It's an evening of compelling, hilarious, evocative true and personal stories by professional storytellers. Featuring Raymond Christian and special guests Scott Whitehair, Nestor Gomez, and Akwi Nji with music by 2018 International Blues Challenge champion Kevin "B.F." Burt. See full bios below!
RAYMOND CHRISTIAN escaped the urban slums of Richmond, VA, by joining the United States Army at 17. Here he served in a number of capacities and assignments at home, abroad during peace time and in combat, primarily as an Infantryman and Paratrooper. Among other awards during his service he earned the Master parachutist badge, the Combat Infantryman badge and the Bronze star and at the rank of Sergeant First Class he retired after 20 years of service. At 38 years old he went back to school and earned a BS in History (spent a year in Law school), an MA in Public History, an EdS in Education Leadership, and a doctorate in Education. His dissertation research explores the relationship between parental behavior and academic success along with Risk and Resilience theory.
Ray is currently an adjunct professor of History and General Education at Appalachian State University where he teaches the courses “The Souls of Black Folks,” an examination of African American social culture, and “Storytelling: Life in the Narrative,” a course that explores the historic and contemporary use of storytelling and oral history in America. Ray has shared his stories on the Moth Main Stage in the US and Canada before crowds of more than 2000 people. His stories have appeared in Readers Digest (One of the Best Stories in America Edition in 2016 and in The American Hero’s Edition in the July August edition 2017); have been featured on NPR Radio shows The Moth Radio Hour, Snap Judgment, Back Story Radio; on more than 600 radio stations and the nationally acclaimed Risk Podcast as well as numerous others both nationally and internationally. As a competitive storyteller, Ray is a 10-time Moth Story Slam Champion and the winner of the 2016 National Storytelling Festival Story Slam. Ray also has his own podcast “What’s Ray Saying” where he uses History, storytelling and commentary to explore the “Black experience in America." He is also the host of the Synergy Story Slam in Asheville, NC. Ray hopes to continue crafting stories that can serve the cause of cultural enlightenment and social justice by using oral expression to present the human experience in a compelling and memorable way. Ray currently resides in Boone, North Carolina, with his family dogs, chickens, ducks, and turkeys.
SCOTT WHITEHAIR is an international storyteller, teacher, and producer living in Chicago, IL. He is the producer of This Much Is True, one of Chicago's longest running personal narrative series, creator of Story Lab Chicago, recently mentioned in Newsweek and Forbes, which has put 500+ new storytellers on stage since 2011, and director of Do Not Submit, a grassroots network of open mics across the city bringing people together to connect with each other through story. Scott tells anywhere someone will listen, including The National Storytelling Festival Exchange Place, Steppenwolf Theater, the historic Green Mill, and on NPR, the Risk podcast, and Sirius XM. He is a frequent guest instructor at the city's top universities, and his personal narrative class has been selling out every month since 2012. Scott is in demand as a coach worldwide and has facilitated training for a wide variety of corporations and non-profits, including Johnson & Johnson, Loews Hotels, and Boston Children's Hospital. In 2014, he was the featured instructor at Hong Kong Story Worthy Week, headlined by David Sedaris, and in 2015 taught an intensive at All Hallows College in Dublin. Find out more at www.scottwhitehair.com.
NESTOR "THE BOSS" GOMEZ was born in Guatemala and has been telling stories for a little over three years. He is a 27-time Moth Story SLAM winner and 2-time Chicago Moth Grand SLAM winner. However, if you ask him, Nestor will tell you that his biggest accomplishments are his two kids, making his mother and family proud, and winning the heart of his wife, "sweet Mel.” Nestor currently produces, curates and host his own storytelling show 80 Minutes Around the World Immigration Stories. He is also working on a second solo show, a collection of poetry, and his first book. Find out more at www.nestorgomezstoryteller.com.
AKWI NJI is a storyteller, performance poet, writer, and producer. Her work has appeared in Little Village, Hip Mama, Upscale Magazine, Collective Soundwaves and she has performed at the Green Mill, Englert Theatre, for The Moth, and at various festivals throughout the country including the Wine Country Spoken Word Festival. She performs and facilitates writing workshops at Iowa colleges and universities. She is Founding Executive Director of The Hook; an 2016 Artist Fellow through the Iowa Arts Council; and producer of Drop the Mic, ArtLOUD!, #WeAre, and The Living Room Series. As a performer, she is drawn to the communal experience that is at the heart of words being spoken and heard in a public space. Find out more at www.akwinji.org.
KEVIN "B.F." BURT is the 2018 International Blues Challenge champion and has been electrifying audiences throughout the Midwest for more than 25 years, dispelling the myth that true blues has no roots in Iowa. His soul-inspired presentation is unique which consistently get him compared to a range of artists like Bill Withers and Aaron Neville, with the ability to build an audience rapport that has been compared to B.B. King.
Kevin is a self-taught musician (vocals, harmonica, and guitar) whose smooth, warm vocal presentation sets a mood of relaxed exhilaration, with a welcome mixture of serious music and infectious humor audiences of all ages seem to enjoy. His voice and presence are powerful. His unique delivery ranges from the sweetest, fullest, juiciest come-on to the most playful growl. Though he performs between 325 and 400 shows a year, he holds nothing back night after night and audiences leave knowing that.
Kevin has shared the stage in one form or another with a who’s who in the music world: B.B. King, Koko Taylor, Buddy Guy, Albert Collins, Luther Allison, Bernard Allison, Junior Wells, Robert Lockwood Jr., David “Honeyboy” Edwards, Lonnie Brooks, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Wayne Baker Brooks, Blues Traveler, Head East, Molly Hatchet, Three Dog Night, Michael Hill’s Blues Mob, Kenny Wayne Shepard, Chubby Carrier, Terrance Simieon, Dan Zanes, The Holmes Brothers, Tony Brown, Jerry Dugger, Ken Valdez. Find out more at www.bfburt.com.