GET TO KNOW OUR TELLERS FOR
THE 2019 ST. JOHN’S STORYTELLLING FESTIVAL!
Bios with photographs are currently being uploaded to this page. Full list of performers currently confirmed is below, followed by all bios currently available (names link to short bio found lower on this page).
Helen Fogwill Porter
Mary Lynn Bernard
Ted & Maureen Rowe
A stalwart of Newfoundland theatre for nearly fifty years, Andy Jones was born in St. John’s, where he was a co-founder of the Resource Centre for the Arts at the L.S.P.U. Hall, writing, co-writing, acting in, and directing many original productions (and fundraising and washing floors).
He has been a story teller since 1979 and been involved in a number of story-telling workshops, tours, and readings in the schools in Newfoundland and Labrador. He is well known across Canada as part of the comedy troupe CODCO, in both its theatrical and television incarnations. More recently, Jones has been adapting Newfoundland folktales as children’s books.
Benjamin, age 12 years, has grown up in an artistic family, enjoying stories from a young age. He enjoys nature, fencing classes, saxophone, working with clay, and imaginative play. He has performed for several years at St John’s Storytelling Festival and looks forward to sharing another of his original tales at this year’s Botanical Gardens Story Walk.
Bernice Morgan was born in pre-Confederation Newfoundland.
She worked for many years in public relations, first with Memorial University of Newfoundland, and later with Newfoundland Teachers’ Association. Many of her short stories have been published in small magazines, anthologies and school textbooks. She is author of the acclaimed novel Random Passage, which was filmed as a four-part television series, and its award-winning sequel Waiting for Time. Her other work includes the collection of short stories, The Topography of Love, and the novel Cloud of Bone.
(bio from Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides)
Cassandra is an amazing young girl who is full of life. She performs with Shallaway and is currently in three types of dance. Although she enjoys these activities very much, she has found a new passion. Storytelling.
Newly breaking into this field she has performed with her dad Harry Ingram at the NL Folk festival in Bannerman park to a great response. She hopes to continue to entertain for many years to come.
Catherine Wright grew up in Newfoundland in a creative family where self expression was encouraged. From an early age, she made up stories with her teddies, toys, rocks or anything that was to hand.
Catherine continues to embrace playfulness, creative exploration and discovery in her roles as mother, arts educator, multidisciplinary performer, creator of silk works. Her telling of folk and fairy tales, personal stories and original tales are often interwoven with movement and song.
Catherine has presented at many venues and events for audiences from preschoolers to seniors. She is currently President of St John’s Storytelling Festival Inc and provincial representative for Storytellers of Canada (SC-CC).
Chris Brookes is an author, storyteller and independent audio producer who has crafted audio documentaries professionally for three decades. They have won over forty international awards including the Peabody Award and the Prix Italia, and have been broadcast around the world. He has been named an International Audio Luminary by the 3rd Coast International Audio Festival, is inducted to the Newfoundland & Labrador Arts Hall of Fame, holds an honorary doctorate from Memorial University of Newfoundland, and is a recipient of the Order of Canada.
Currently he creates smartphone apps which place stories into the landscape of Newfoundland communities. He is obsessed with narrative, and keeps telling stories in hopes of someday getting them right.
Christina Smith researches, collects, publishes, teaches and performs traditional fiddle music. She learned the music directly from older generations of Newfoundland and Labrador musicians such as Rufus Guinchard, Emile Benoit, Belle Fennelly and Frank Maher, and the melodies they gave to her came wrapped up in stories. She and Jean Hewson have played as a duo since 1982, introducing audiences in North America and the British Isles to Newfoundland ballads, tunes and stories.
For over 20 years Dave Penny has been performing around St. John’s and beyond, and in that time has written several comedy songs such as Johnny Chrome and A Townie Courted a Bayman’s Daughter, about wacky topics like a cyclist feuding with an oversized pickup truck, a shortage of mustard pickles and owning a Chip Wagon stand. He has performed in many Newfoundland and Labrador towns and festivals, the Meriposa Folk Festival in Ontario, and parts of New England.
Dennis Flynn is a freelance writer/photographer and a storyteller from Colliers, Conception Bay, Newfoundland Labrador, Canada. He is the author of two books and over 170 published articles.
In 2003 Dennis received a National Writing Award of Excellence from the Canadian Community Newspapers Association. His photographs and articles have featured in various books, magazines, newspapers, websites, and other publications. As well his images have been selected for many art shows, exhibitions, museums, and cultural tourism displays.
Derrick was born in St. Johns Newfoundland and moved to his present hometown of Torbay as a teenager in the early 70’s. He remembers as a teenager hanging out at his future in laws as they would host parties full of traditional Irish and Newfoundland music and dancing and how this influenced his love of all things traditional. It wasn’t until his wife Patsy got tired watching him play air guitar and bought him his first real guitar at the age of 45 that he immersed himself in learning to play and sing.
