Morrisville, NC – One of Morrisville’s newest residents is sure to enrich the local community with her storytelling talents. As proof, she recently received the National Storytelling Network’s highest honor and is set to receive another top award later this year.
Bring People Into The Story
Linda Gorham has told stories all around the world; across the United States and in Egypt, South Africa and Greece. And in late July, Gorham was presented with the National Storytelling Network’s highest honor, the NSN Oracle Distinguished National Service Award, for working to further the National Storytelling Network nationwide.
“When I started, the storytelling community was very supportive. Everything I did as a storyteller, I did not do in a vacuum,” Gorham said. “I felt an obligation to give something back. It’s part of me to want to give back.”
For more than 20 years, Gorham has worked for the art of storytelling, organizing events and workshops as well as teaching storytelling methods. She is also one of the founding members of the The Chicago Association of Black Storytellers and is the only person to ever co-chair both the National Storytelling Network Conference and the National Black Storytelling Festival and Conference.
Clearly, Gorham has a passion for storytelling.
“I see it first as entertainment. You make people laugh and they remember something from their life and family,” Gorham said. “I’m not just telling you a story. I’m inviting you into it.”
Gorham came to Morrisville three months ago when her husband retired and, through research, found it to be one of the best areas to retire. Gorham herself has no plans to retire anytime soon but said she loves the local area, which is especially rich for her area of expertise.
“The Southeast area is huge for storytellers,” Gorham said. “In the South, story comes from the porch. People sat around and shared stories about families and morals.”
Some of those famous stories are the “Br’er Rabbit” tales, likely best known as the rabbit who asked not to be thrown into the brier patch when he wanted to escape. But Gorham said those stories were originally about Anansi the Spider, a West African folk hero who similarly used his wits to outsmart animals and gods.
“When I tell those Br’er Rabbit stories, I tell them with Anansi,” she said.
In addition to her award from the National Storytelling Network, Gorham will receive the highest honor from the National Association of Black Storytellers, the Linda Jenkins Brown Nia Award for Service, in November.
To hear some of Gorham’s stories, you can find her award-winning CDs on her website, full of stories both about her family and her telling of cultural folktales.
Story by Michael Papich. Photos courtesy of Linda Gorham.