2022 National Association of Black Storytellers: Black Appalachian Storytellers Fellowship
Boone, North Carolina
Year of Award
Grant or Fellowship
Black Appalachian Storytellers Fellowships
Ray is a retired, decorated army paratrooper and combat veteran, Doctor of Education, Fulbright Specialist Expert in Education and Storytelling Narrative, and former Adjunct professor teaching African American History and Storytelling at Appalachian State University. He was selected as the 2017 Serenbe France Focus Storytelling Fellow (Atlanta, GA) and has performed on the National Storytelling festivals New Voices stage, and numerous storytelling festivals around the US and Canada. His stories have appeared in Reader’s Digest’s 2016 Best Stories in America, the 2017 American Hero’s edition, and The New York Times bestselling book How to Tell a Story written by the Moth’s Directorial team. As a competitive storyteller, Ray is a 12 time Moth Story Slam Champion, and winner of the 2016 National Storytelling Festival Story Slam. His stories have been featured multiple times on the “Moth Radio Hour”, “Snap Judgment”, “Back Story Radio” and the “Spooked”, “Story Collider”, “AdultISH”, “The Confessional,” and “Risk” podcasts among many others. Ray travels to Asheville, NC, where he hosts the monthly Moth Story Slam, but resides in the remote mountains of Watauga County, NC, where he hosts and produces the podcast "What’s Ray Saying", a show that uses history and story to explore the Black American experience from a unique perspective.
Lastly Ray will be a featured performer at this year’s International Storytelling Festival In Jonesborough, TN, in October 2022.
Ray Christian on his roots in Black Appalachian storytelling:
Studs Terkel drew me in by the way he was able to recreate the smells and textures of poverty with his words. And because I knew some of that world, his authenticity was something to be admired. I also came to admire Frederick Douglass’ way of retelling a painful and dark past in a way that was moving and somehow motivating. And finally, my ultimate inspiration was found in the work of Alex Haley. His work taught me that one only needs to look into the complexities of his own life to find countless stories to share, those meant to preserve the past, those attempting to influence the present, and those aimed at sharing the future.
As I began to refine my skills and sharing stories in a planned, public performance style, I looked far and wide for those who were actively doing what I wanted to perfect. I joined the National Storytelling Network, the National Association of Black Storytellers and the NC Association of Black Storytellers.