Storyteller Spins Tales to Preserve Legends for Santa Ana Audience

An audience of nearly 400 was swept into Jackie Torrence's imagination Saturday night as the storyteller wove her traditional folk tales at the Santa Ana City Hall Annex. Her performance climaxed a day of African and Afro-American cultural activities, sponsored by the Black Cultural Council of the Bowers Museum Foundation.

Known as "The Story Lady" of Granite Quarry, N.C., Torrence is riding the crest of a nationwide storytelling revival, spearheaded by the National Assn. for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling. On Saturday, she related old legends, ghost stories, Uncle Remus stories and "Jack" tales--Appalachian folk tales that grew out of the English classic "Jack and the Beanstalk."

There's a "magic" of nuance in the oral tradition that can be captured only by a live performance, said Richard Anderson, council activities coordinator for the Bowers Foundation.

"The storyteller is really holding on to a lot of the old traditional stories, folk tales and legends. If that goes, we've lost a large part of our American heritage," Anderson said.

Proceeds from the event will help fund upcoming activities of the Black Cultural Council. High among the council's plans is an invitation for Torrence to return, Anderson said.

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