Kucha’s Story

Kucha means dawning in Ki-Swahili. Dawning is the first light. It is the onset of understanding. Storytelling initiates a desire to read, to explore and taps into the imagination of the listener.Stories are the foundation of understanding concepts. Storytelling creates magical moments. Storytelling is the vehicle through which Kucha dawns.

I came to storytelling by way of theatre. After graduating I worked with a children’s theatre company, The Truck, Inc, which later became Monarch Theatre Co. I also worked with Roots: Black Voices in American History and The Cultural Messengers. All of these were touring companies. We performed in all types of settings and conditions from large to small, with and without technical capabilities, on stage, on the floor—you imagine it, we performed in it. In some cases the shows were scripted and my role varied depending on which combination of performers I worked with. Other times the performance consisted of literary, educational, and/or historical vignettes strung together around a theme. What an education!

After attending a storytelling concert, I became electrified and realized that although I didn’t call myself a storyteller, I was a storyteller! I began the serious pursuit of making this my new vocation. I’ve always been a story lover. With a BA in English, storytelling is a marriage of my experience with my training. Soon a friend asked me to tell at her school. Everyone loved my telling; but missed my singing. So, I began incorporating my singing into my telling.

Transitioning into a storytelling career was easy, expanding over the years. From the school performance I’ve moved into performances all over: The Northern Indiana Arts Alliance, Abbott Labs, La Rabida Hospital, the Old Capitol Building in Springfield, The Black Master Storytellers Festival: Signifying and Testifying. I am now performing new literary and historical pieces. I have also begun to perform with a talented musician and incorporate musical instruments into my performance.

It brings me great joy to entertain while teaching. Audiences learn without realizing that they are being taught. I love seeing the sparkle in my listeners’ eyes. I am happy to speak for those who may not otherwise be heard.

I love storytelling and want to insure that this art form thrives. To this end, I teach. I was a lead storyteller facilitator for “Communications 37.” This was a pilot program for development in the storytelling, reading and writing skills. It targeted high school students.

I have also facilitated workshops for Mayor Daley’s Book Club; trained student tellers to assist in Head Start programs for the Dept of Children and Family Services; and encouraged other trainers to incorporate storytelling for the Spirits Light Foundation, Inc. and the Alliance Library System. Presently I am on ASE: The Chicago Association of Black Storyteller’s youth committee, training young people interested in telling stories. In addition I am a certified Gang Resistance Education And Training (G.R.E.A.T.) instructor, presently teaching in Chicago Public Schools.

Education

I have a BA in English from UIC and a MBA in Management of public and not-for-profit organizations from St. Xavier University.

Performing Arts Training and Instruction received from:

Mother Mary Carter Smith, Tejumola Ologboni, Baba Jamal Koram, Dr. David “Sankofa” Anderson, Bill Grimmette, Nancy Donoval, Johnny Moses, Beth Horner, Jim May, Bill Harley, Loren Niemi, Elizabeth Ellis, Jay O’Callahan, Carol Birch.

Affiliations

  • National Association of Black Storytellers (NABS) – Lifetime member
  • National Storytelling Network (NSN)
  • Illinois Storytelling, Inc. (ISI)
  • African American Arts Alliance of Chicago
  • Arts Alliance Illinois
  • Tejas Storytelling Association
  • Co-founder of Ase: The Chicago Association of Black Storytellers (ASE)