Children’s Story Hour
Diane Ferlatte has been researching, collecting and telling stories for over 35 years. Diane has frequently been a featured storyteller at the annual National Storytelling Festival as well as many other festivals in the U.S. and throughout the world. She has toured internationally in over 20 countries on six different continents. Among her most memorable events is her performance for President Clinton at his inauguration, as well as performing at the Smithsonian Folk Life Festival in Washington, DC.
Diane has received numerous honors including grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Award, the National Black Storyteller’s Zora Neale Hurston Award, as well as the California Arts Council’s highest ranking. All of her recordings have also won awards including those from Parents’ Choice, the American Library Association, National Parenting Publications, the National Youth Storytelling Pegasus Award, Storytelling World Awards, as well as a 2008 Grammy nomination.
Erik Pearson has been playing the guitar since he was 12 years old. At Oberlin College he started studying South Indian music and began learning the banjo and old-time Appalachian string band music. He has been accompanying Diane for over 25 years while serving on the teaching faculty of the San Francisco Community Music Center.
Gene Tagaban/Guuy Yaau
Cherokee, Tlingit, Filipino
Gene Tagaban is a storyteller, cultural teacher, dancer, singer and musician. Gene facilitates workshops and gatherings on being trauma informed, allyship, wellness, health and healing. “I’m invited to share stories at festivals each year but the majority of my storytelling is with participants in wellness, trauma and healing gatherings.”
Gene is a board member, trainer and mentor with the Native Wellness Institute, “Keeping our Ancestral Wisdoms Alive.” A trainer for Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, facilitating male engagement and mentorship programs to heal and end the violence and assault. Gene is a cultural consultant with Mother Nation, an organization providing cultural services, advocacy, mentorship and homeless prevention to Native women and families. A Seattle Indian Health Board consultant with their Traditional Indian Medicines and Healing Program. Gene has a passion for Nature Connection and is a specialty instructor and honorary uncle with the Wilderness Awareness School and assists as a Tracking instructor and evaluator. Based in Seattle Gene performs with the band Khu’eex, providing original funk, jazz, blues and rock music with a Native vibe.
Gene is always open to share stories, spirit and inspiration with people of all ages. In the words of one participant,
“Thank you Gene, I feel like finally someone is speaking to my spirit.”
Bil Lepp is an award-winning storyteller, author, and recording artist. He’s the host of the History Channel’s Man vs. History series, the occasional host of NPR’s internationally-syndicated Mountain Stage, and a contributing columnist to the West Virginia Gazette-Mail.
Growing up in a family where the truth was fluid, Bil Lepp became adept at spinning tales and exaggerating circumstances at an early age. A nationally-renowned storyteller and five-time champion of the West Virginia Liars’ Contest, Bil’s outrageous, humorous tall-tales and witty stories have earned the appreciation of listeners of all ages and from all walks of life. Though a champion liar, his stories often contain morsels of truth, which shed light on universal themes. Be it a hunting trip, a funeral, or a visit to the dentist, Bil can find the humor in any situation. Lepp explains that while his stories may not be completely true, they are always honest.
Bil’s books and audio collections have won awards including the PEN Steven Kroll Award for Children’s Book Writing, Parents’ Choice Gold awards, awards from the National Parenting Publications Association, and the Public Library Association. He is also the recipient of the Vandalia Award, West Virginia’s highest folk honor.
In 2011, Bil was awarded the National Storytelling Network’s Circle of Excellence Award. Lepp has been featured 19 times at the National Storytelling Festival, and performed at major storytelling festivals around the county, at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival, and at corporate events and functions.
Bil lives in South Charleston, WV with his wife and two children.
“Just as New Jersey has Bruce Springsteen, West Virginia has…Bil Lepp.”–Goldenseal Magazine
“…Lepp, a cross between Dr. Seuss and…film noir….” –Charleston Gazette
Ivan E. Coyote
Ivan E. Coyote is a writer and storyteller. Born and raised in Whitehorse, Yukon, they are the author of thirteen books, the creator of four films, six stage shows, and three albums that combine storytelling with music. Coyote’s books have won the ReLit Award, been named a Stonewall Honour Book, been longlisted for Canada Reads, and been shortlisted for the Hilary Weston Prize for non-fiction and the Governor General’s award for non-fiction twice. In 2017 Ivan was given an honorary Doctor of Laws from Simon Fraser University. They have toured public schools solo around the world for 19 years now, using the power of a personal story to fight bullying and make schools safer for students, staff, and parents. In 2022 Ivan will mark 28 years on the road as an international touring storyteller and musician. Coyote’s stories grapple with the complex and intensely personal topics of gender identity, family, class, and queer liberation, but always with a generous heart and a quick wit. Ivan’s stories manage to handle both the hilarious and the historical with reverence and compassion, and remind us all of our own fallible and imperfect humanity, while at the same time inspiring us to change the world.
