studs her storytelling performances with bits of musical Americanathat match the sweet and gentle tones of her narrative".  Her material is played regularly on NPRaffiliate stations and on SiriusXM Radio.  Kim travels the continent full time performing attheaters and at festivals. She has made numerous television appearances, hosted a successfulmorning show and has keynoted for some of Forbes most recognized companies and highprofile national non-profits.

 

Bil Lepp

Growing up in a family where the truth was fluid, Bil Lepp became adept at spinning tales and exaggerating circumstances at an early age. A nationally renowned storyteller and five time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, Bil’s outrageous, humorous tall-tales and witty stories have earned the appreciation of listeners of all ages and from all walks of life. Though a champion liar, his stories often contain morsels of truth which shed light on universal themes. Be it a hunting trip, a funeral, or a visit to the dentist, Bil can find the humor in any situation. Lepp explains that while his stories may not be completely true, they are always honest. “…Lepp, a cross between Dr. Seuss and…film noir....” -Charleston Gazette Bil is the author of six books and sixteen audio collections. His first children’s book, The King of Little Things, won the PEN Steven Kroll Award for Picture Book Writing, received a Kirkus Starred review, and favorable reviews from The Wall Street Journal, Publishers Weekly, The School Library Journal and other publications. It also won the Zena Sutherland Award, the Parent’s Choice Gold Award, was a finalist for the Irma Black Award, and was chosen to be West Virginia's book at the National Book Festival. A storyteller, author, and recording artist, Lepp’s works have received awards and recognition from The Parents’ Choice Foundation, The National Parenting Publications Assoc., and the Public Library Assoc. In 2011, Bil was awarded the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Award. Lepp has been featured 15 times at the National Storytelling Festival, and performed at major storytelling festivals, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and at corporate events and functions across the country. He performed at Comedy Central’s Stage on Hudson in Los Angeles, CA. Bil lives in Charleston, WV with his wife and two children.

 

Sam Payne

“Sam Payne – totally crushing it. Incredible. Amazing work,” says international storyteller Antonio Sacre of Sam Payne’s stage show. Payne's arresting stage presence, craftsmanship, and his soaring tenor voice have established him as favorite with audiences and critics alike. Payne has brought his stories and songs to halls in Canada, Bulgaria, Tokyo, and from coast to coast in the United States. He's been featured at festivals large and small, including the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and the Weber Storytelling Festival. Sam also hosts "The Apple Seed: Tellers and Stories," a daily national radio show on the art of storytelling for BYU radio.

"The Gift of the Tongue. You've got it, my friend. In Spades. Astonishing."
--International Storyteller Clare Murphy

"Original, over-the-top creative, genius. Let's be honest, genius. Totally different league from anyone around that I've seen as far as artistry."
--Entertainer Jason Hewlett

“Let's talk about storytelling: Sam Payne is a master at it.”
--Carma Wadley, Deseret News

"Listening to the lyrics--that song about his grandfather; Holy Cow! Some of the best lyrics I've ever heard."
--Glenn Beck, the Glenn Beck Program

"He's one of the best in his field … the consummate performer. The connection he makes with people onstage or in person is a rare thing that many artists don't have the ability to do."
--Earl Madsen, Sounds of Zion

"Payne delivers his riveting folktales with passion, emotionally stirring hooks, and an almost supernatural ability to tell a story."
--Kevin Jones, "The Independent" magazine

 

Omar and Lori Hansen

Omar and Lori Hansen, a husband and wife tandem storytelling team, are each artists in their own right.  Omar is an award winning playwright, and songwriter.  Just last year he took his play “Bielzy and Gottfried” to the Midtown International Theatre Festival, where it was nominated for multiple awards.  He is an actor, with many film and television credits.  Lori works as the primary director for their company, the Great Bear Folk Theatre, as well as an actor.  She won the award last year at MITF for best actress in a supporting role, and was also a featured performer at the United Solo Festival in NY with her one-woman storytelling show “Becoming an Honorary Crone.” When Omar and Lori join forces, the result is great family theatre.  As a storytelling duo, they have performed at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival, at the Forest Storytelling Festival, here at the Weber State University Storytelling Festival, the Cache Valley Storytelling Festival, and at the National Storytelling Festival as exchange place tellers in Jonesboro, TN.  They are happy to be back at Weber with old friends, and hope to make many new ones.