Derrick is chairperson and a founding member of the Torbay Folk Arts Council, as well as a member of the Torbay Folk Group, and the Killick Folk. After watching his good friend Gary Green tell his stories he decided to take part in a storytelling workshop and is hooked. He told his first story as part of the workshop and is now excited to be part of the storytellers circle.
Singer-songwriter originally from Makkovik, Labrador, Nunatsiavut, Gary now lives in Kelligrews, CBS. He is an Indigenous person of Inuit ancestry and has been part of the Labrador music scene for many years, performing on a regular basis for various events and festivals. Gary is at times accompanied by one or two of his daughters Jennifer and Raylene on the accordion and guitar respectively. Reflected in his traditional music is great advocacy for his Indigenous culture and heritage.
Gary was recognized in 2010 with the Fine Arts Award by the Town of Happy-Valley-Goose Bay for his musical contribution and volunteer time performing at various functions in the area. He has two albums of his Labrador songs out with the most recent being duos with his daughter “Finding Our Way back Home” which includes some of his original compositions, as well as jigs and reels.
Gerry Strong is from Little Bay Islands, Notre Dame Bay and grew up between there and nearby Little Bay. In the 1970s Gerry became part of the renewal of interest in the folk and traditional music of Newfoundland and Labrador and subsequently became a founding member of the award-winning group Tickle Harbour. Gerry travelled throughout Canada and the US while playing with Tickle Harbour, and through Ireland, England and Australia with A Crowd of Bold Sharemen.
Retirement from his job as an X-ray technologist at the Carbonear General Hospital has left him more time to pursue his love of music, sitting in on as many sessions as he can and performing solo or with What Odds, Cotillion and A Crowd of Bold Sharemen. In November of 2017 Gerry was awarded the Slaight Music Unsung Hero award by the Canadian Folk Music Association for his contributions to the Canadian folk music scene.
Grace Okwera is an ESL teacher at the Association for New Canadians, in St. John’s, NL. Grace grew up mostly in the Northern Uganda where her parents and grandparents lived most of their lives. Grace considers herself blessed to grow up with all of her grandparents, both maternal and paternal, as it left her with such fond memories of childhood. Some daring adventures harvesting honey, survival skills, and most of all a true appreciation of her people, the Acholi. The Acholi are a proud, pleasant, and friendly people.
Grace recalls nights after the harvest seasons with a large circle of family members sitting around a fire place in the middle of the compound, listening to many tales. Her grandfather loved to tell stories of his hunting escapades, lineage, and history. Her grandmother often shared folk tales. History then was passed down by word of mouth, and story-time was entertainment and a learning time.
Recitations have always been a core element of Harry’s upbringing. He primarily performs his own original material which tends to focus on the funny side of everyday life. Harry also places great importance on keeping alive the works of those who have gone before him such as Leo O’Brien, John Joe English and Baxter Wareham .He’s also known to appear alongside Dave Paddon, Dave Penny, and Hubert Furey as part of the popular “From Stage to Stage” recitation group.
Helen Fogwill Porter is a monumental Newfoundland author and activist. Her writing career began in earnest in 1972 with articles, reviews, short stories and poetry, and journeyed on into the publication of several novels. She is a founding member of Newfoundland Status of Women Council, and the recipient of countless awards including NL Arts Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award, Honorary Doctor of Letters, and is an Order of Canada inductee. Her most recent publication is Full Circle, a collection of poetry from Breakwater Books.
Singer/guitarist Jean Hewson has been collecting and performing the traditional songs and tunes of Newfoundland and Labrador for more than thirty years. Highly regarded for her abilities as a traditional singer, arranger and accompanist, she has worked with many of the province’s leading traditional musicians. Jean is currently a member of several bands including: Christina Smith and Jean Hewson, The Mahers Bahers, Lomond Sound, and What Odds. Her albums with Smith, Like Ducks! and August Gale, were nominated for East Coast Music Awards in the Roots/Traditional Group of the Year category. In 2005, Jean was nominated for Traditional Singer of the Year at the Canadian Folk Music Awards, and in 2010 she and Smith received the Tradition Bearer Award from the Goderich Celtic Roots Festival in recognition of their outstanding work in preserving and passing on the song and instrumental traditions of Newfoundland and Labrador.
Karen Carroll was born and raised in Carbonear, on the north shore of Conception Bay. She enjoys writing and performing recitations and stories, usually in some kind of costume. A retired Registered Nurse, Karen lives in Logy Bay with her husband and her Newfoundland dog. She is a proud mother and grandmother.