For years, Ivan has kept a file of the most special communications received from readers and audience members—letters, Facebook messages, emails, soggy handwritten notes tucked under the windshield wiper of their truck after a gig. Then came Spring, 2020, and, like artists everywhere, Coyote was grounded by the pandemic, all their planned events canceled. The energy of a live audience, a performer’s lifeblood, was suddenly gone. But with this loss came an opportunity for a different kind of connection. Those letters that had long piled up could finally begin to be answered.
Care Of, Ivan’s 13th book, released in June 2021 by McClelland and Stewart, combines the most powerful of these letters with Ivan’s responses, creating a body of correspondence of startling intimacy, breathtaking beauty, and heartbreaking honesty and openness. Taken together, they become an affirming and joyous reflection on many of the themes central to Coyote’s celebrated work—compassion and empathy, family fragility, non-binary and trans identity, and the unending beauty of simply being alive, a giant love letter to the idea of human connection, and the power of truly listening to each other.
Since 1981, award-winning co-directors Nancy Wang, dancer, choreographer, performer and playwright, and Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo, musician, composer, performer, and playwright, have performed their interdisciplinary style of storytelling for over 1 million people across the nation and abroad. Using movement, music and stylized gesture, they perform ancient Asian folktales and myths as well as contemporary Asian-American inspiring and historical stories. Their tales express values and messages that are Asian specific and universal at the same time.
Eth-Noh-Tec, their Asian American kinetic storytelling non-profit, has gained international recognition with its mission to build cultural bridges that celebrate diversity and create compassionate communities through the art of storytelling. Their ability to represent the many and diverse Asian cultures, including Asian-American, has made them an essential asset to those organizations committed to presenting diverse voices.
Besides creating and staging original performances, they organize tours to Asia for storytellers to share stories and culture with Asian storytellers. They also conduct workshops on storytelling and movement, Asian music and dance, and others. They perform in libraries, festivals, museums, and schools, including at the presidential inaugurations of Bill Clinton in 1993 and of Barack Obama in 2009.
Their awards include the “International StoryBridge” and “Circle of Excellence” from the National Storytelling Network; the Izzy nomination for original music and performance; and various awards given to their CDs and DVDs. They have received numerous grants for their work: NEA, California Arts Council, SF Arts Commission, Robert Joseph Lee Memorial Fund, Zellerbach Family Fund, and many many more.
Eth-Noh-Tec is also a SF Green Business.
Nancy Wang, playwright, director, actor, dancer, and project manager co-founded Eth-Noh-Tec, an Asian-American storytelling theater nonprofit in 1981.
Drawing on her background in modern and ethnic dance, theater, and playwriting, Nancy co-scripts and sculpts Eth-Noh-Tec’s synchronistic and seamless tandem movements. With lyricism, rhythmic, and visual counterpoints drawn from Nancy’s choreography and staging skills, ENT’s stories provide evocative visuals to stimulate and deepen the imagination.
As a playwright, her plays of Asian-American themes include: Leave Me My Dreaming, Asian American Theater Company; Unspeakable Moons, Noh Theater; Takashi’s Dream, various festivals and theaters; In Need of Goddesses commissioned by Creative Work Fund; Bittersweet commissioned by Racebridges; Red Altar, an immigration story performed throughout the US in festivals and theaters; Shadows & Secrets reading, the SF International Arts Festival, United States of Asian America Festival, Orcas StoryFest; author A New Pair of Wings. Red Altar book pending publication.
Along with her husband and co-director of Eth-Noh-Tec, they have received numerous grants and awards for their performances and cultural products.
Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo, co-director of Eth-Noh-Tec, composer, creative consultant, multi-media graphic designer.
1977: began composing and performing songs celebrating vanishing towns and heroes of Asian America.
1981: co-founded Kalilang with Nancy, pioneering and introducing Southern Filipino kulintang gong music and dance to Northern California with a school and performing company. He received the prestigious NEA Folk Arts award to forward the research and performance of this indigenous music in the Filipino Community.
1987: having studied traditional Asian instruments and contemporary western modalities, he co-created Eth-Noh-Tec’s unique style of storytelling using language rhythmic and lyrical. He has written and co-written over 100 folktale performances.
He composed film scores for Wayne Wang Chan is Missing and Eat a Bowl of Tea, Felicia Lowe Carved in Silence; performing/songwriting for Asian American Yokohama, California; Bamboo Brew; The Noh Buddies.
He is also a visual artist.
Yuriko Takata was born in California to parents who emigrated from Japan after WWII. She went to the Academy of Art in San Francisco and worked as an artist in many different mediums, primarily watercolors and pastels, as well as some handmade paper and clay sculpture. Now she’s discovering the joys of a new creative expression: storytelling with Eth-Noh-Tec.
An energetic teller of mostly-true tales, Tom Wade’s stories engage people of all ages. Tom grew up as one of 10 kids in Michigan, has worked in mental hospitals, traveled widely, and now lives as a gardener and homestead dairyman in California. His stories draw from all of this experience with the aim of inspiring others. Tom is also a six-time winner of the Sierra Story Slam.