Connie Regan-Blake is one of America’s most celebrated storytellers. She has captivated the hearts and imaginations of people around the globe with her powerful performances and workshops. Entertaining audiences in 47 states, 17 countries and 6 continents, Connie brings the wisdom, humor and drama of stories to main stage concert halls, libraries and into the corporate world.
Growing up in the American South, Connie’s family introduced her at an early age to the joy of telling and listening to stories. Sometimes at family gatherings, they would start telling tales at breakfast and find themselves still around the table at lunchtime.
After graduating from Loyola University in New Orleans, Connie took her hard earned wages from summer waitressing and bought a one-way ticket to Belgium. With only a backpack and her sense of adventure, she traveled throughout Europe for over a year.
Upon her return to America, Connie landed in Chattanooga, Tennessee. There, Barbara Freeman, Connie’s first cousin, opened the door to storytelling by way of a job at the Chattanooga Public Library. Connie’s role as the library’s storyteller was part of the system’s early childhood literacy program, M.O.R.E. (Making Our Reading Enjoyable).
In 1975, Connie and Barbara quit their beloved library jobs and hit the road in their yellow pickup truck. Under the name “The Folktellers,” the duo toured the country, thrilling audiences with performance storytelling. They developed the two-woman play, Mountain Sweet Talk, which holds the record as Asheville, NC’s longest running theatrical production to this day.
Throughout her trailblazing storytelling career, Connie helped to ignite and shape the American storytelling revival. She served as a founding board member of the National Storytelling Association (formerly NAPPS). Connie continues to be a frequent host and featured performer at the National Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee.
Connie’s involvement with the storytelling community led to her first meeting her dear friend and mentor, Ray Hicks. Ray is considered the “giant” of traditional, Appalachian storytelling, in particular “Jack tales”. To this day, Connie still tells stories which she first learned listening to Ray on his front porch. His stories and wisdom continue to have a great impact on Connie’s storytelling and life.
After a rich, flourishing partnership as The Folktellers, Connie and Barbara embarked on new journeys as solo performers. Over the years, Connie has continued to enjoy sharing the stage with other artists.
In 1995, the chamber music group “The Kandinsky Trio” invited Connie to perform together in a musical storytelling performance. What followed was an innovative work interweaving storytelling and classical music. Mike Reid composed their performance piece, Tales of Appalachia: Stories and Chamber Music. With more than 350 performances, their collaborative show has been hailed as “a new art form.”
Throughout her career, Connie’s rare talent has transformed convention halls into wondrous landscapes and turned packed theaters into intimate circles of friends. She has performed at the nation’s top folk music and storytelling festivals, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C., the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival in Orem, Utah, as well as the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. (It is Connie’s unique honor to be the only performer invited onstage for every NSF since its conception in 1973!)
Recently, the Library of Congress granted Connie the honor of an archival collection in her name. The U.S.’s national library now houses the Connie Regan-Blake collection, which consists of papers, sound recordings, videos, photographs and artifacts, documenting her 40+ year career and role in the birth of the American Storytelling Revival.
Connie & Bead for Life
Today, Connie continues to tour as a performer and workshop leader. She also offers a series of original workshops in Asheville, NC. These workshops challenge, encourage and teach participants how to find, develop and tell their stories. Connie also offers coaching options for those who are interested in working in a more intimate, personalized setting.
Connie resides with her husband Phil in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, NC. In her free time, she loves to enjoy the beauty of her flower garden, do modified Crossfit exercises, and create collages. She is a nature-watcher and frequently sights uninvited bears and bobcats around her mountain home.