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NSN Storyteller Profile ... BZ Smith

17827 Lime Rock Dr.
Sonora, CA 95370

(209) 532-7697

(209) 559-7697


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In 2011 NSN awarded BZ Smith the Pacific States' Oracle Award for Service and Leadership, shining a light on her long and vigorous storyteller's life. With 37+ years of experience, BZ enjoys performing for all ages, coaching tellers, and giving workshops. Her early work is anchored by 15 years in children's library service, starting in 1974. "When I began no one understood storytelling, so I offered puppet shows, too." A pioneer in tandem telling, she helped create two of California's earliest tandem troupes: The Moonbeams (1976 to 1980) and The Story Tailors (1981 to 1988). As her work spread she gained accolades for innovative programming and effective use of storytelling. "In those early years I urged many local public agencies to explore storytelling as a medium for their own missions." So, she began working with the US Forest Service, the WIC Nutrition Education program, mental health professionals, educators in early childhood, agriculture, the environment and the arts. For 12 years she taught elementary and middle school, including enrichment courses in storytelling and puppetry. BZ is an experienced grant writer, arts advocate and program producer. In 2009 she wrote a grant to design a high school-level course for The Art of Storytelling in Filmmaking, now in its 4th year. B.Z. enjoys mentoring Next-Gen tellers, and helped found the Mother Lode Storytelling Guild. Currently she is NSN's liaison in CA's Sierra Nevada Foothills.

From 1995 to 2009 BZ Smith and Cynthia Restivo performed as The Story Quilters, and collaborated on many projects, including teaching multiple workshops and continuing education courses for the Cal-State University system. In 2000 their premiere CD received a Parents' Choice Gold Award. They were featured tellers at various west-coast festivals, and in 2005 were invited to tell for the Exchange Place at the National Storytelling Festival in J'Boro. Tandem Telling remains a passion for BZ. "It is such fun to work in an ensemble! I'd love to coach some new young tandem performers." She still loves the joy and energy of festival and concert telling. Since BZ has always loved bringing music to her programs, she recently began performing with one of central CA's best known ukulele artists: Peg Reza. Together they've performed for the Strawberry Music Festival, adult and family concerts, schools, libraries and house concerts. As she approaches her 5th decade in storytelling, BZ now spends much of her time being a community teller in her hometown, Sonora, CA. She now makes more time for her garden and living an ART-FILLED life with family and friends. She borrows these words from The Grateful Dead: "What a long strange trip it's been!"

Types of stories I tell:

Folk and fairy tales, personal narrative tales, California Gold Rush region stories, improvisational stories, original stories, literary tales, mythological tales from various cultures.

I tell stories for:

All Ages

I provide workshops:


I am willing to travel:


My travel requirements:

My motto: "Let's all earn a decent day's wages to support our families and communities." Travel expenses, supplies for workshops. Fees range from $300-$600 @ day.

School Districts I am cleared to work in:

Most in California. I have a valid California teaching credential.

I am willing to mentor:


Organizations I belong to:

Along with NSN, I'm currently a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an international network of women educators, a member of the Green Chamber of Commerce, and a member of various regional arts councils.