Comb concert will honor memory of Kathryn Tucker Windham

Published 7:49 am Saturday, January 21, 2012

The last time Alabama’s legendary storyteller, Kathryn Tucker Windham, was on stage at the We Piddle Around Theater in Brundidge, she conducted a comb concert.

Windham was noted for quieting spirits and melting hearts by inviting people to “play with me.”

Windham often told about calming a wild and wooly class of Sunday school children by playing the combs. She brought togetherness to the people of Selma during times of racial unrest with musical combs. She conducted comb concerts all around the country and sometimes played a soft tune on a comb when she was home alone.

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On Saturday night, Jan. 28, at the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival at the Trojan Center Theater, the audience will honor Windham’s memory by playing the combs.

Windham was scheduled to perform at the 2011 Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival but had to cancel due to illness. She died in June of that year at the age of 93.

“Mrs. Windham’s not being here was a great disappointment to many,” said Cathie Steed, a member of the sponsoring Brundidge Historical Society’s storytelling committee. “She was the favorite storyteller of many people, not just in Alabama, but all around the country. People everywhere were deeply saddened by her death.”

Steed said Windham was an extremely popular storyteller at the We Piddle Around Theater and at the Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival over the past five years.

“We wanted to remember Mrs. Windham in a special way at the 2012 Pike Piddlers Storytelling Festival and we could think of no better way than by playing the combs,” Steed said.

“We have combs inscribed with the four L’s that Mrs. Windham said her dad taught her – Listen, Learn, Laugh, Love. Each person in the audience will get a comb to play and keep as a memento of all the laughter and love that Kathryn Tucker Windham brought to so many people.”

As a part of the tribute to Windham, each of the featured storytellers, Donald Davis, Kevin Kling, Bil Lepp and Suzi Whaples, will share one of their favorite memories of the legendary storyteller.

Davis delivered the eulogy for his longtime friend and fellow professional storyteller at the memorial service at Church Street United Methodist Church.

He said he had balked when Windham asked him to give her eulogy.

He told her that he might cry if he tried to do that.

She quickly asked Davis if he’d ever seen a ghost, to which he answered that he had not.

“Well, you’ll see one if you cry,” was her reply.

“Mrs. Windham had an incredible sense of humor and I’m sure that the memories the storytellers share will be happy ones,” Steed said. “Our tribute to her will be fun and uplifting.”

The tribute will be held prior to the storytelling concert, which begins at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 28 at the Trojan Center Theater on the campus of Troy University. Other storytelling concerts are at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. on Jan. 28.

Tickets are available at The Messenger or by calling 334-735-3125 or 334-685-5524.