Donald Davis—who has become an icon of storytelling at the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival and who is a master at taking listeners to the North Carolina mountains to laugh at stories about spilled syrup, broken bones, “doobies,” and pink lotion rubbed all over the baby—says he grew up listening to and loving stories.
“I did not choose to be a storyteller. I simply grew up in the North Carolina mountains in a world that was pre-television and with relatives who still did not even have electricity. There was lots of visiting on porches and in living rooms and kitchen. . . . I didn’t even know it was called storytelling,” Davis explains.
When he was in school, he would share his stories with others. “This continued on through college and into early adulthood.”
As storytelling festivals took root, Davis started getting calls asking him to be a teller.
“The first festival at which I was featured was the National Storytelling Festival. I have now told there for forty-one years.
“It was purely a matter of demand that led me to spend my life in this way. The invitations did not stop and pretty soon they included asking for workshops as well as performances. Then a publisher asked for a book.”
Davis believes “Storytelling just happened to and for me!”
He thinks things in life happen the way they are supposed to happen, “You cannot force them because you simply want to be or do something.”
He does, however, encourage his audience to search their memories and find the stories they can share.
“What I love is seeing other people relate to the stories I tell by remembering and telling their own stories. When they come up later and say “that reminded me of” I know they are going home with a story they would not have remembered if they had not first been a listener,” Davis says.
“The audience is my partner in telling. I describe pictures and watch the listeners ‘til they show me that they are not listening to but rather watching the story happen. Then we go forward.”
Davis has been part of the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival since it started 32 years ago, telling stories, teaching workshops and conferences; making friends.
He is beloved, funny. and unique. He says the same things about the Festival.
“Timpanogos is my favorite festival and I look forward to being back after missing the reality of last year.”