As I celebrate my 50th year and “Golden Jubilee Anniversary” as a storyteller, I invite you to browse some of my scrapbook photos below from my earlier days including hand written correspondence and Folkteller touring schedules along with photos of some favorite tellers in our younger years! October 1971, I was hired as a fulltime storyteller at the Chattanooga Public Library in East Tennessee – and that launched a lifetime of adventure, creative endeavors and a most unusual career!
I’d love to hear your memories about how we met, how storytelling has impacted your life, or perhaps a note about your favorite story. Please use the contact form below the photos to share with me. As Lisa Cron, author of “Story Genius” says, “ Story, as it turns out, was crucial to our evolution — more so than opposable thumbs. Opposable thumbs let us hang on; story told us what to hang on to. ”
Thank you for “hanging on” with me through all these storied years.
Click on any picture below to read the captions & scroll the full size gallery. Please remember the photographs are copyrighted materials. Any questions may be directed to StoryWindow Productions. Don’t forget to leave a memory below!
Connie telling stories to preschoolers in a day-care center in Chattanooga
Connie and her sock puppet, “Petunia” greeting the children in her Library’s special storytelling program called MORE (Making our Reading Enjoyable) which continues to this day!
Connie at the Chattanooga Public Library Children's Room
1973 Letter to me about the very first National Storytelling Festival from founder, Jimmy Neil Smith
Renowned Appalachian Storyteller Ray Hicks at the first National Storytelling Festival in 1973
Connie listening to Ray Hicks in Carolyn Moore's home the evening after the first festival
Connie's letter to Jimmy Neil Smith after being invited to be featured at the 2nd National Storytelling Festival (pg 1)
Connie's letter to Jimmy Neil Smith after being invited to be featured at the 2nd National Storytelling Festival (pg 2)
Eliza Seeman (left) had gifted Connie with what became her signature story “Two White Horses” and heard her tell it at the 2nd National Storytelling Festival when the two met for the first time in person. Eliza said she was expecting a much older storyteller!
Connie's first paycheck for being a featured teller at the 2nd National Festival in 1974 (note the spelling on Jonesborough)
Barbara Freeman and me with Anne Izard, noted librarian, film maker and storyteller in front of our beloved “D’Put” – The Folktellers’ fulltime home on the road for 3 years!
Connie's first cousin and storytelling partner Barbara Freeman taking the stage at a Folk Music Festival as the duo "The Folktellers"
The Folktellers 1st quarter touring schedule, notes, & income for 1976
Soon after meeting Ray Hicks, Connie & her cousin Barbara Freeman journeyed to the Hicks Homeplace front porch in Watauga County, NC to hear more stories
(Photo by: Bob Hutchinson)
Application for membership in NAPPS (the first National Storytelling Association.) Connie was on the founding Board of Directors and served for 10 years, some of that time as Chair and artistic Director of the National Festival.
Stanley Hicks, (left) Ray’s double first cousin, Stanley’s sister, ballad singer, Hattie Hicks Presnell & Richard Chase, the collector and author of “The Jack Tales” and “Grandfather Tales” - visiting at an early festival in Jonesborough, TN
Marshall Dodge, Maine humorist & creator of the "Burt & I" Stories. He served on the Board of NAPPS
Storyteller and naturalist, Doug Elliot with "Blossom" his Possum on his shoulder
Famed in both the folk music and storytelling worlds, David Holt with his wife Ginny & their son Zeb
Connie showing NAPPS founder and director, Jimmy Neil Smith how to tell a picture book
The ever-brilliant Ed Stivender
Beloved storyteller Jackie Torrence
Award winning children’s book author, Ezra Jack Keats with Connie on his first visit to Jonesborough (That’s my 1969 Karmann Ghia Behind us!)
Utah Phillips, a well-known folk musician, on his first appearance at the National Storytelling Festival
Extraordinary guitarist & tale-teller Gamble Rogers. Connie & Gamble met at the Winnipeg Folk Festival in Canada. She invited him to be featured that Fall at the National – and he became a regular – whether he was telling or not.
David Holt sharing his banjo talents
Storytellers (from left) Pleasant DeSpain, Jackie Torrence, (front row) Laura Simms, Ellin Greene and Kathryn Windham
Heather Forest, one of the first to blend her music with storytelling
Connie talking to all the storytellers featured at the 10th National Storytelling Festival. All the tellers who had performed at the first 9 fests were invited to tell!
Two stars in the storytelling world - Jay O'Callahan with Brother Blue
Esteemed and beloved storyteller, Mary Carter Smith with Connie
Storytellers at an early festival. That's Donald Davis in the back row on the right.
Connie looking up to mentor Ray Hicks
Connie at the Hicks Homeplace on Beech Mountain with Rosa & Ray Hicks. (That’s The Folktellers’ traveling home, “D’Put” in the background.)