Ken Parsons loves Newfoundland Labrador and it shows in his recitations. Spending summers growing up in Bonavista Bay he has created “Raisin Arm”, an imaginary Newfoundland Labrador community full of “heart warming stories” and “all kinds of foolishness”. The everyday joys and fun of local culture are always “just down the Arm” and as an accomplished magician you’re sure to see Ken pull a trick or two out of his sleeve during his stories.
Lillian Bouzane is an acclaimed novelist, short story writer, poet, and essayist.
Her novel In the Hands of the Living God was published by Turnstone Press, Winnipeg, and was Long Listed for the IMPACT prize. Her suite of poems on the Mount Cashel crimes, “In the Time of Wolves”, was dramatized by CBC radio and aired nationally and provincially. It won the international award -The Gabriel, the New York Festivals bronze medal award and was nominated by CBC Radio for The Peabody Award.
Her essay “Making the Mount Cashel Poems” won First Prize in the Provincial Arts and letters Competition. Her poetry and short stories have been anthologised both nationally and internationally.
(bio copied and edited from the Writers Alliance of NL)
Marnie Parsons is a printer and publisher and freelance editor. As owner of Running the Goat, Books & Broadsides, she has had the pleasure of helping some wonderful stories find new readers and listeners. She lives and works in Tors Cove.
The winner of the 2017 Newfoundland and Labrador Arts Council Rhonda Payne Award, Mary-Lynn Bernard has, besides her recent work as a puppeteer in the many Newfoundland and Canadian tours and performances of Queen Of Paradise’s Garden, (including the Banff Centre and The National Arts Centre), acted in and produced many works in theatre and film in Newfoundland and Labrador throughout the past 30 years.
Randy Crane is a singer, songwriter, actor and storyteller. He writes and performs much of his own material. He is a regular performer in the Southern Shore Folk Arts dinner theatre. This summer he performs weekly as Paddy “Iron” McCarthy in a stage play he has adapted. He can be seen presenting monthly at the Song Circle and the Storytelling Circle.
Sage Tyrtle is a professional storyteller who tells stories all over the world (most recently in India). She has taught The Art of Storytelling at Second City and Seneca College. Her stories have been featured on NPR and CBC radio. She is a Moth StorySlam winner.
Sharon King-Campbell is a storyteller, actor, director and writer based in St. John’s. She was the winner of the Storytellers of Canada Youth Scholarship in 2010. She’s been a featured teller in the St. John’s Storytelling Festivals for the last three years, and has told across Newfoundland, in Ontario and Victoria, and in Wellington, NZ. Theatre-going audiences in town might recognize her from Original (PerSIStence Theatre/skc originals), Women Playing Hamlet (PerSIStence), Brazil Square (Girl Power), Fuddy Meers (Best Kind), Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita (TaDa!), or Billy Elliot (Atlantic Light).
Shayna Jones, founder of We Are StoryFolk , is a professionally trained and passionate performing artist. With professional credits as an actor, singer, and dancer, she imbues her work as a Storyteller with craftsmanship, and precision. She trained at Trinity Western University (Langley, BC), apprenticed with Pacific Theatre (Vancouver), and has performed with the Arts Club Theatre Company, Stone’s Throw Productions, and the University of British Columbia to name a few. She has honed her skills working with acting and vocal coaches, performance workshops, and hours of dance instruction of various forms. As a Storyteller, her performance credits include regional festivals; regional library districts; elementary schools; highschools, community events, summer camps, private functions , and more!
Originally from Labrador, and having resided in Norris Point/Gros Morne for most of her life, it is no wonder that Shirley’s writings are filled with nature’s imagery. Through recordings and performances, she has reached into the hearts and homes of many. Her songs are stories in and of themselves. Her song introductions take the audience on a path of musical adventure that includes culture, history, landscape and more.
Shirley is the founder of the annual Trails Tales Tunes Festival and she continues to be very involved in the growing arts and culture scene in the Gros Morne region. She still makes time for performing, and particularly enjoys making music with others.
Sophie Angnatok and Tabitha Blake have been performing together since 2007. Sophie is originally from Nain Nunatsiavut and Tabitha is originally from Rigolet Nunatsiavut and they both now reside here in St. John’s, NL. They have performed for diverse audiences both locally and across the country. Their most memorable performance would have to be the Apology for Labradorimut from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the truth and reconciliation where they got to showcase their Inuit culture in various forms such as Inuit Drumming and the ancient Inuit art of throat singing as well as singing in their native tongue Inuktitut.
Ted and Maureen Rowe have been singing together for over 50 years. They enjoy entertaining at private parties, fundraisers and benefits with a mix of folk, country and pop songs from the 1950s and ‘60s.