‘Teller of All Tales’ uses her gifts to lighten the hearts of listeners | TheUnion.com

‘Teller of All Tales’ uses her gifts to lighten the hearts of listeners

Awele Makeba does not just tell a tale, she evokes it with words and gestures, song and dance. Just ask the awestruck students sitting next to the stage during one recent performance where Makeba slithered about, flicking her tongue so fast they could have sworn she had turned into a snake!

Using her gifts as storyteller, entertainer, animal impersonator, singer and acrobat, Makeba transports listeners to other worlds populated by nosy possums and denture-wearing preachers, where snakes hiss seductively, basketballs bounce across the floor, and the smell of warm peach cobbler instantly fills the room.

Known internationally as the “Teller of All Tales,” she demonstrates her versatility in seamlessly shifting between the more traditional stories to those illuminating hidden historical events. Through her unique talent for the dramatic, she invites the audience to wrestle with complex and emotionally laden issues that teach us about our common humanity, potential and our purpose for “being” in the world.

Yet no matter what the subject, she’s sure to have everybody hanging on her every word all the way to the end. Steve Sanfield, founder of the Sierra Storytelling Festival, agrees.

“Awele is a bright light in the storytelling world. She brings a depth and a freshness to every stage she graces, and those who are fortunate to hear her inevitably go away with their hearts lifted,” Sanfield said.

Makeba has mesmerized audiences from the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts to the University of Alaska, and she has appeared in Russia, Australia, Taiwan, France and Canada.

Her true story of Claudette Colvin and the famous bus boycott is featured on the CD, “This Land is Your Land,” winner of the NAPPA Gold Award. Another one of her CDs, “Tell That Tale Again” – a spirited celebration of the black oral tradition – recently received the Parents Choice silver honor.

A featured teller at this year’s Sierra Storytelling Festival, Makeba also stars in the festival’s Children Concert on Sunday, July 22.


Marilyn Mociun, director of the Sierra Storytelling Festival since 2004, has received many gifts by attending the festival over the years. The best was meeting her husband there on her birthday 16 years ago! It’s a magical weekend; you never know what will happen.

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