Storyteller Diane Wolkstein Releases Album of Haitian Folktales

Published: July 28th 2010
in Culture » Music

The Magic Orange Tree CD cover

Storyteller Diane Wolkstein is set to release an album comprised of several Haitian folktales, titled The Magic Orange Tree and Other Haitian Folktales (Volume 1), complete with musical accompaniment and interludes (by Shirley Keller).


For more than 30 years, the book version of the same name has been considered a classic for those wanting to learn more about Haiti’s dynamic and resilient culture, and with the recent earthquake shaking the country’s core, the CD could not be arriving at a better time.


In the 1970s, Wolkstein travelled the Haiti countryside, gleaning a collection of more than 400 traditional tales which she then whittled down to 27. In fact, