Storyteller Jackie Torrence, died Tuesday, November 30, at her home in Granite
Quarry, North Carolina. She was 60 years old.
Although well-versed in traditional African American folklore and folktales,
Jackie Torrence became a storyteller by chance. She was an assistant at the High
Point, NC, library and started telling stories to keep peace among the children.
As a result she was asked to tell a story at a community event, and continued to
be asked to tell tales in the community, and continued telling tales in 47
states, Great Britain, New Zealand, Guam, Sweden, and Mexico.She first appeared at the National Storytelling Festival in 1977 and quickly
became a spokesperson for the storytelling movement and for the National
Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling (NAPPS),
forerunner to the National Storytelling Network.. She appeared frequently on
television, with appearances on Late Night with David Letterman, and CBS Sunday
Morning with Charles Kurault and co-hosted a Halloween special, The Teller and
the Tale, with Sally Struthers. Steven Spielberg asked Torrence to tell stories
to the top creative artists of his DreamWorks SKG.
Torrence produced nine recordings on several labels. In 1989, her work was
recognized in I Dream a World, by Brian Lanker, a photographic essay about
African-American women who have changed America. Her 1992 play Bluestory,
related the history of blues music and was performed by Piedmont blues musicians
John Cephas and Phil Wiggins. She authored two books, The Importance of Pot
Liquor, and Jackie Tales: The Magic of Creating Stories and the Art of Telling
[Obituary courtesy of the Folk Alliance].