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Baba Jamal Koram adds African perspective to Storytelling Live!

staff report • Jul 16, 2011 at 11:33 AM

Baba Jamal Koram, a renowned entertainer who specializes in African and African-American folk tales, will serve as the next teller in residence for the International Storytelling Center’s popular Storytelling Live! series.Raised with an appreciation for a story well-told, Koram started learning his craft at an early age. “Whenever there was a gathering, there was always talking and laughter and stories and joking,” he said. “I was like the fly on the wall, the little 5- or 6-year-old boy listening to the grown folks’ party when I should have been asleep. Between the stories that I heard in conversation and at family gatherings, I developed a sensitivity for language, and also for what it took to make people smile and laugh.”Today, he specializes in African and African-American folk tales — stories about lions and rabbits and alligators — through which he weaves threads of personal narrative.“The nature of a folk tale is to have universal appeal,” he says. “When I go up into the hills of West Virginia or the mountains of California, folks ask me what kind of stories I’m telling. I always say, ‘The same kind of stories I’m telling to the folks in the cities.’ No matter what you wrap the truth in, if you’re entertaining and thought-provoking, it will be a good experience. Folks are going to be drawn to it, no matter who they are or where they are.”Read the expanded version of this report in the print edition or the enhanced electronic version of the Kingsport Times-News.

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