Beloved storyteller and medicine show barker, Doc McConnell was one of the early featured tellers at the national and a member of the founding board of Directors of NAPPS, the first national storytelling association.
The Folkteller’s touring schedule in 1980 that covered 10 states, 3 countries – and performing prime-time on main stage at the Philadelphia Folk festival for an audience of 10,000!
I love this photo of Ray Hicks enjoying himself at the National Festival taken by Tom Raymond. I was Ray’s emcee almost every time he performed there!
Connie and Kathryn Tucker Windham celebrating at the tellers’ reception at the 10th National Storytelling Festival
My dear Rosa Hicks on her front porch
Bessie Jones, a renowned leader of the Georgia Sea Island Singers and a bearer of the Gullah tradition, near her home. Barbara and I shared the stage and began a friendship with Bessie at the National Folk Festival at Wolf Trap in Washington, DC. We kept in touch and later visited her on St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, where I took this photo.
Storytellers Harriet Allen and David Holt at the 10th annual festival 1982
Barbara Freeman and Gamble Rogers in downtown Jonesborough, TN
Vi Hilbert, a noted elder of the Upper Skagit tribe in the Pacific Northwest with her dear friend (and mine), storyteller Laura Simms along with Vi’s mentee, Rebecca Chamberlain
Ephat Mujuru, Zimbabwe storyteller and newly appointed Festival Artistic Director, Laura Simms
That’s a happy me with my sweetheart, Phil Blake (left -he’s my husband of almost 4 decades now) and my brother, Gordon Regan
Brother Blue – in all his flamboyant finery!
Jimmy Neil Smith, myself, Laura Simms and Jay O’Callahan on stage – a changing of the mantle of Festival Artistic director from me to Laura.
Ray Hicks telling to a packed tent at the national festival. He went from an audience of 45 at the first fest where he met his first microphone to a thousand or more, overflowing listeners. Ray came to have a total comfort behind that microphone
(Photo by: Tom Raymond)
A magical moment when we became ‘cover girls’ for the School Library Journal with a featured article called , “SHEHERAZADES IN DENIM.” First time ever for the Journal to have ‘real people’ on the cover and we were thrilled beyond belief!
Connie and Barbara being interviewed for ABC’s “Good Morning America”
As a way to stay home more, Barbara and I co-wrote, produced and starred in our original play, “Mountain Sweet Talk.”
“Mountain Sweet Talk” ran for 7 seasons with over 300 performances. It still holds the mantle as Asheville’s longest running theatrical production.
After a rich, flourishing partnership as The Folktellers, Connie and Barbara embarked on new journeys as solo performers. Connie was invited by The Kandinsky Trio to help create and perform, “Tales of Appalachia,” that combined storytelling with classical piano, cello and violin.
Connie and The Kandinsky Trio in our fancy tuxedos after one of our more than 300 performances of “ Tales of Appalachia”, an innovative work, composed by Mike Reid (in the back row) that interweaves storytelling and classical music.
Connie’s photo of the Hicks Homeplace on Beech Mountain in Watauga County, the home where Ray was born, on land that has been in the Hicks family since the 1700’s.
Ted, the youngest son with his Mom, Rosa and Dad, Ray Hicks on their front porch. Rosa is holding a bouquet of her beautiful dahlias, some of which I have growing in my gardens today.
Connie with Ted and his sister Dorothy Jean Hicks Odom in the field of Rosa’s dahlias
Connie with Ray in the Hicks “front room” with the wood stove nearby (the sole source of heat for their home at the time.)
(Photo by: Tome Raymond)
Namakasa Rose and Connie in Kampala, Uganda at the office of “Bead for Life”
The non-profit, “Bead for Life” offered a helping hand for Ugandan women to pull themselves out of poverty through this beautiful handmade jewelry crafted from paper.
Beaders welcoming Connie to the Acholi Village on the outskirts of Kampala, Uganda
Ray Hicks passed away in 2003. I continue to feel his wisdom & legacy each time I take the stage.
(Photo by: Tom Raymond. This life-size portrait of Ray is on loan to the International Storytelling Center from the “Connie Regan-Blake Library of Congress Collection.”)
A treasured group of storytelling friends who gathered for a week each year to work on stories, play, nurture our creative juices and sink into deep conversations. We had a 30 year run! And now we keep our friendships going on Zoom. (Jay O’Callahan and Len Cabral didn’t make it into this photo.) We call ourselves the “Blue Lakers.”
Another major project – sorting and sending my materials to the Library of Congress to be a part of the “Connie Regan-Blake Collection” containing papers, sound recordings, photographs, moving images, and artifacts, that document my career.
First shipment ready to head to the Library of Congress to be a part of the “Connie Regan-Blake Collection.” Hoping to send another shipment soon!
I can still hear Ray Hicks telling me, “Connie, tell on. Tell on!” I invite you to do the same!
Send Connie a message about your favorite story or memory in the contact form below.