Introducing Valerie Tutson, a Rhode Island storyteller and artist featured in WBRU’s Revolutionary Roots series.
Valerie Tutson has been practicing storytelling for as long as she can remember: “My dad said I was born with my mouth open and was always telling stories,” she explained. And though she has always loved reading and telling stories, her strongest memory is from when she was in 8th grade. Living in a small town in Connecticut at the time, Tutson drew from African-American history, literature and her own story as the daughter of a white mother and a Black father — “a product of that civil rights movement” — to express to her classmates what her experience was being Black.
Tutson has lived in Providence, Rhode Island since she first attended Brown University as an undergraduate. Here, she founded the Rhode Island Black Storytellers (RIBS) in 1998. RIBS has hosted Funda Fest every year for the past 22 years, a weeklong festival celebrating local and national Black storytellers and performers in a series of events that are free and open to the public. Outside of her work with RIBS, Tutson also travels nationally to schools and conferences, sharing and spreading a rich range of African-American, African and Caribbean folklore, history and traditions.