Whether it’s funny or poignant, sad or joyful, a story has the power to connect people on a deeper level, says storyteller and first-class fiddler Josh Goforth. “I just love a good story,” Goforth says. “I learn so much from watching other tellers.”
Josh grew up in Madison County, North Carolina, surrounded by the music and stories of his ancestors. At the age of four, he was already playing the piano in church. “I grew up in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Folks loved a good tune and a good tale. Many times, I would go to someone’s house to learn a fiddle tune and walk out with a good story.”
A performance in the sixth grade “really lit the fuse” of his musical career. He later learned from local masters and musicians and toured extensively with a variety of ensembles including David Holt, Laura Boosinger, and several bluegrass bands like the Appalachian Trail, the Josh Goforth Trio, the Steep Canyon Rangers, and Open Road. “I had always told small stories in my solo concerts, but when I started working with David Holt 20 years ago, he told me, ‘You should elaborate on those stories and work up some of that material. You could definitely tell at storytelling festivals.’ I was able to get on at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN, to tell a 12-minute story, and I’ve been doing it ever since!”
Josh has performed in all 50 states, in Europe, Asia, and Australia. He has been a featured performer at the Grand Ole Opry, the Lincoln Center, and Carnegie Hall. His fiddling was also featured in the movie, Songcatcher in 2000.
Josh plays bluegrass and country, and is on the faculty of the Academy for the Arts in Asheville. “I love the process of bringing to life these characters I grew up with for my audience. It’s so wonderful to know that they are still alive through stories. But honestly, I think the best part
about storytelling is listening. I learn so much from watching other tellers, I love a good story, and I love sharing stories. When someone shares a story, it might spark a memory in us. Hearing each other tell stories connects us in a powerful way. I always leave a festival knowing a little bit more about someone and a little bit more about myself.”
Josh has been to the Timpanogos Storytelling Festival before and calls it a festival where he feels like he’s with family. “Everyone is so kind, and what great listeners!” Josh’s telling and fiddling will be featured at the 33rd Annual Timpanogos Storytelling Festival at Thanksgiving Point, September 8-10, 2022.