2018 National Storytellers
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.
Charlotte Blake Alston
Charlotte Blake Alston performs in venues throughout North America and abroad. She breathes life into traditional and contemporary stories from African and African American oral and cultural traditions. Her solo performances are often enhanced with traditional instruments such as djembe, mbira, shekere or the 21-stringed kora. She brings her stories and songs to national and regional festivals, schools, universities, museums, libraries and performing arts centers throughout the United States and Canada, as well as local and national radio and television. Her repertoire is wide and programs are adapted to any grade level or age group.
Ms. Alston has been a featured narrator for several orchestras and conductors including The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Orchestra of St. Luke’s, The Cleveland Orchestra, the Saint Louis Symphony and the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. She represented Carnegie Hall in 2003 when she hosted a series of concerts in Miyazaki, Japan with the Eddie Arron String Quartet and fellow storyteller, Motoko. Currently, she performs as both pre-concert artist and host of Carnegie Hall’s Family and Education Concert Series.
Charlotte was one of four Americans selected to perform and present at the first International Storytelling Field Conference in Ghana and was a featured artist at the Second Int’l Festival in Cape Town, South Africa. In the summer of 2005, she was the sole American selected to perform on a main stage at the STIMMEN: Voices Festival in Basel, Switzerland and The Cape Clear Island Festival in Ireland. She was the Director of “In the Tradition…” the 14th National Festival of Black Storytelling. She is a recipient of the Zora Neale Hurston Award, the highest award bestowed by the National Association of Black Storytellers.
Andy Offut Irwin
With a silly putty voice, hilarious heart-filled stories, and amazing mouth noises (arguably, the greatest whistler in the world) one-person-showman, Andy Offutt Irwin, is equal parts mischievous schoolboy and the Marx Brothers, peppered with a touch of the Southern balladeer. One of the most sought after performing storytellers in the United States, Andy is especially known for relating the adventures of his eighty-five-year-old-widowed-newly-minted-physician-aunt, Marguerite Van Camp, a woman who avoids curmudgeonship by keeping her finger on the pulse of the changing world around her as she seeks to grow – even at her advanced age – in the New South. Marguerite steps lively through this existence, loving as many people as she can.
October of 2015 marked Andy’s sixth year as a Featured Teller at the National Storytelling Festival. He has appeared ten times as Teller in Residence at International Storytelling Center. Among other gigs, Andy has been a Guest Artist at La Guardia High School of Art, Music, and Performing Arts in New York (The “FAME!” School); he has been a Keynote Speaker/Performer at the Library of Congress-Virburnum Foundation Conference on Family Literacy; a Guest Writer Performer with the Georgia Tech Glee Club; and a guest composer with the Amherst College Men’s Double Quartet.
Andy has held a few almost-real-jobs that include: Artist-In-Residence in Theatre at Emory University’s Oxford College from 1991 to 2007. (He continues serving at Oxford from time-to-time as Artist-in-Just-Passing-Through). A very long time ago Andy spent five years as a performer, writer, and director for SAK Theatre at Walt Disney World. Andy is the recipient of many awards, but he is tickled as can be to have received the Oracle 2013 Circle of Excellence from the National Storytelling Network.
Carolina Quiroga-Stultz is a Colombian Storyteller Performer, Social Communicator and Graphic Designer who graduated in 2013 with a Masters in Storytelling from the East Tennessee State University (ETSU). Her large repertoire of bilingual stories, explores the Native and Afro Latin American and Hispanic Myths, Legends and Mysteries ranging from El Río Bravo to La Patagonia. Her bilingual storytelling enchants her audiences with her compelling mannerisms and the passion she brings into each story.
On 2014, she was awarded “Outstanding Performer of the Year” by ETSU, and in December 2015 she became the recipient of the “J.J. RENEAUX EMERGING ARTIST GRANT” by the National Storytelling Network. On 2016 she became a Teacher Artist part of the Wolf Trap Institute for Early Learning through the Arts, a recognized national model for utilizing the performing arts to support young children’s cognitive, emotional, and physical development and school readiness.
She has performed in several regional festivals and Conferences in Texas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Kansas City, and also at numerous schools, libraries, universities and colleges to culturally and socially diverse audiences. To see all the venues Click Here. In March 2016, Carolina toured in Costa Rica with her shows: The Tatu’s Night and Las Animas (spooky tales). During the summer of 2016 Carolina was the featured storyteller at the Witte Museum for the Mayan Exhibition: Hidden Worlds Revealed. Early in 2017, Carolina brought all Maya Tales to the Storytelling Festival at the American School in Tampico, Mexico. Later in March, she was a featured tellers at the Tejas Storytelling Festival at Denton, TX.