February 03, 2011
Traditional storyteller Orville Hicks at Lees-McRae February 17

If you feel winter dragging you down, break away for an evening of old-time mountain fun. Traditional storyteller Orville Hicks will be practicing his art at Lees-McRae College beginning at 7:00 in Evans Auditorium on February 17. Sponsored by the Stephenson Center for Appalachia, Hicks' program is free and open to the public.

Orville Hicks comes by his profession of storytelling naturally. By birth and by breeding, he is the heir of his relative Ray Hicks as the king-of-the-mountain of traditional storytellers.

Ray had a hand in raising and mentoring Orville, but the younger Hicks' tale-telling roots extend much further back. On his mother's side he is descended from the legendary Council Harmon, 19th century patriarch and repository of Old World lore. Sarah Hicks, Harmon's granddaughter, raised her 11 children on Jack tales, oatmeal and cornbread.

"I was the baby, the youngest one of seven boys and four girls. Mom always had a big ol' pot of oatmeal and a pan of biscuits; by the time it got to me it was about empty. I learnt most of my tales from my mother.

"The stories come down from her side of the family, the Harmon side. Her grandfather was Council Harmon-the tale books give a lot of credit to him," says Orville who wears the mantle of master storyteller as easily as he does his overalls.

Orville Hicks has told his tales at the Smithsonian Institution, colleges, festivals, and at the recycling center. His traditional stories bubble out as naturally as breathing for the area native.

"We are fortunate to have someone like Orville Hicks to bring to us today the tales of yesterday, told in the same way as the mountain sages from the past told them," said Dr. Michael Joslin, director of the Stephenson Center for Appalachia at Lees-McRae College. "Orville always puts on an entertaining and informative show. His voice is an echo from times gone by that we are privileged to hear. We invite everyone to come to share his tales."

Lees-McRae welcomes everyone to join the program in Evans Auditorium beginning at 7:00 p.m. on Thursday, February 17. For information call Meghan Wright at 828 898-8729.

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