SPARKY AND RHONDA RUCKER
Sparky and Rhonda telling a tandem tale. (Photo by Harvey Koplo)
Nationally acclaimed musicians, authors, and storytellers Sparky and Rhonda Rucker have wowed audiences throughout the United States, Canada, and Europe with humor, witticism, and wonderful songs and stories. They perform at festivals, schools, libraries, and historical sites for audiences of all ages. Sparky and Rhonda tell both solo and tandem stories, always adding life and humor to the characters in their tales.
Sparky is a natural storyteller, having grown up hearing his father, uncles, and other family members endlessly telling tales. Sparky’s solo performances include High John the Conqueror and Brer Rabbit stories as well as preacher tales. He is featured on Tall Tales of the Blue Ridge: Stories from the Heart of Appalachia, a video produced by the Eastern National Park & Monument Association in 1992. He has appeared at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee, the Festival of Storytelling on Martha’s Vineyard, Motlow State Community College’s Storytelling Festival, and the Texas Storytelling Festival. In 2000, he contributed to More Ready-To-Tell Tales, an anthology of stories from many of the nation’s best professional storytellers. He also contributed to another anthology, The August House Book of Scary Stories: Spooky Tales for Telling Out Loud. Sparky has been presented with the "Life Membership Award" by the National Association of Black Storytellers.
Like Sparky, Rhonda enjoys relating the history behind the songs they sing. One such story led to her debut historical novel, Swing Low, Sweet Harriet, which is based on Harriet Tubman’s work as a spy and scout during the Civil War when she helped lead African American soldiers on the Combahee River raid in South Carolina. Rhonda’s solo tales often reflect her Kentucky roots, including family stories as well as traditional Appalachian yarns. She has taught storytelling classes at the Appalachian Family Folk Week at Hindman Settlement School in Kentucky and at Common Ground on the Hill in Westminster, Maryland.
Together, Sparky and Rhonda have been tellers-in-residence at the International Storytelling Center in Jonesborough, Tennessee. They also wrote a chapter for the storytelling book Team Up! Tell In Tandem! More recently, they gave their storytelling program, “Telling the Truth Goodbye,” for the Gaston County Public Library in North Carolina. They were featured tellers at the “Tales from the Dark Side of the Mountain” Storytelling Festival in Crossville, Tennessee, the Front Porch Storytelling Festival in Florence, Alabama, and at the Fox Valley Folk Music and Storytelling Festival in Geneva, Illinois. Their CD, Done Told the Truth, Goodbye!, showcases their storytelling.
Sparky and Rhonda telling another tandem tale.
STORYTELLING APPEARANCES (partial list):
Sparky & Rhonda Rucker
Fox Valley Music and Storytelling Festival in Geneva, Illinois – featured tellers
Front Porch Storytelling Festival in Florence, Alabama
“Tales from the Dark Side of the Mountain” Festival in Crossville, TN
Tellers-in-Residence: International Storytelling Center, Jonesborough, TN
“A Tiger’s Tale: A One Day Storytelling Festival,” Houston, TX
“Sounds of the Mountains” Storytelling and Music Festival, VA
The ETSU/Umoja (Unity) African-American Storytelling Institute
James "Sparky" Rucker
Copyright © 2001-2019 by James "Sparky" Rucker and Rhonda H. Rucker. All rights reserved.
Web Site by Rhonda H. Rucker
National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee
Tellabration ‘99! A Worldwide Storytelling Event [Smoky Mountain Storytellers Association]
Alex Haley International Literary and Storytelling Festival, Knoxville, TN
The Festival of Storytelling on Martha’s Vineyard, MA
Motlow State C. C. Storytelling Festival, Tennessee
Texas Storytelling Festival, Denby, TX
Featured performer on Tall Tales of the Blue Ridge: Stories From the Heart of Appalachia, a video recording released by the Eastern National Park & Monument Association.
Featured author in More Ready-to-Tell-Tales anthology (published by August House), which won the "Storytelling World Award 2001 Honor Title."
"Life Membership Award" by the National Association of Black Storytellers