Singing storyteller offers preview of upcoming storytelling festival

Published 9:00 am Thursday, March 2, 2023

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On Tuesday, Friends of LaGrange Memorial Library hosted the Rev. Robert B. Jones for an evening of music, laughter, tears and storytelling.

The event was a preview of the upcoming Azalea Storytelling Festival happening this weekend on March 3-5 at the Callaway Auditorium.

Jones, a native of Detroit, will be making his debut as a first-time teller at the festival.

“Tonight, we had the opportunity to hear Reverend Jones. Most of us for the first time, but it won’t be the last he is outstanding,” Co-Chair Joyce Morgan Young said.

Alivia Green, an attendee of the event, said she has always had a love for music and storytelling.

“I’ve always had a love for music that told actual stories,” Green said. “Coming here tonight, I was blown away by his (Jones) talent and ability to pull you in and take you to church. I hope to see him again over the weekend.”

Kirsten Dunn, director of the Azalea Storytelling Festival, said she was pleased with the turnout.

“Rev. Jones has such a personable personality. I think that really came across in his music and stories. It couldn’t be a more gracious start to the to the lineup for the weekend,” Dunn said.

Jones, who had been making visits to local elementary schools, said he was excited to be in LaGrange for the festival.

“The fellowship of storytellers is really amazing and friendly,” Jones said. “The idea of laying the groundwork for the festival is a great compliment because it means you can go to schools, or you can go to libraries, or you can go to churches, and hopefully, you’ll attract people to experience storytelling if they have never done it before.”

Jones’ storytelling uses music to take listeners through life experiences, church and music.

“We all have certain gifts in terms of how we present a story. I have a friend named Bill, who is one of the great storytelling liars. He could take something and go ridiculous with it. Donald Davis, who I consider to be the dean of storytellers, takes you down south growing up to what it was like growing up in a family in North Carolina. Every one of us has an approach that we love to do,” Jones said.

“When I was starting off as a musician, stories helped me so, now I keep stories mixed with the music — that’s how I experience storytelling.”

During his time in Troup County, Jones said he would be happy to return.

“I realized there are lots of storytellers and sometimes it takes a little time to circle your way back, but I’d be happy to be here anytime,” Jones said.