from the Library of Congress,
Co-sponsored by the American Folklife Center
In the 1970s, cousins Connie Regan-Blake and Barbara Freeman were both working at the Chattanooga Public Library, Barbara as Children’s Librarian and Connie as a full-time storyteller for a special outreach program called MORE. In 1973 they attended the first National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. There they met Ray and Rosa Hicks of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, who became lasting friends and mentors. They realized they had a special gift for telling stories, and left their careers at the library to perform nationally and internationally as The Folktellers. Regan-Blake and Freeman pioneered “tandem telling,” a type of duet storytelling performance, and were on the founding Board of Directors for NAPPS, the National Association for the Preservation and the Perpetuation of Storytelling (now the National Storytelling Network). In 1985, The Folktellers moved to Asheville, North Carolina and began working on a play titled Mountain Sweet Talk. This two-act, fully staged play starred Regan-Blake and Freeman, incorporating original material and stories of The Folktellers. The show ran for seven seasons (1986-1992) with over 300 performances. The Folktellers also toured across the country, performing at folk festivals, including the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington D.C. Regan-Blake and Freeman eventually moved on to solo careers, and both are internationally recognized storytellers. Connie Regan-Blake’s collection of recordings, photographs, correspondence, and memorabilia, which documents both her storytelling career and the larger storytelling scene from the 1970s to the present day, is part of the archive of the American Folklife Center. In this special evening program, the two cousins and performing partners step back in time to perform together once again.