Diane Williams has been called a storyweaver, a keeper of treasured tales, and a collector of phrases. Williams weaves her tales from books, history, myths, legends, and folktales, and many of her stories are original. She has traveled across America telling stories in her unique and creative way.
Williams was a recipient of the National Storytelling Network’s Oracle Award for Regional Leadership and Service, the National Association of Black Storyteller’s Zora Neale Hurston Award, the Mississippi Humanities Council’s Special Chair’s Award and has been nominated twice for the Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in Mississippi. In 1999, she was a finalist in the National Storytelling Contest, and is a recipient of both a scholarship and research grant from the National Storytelling Network, of which she is a past board chairperson.
Williams is a member of the National Association of Black Storytellers and the Network of Biblical Storytellers. She is founder of the Mississippi Storyweavers Guild, the Good News Gospel Storyteller, and the African American Storytelling Guild. She also helped to establish a youth storytelling club at her local library.
In addition to being a storyteller, Williams is also a published poet and author. She is on the Speaker’s Bureau Roster for the Mississippi Humanities Council. Her work is included in a book of poetry entitled Seasons to Come, as well as in Go, Tell Michelle, African American Women Write to the New First Lady. Her name and biography appear in the book Storytellers -- a Biographical Sketch of 120 English Speaking Tellers from around the World. She has written numerous articles that have appeared in magazines and other publications around the country. Her book, Annie Mae Jumps the Broom is an intermediate children’s book about two slaves who wanted to get married (also on CD and DVD). Her newest releases, The Storytelling Classroom – Applications Across the Curriculum and Literacy Development in the Storytelling Classroom, with co-authors Sherry Norfolk, Jane Stenson and many wonderful contributors, offers an inspiring, practical collection of lesson plans and supportive research on using storytelling in the classroom. Both books have won the Storytelling World Award (2008 and 2010 respectively).
Williams’ previous performances include numerous regional festivals, as well as being a guest artist at libraries, schools and private events around the country. Diane spent four years performing in schools throughout Germany for DODDS (Department of Defense Dependent Schools). She has participated as a storyteller with three symphony orchestras and a chamber orchestra in Mississippi. In addition to collaborations with museums and ballet companies, she has done extensive work on oral history collections, and works with organizations and groups to help them learn to tell their stories. She is a teaching artist and arts educator. She has taught storytelling for the Galef Institute, the Mississippi Alliance for Arts Education, and in residencies at such schools as Millsaps College and Jackson State University.
Williams is currently the Arts Industry Director for the Mississippi Arts Commission, where she works with large non-profit organizations. She is also a host for the agency’s weekly radio program, and travels the state speaking to organizations about the work of the Mississippi Arts Commission.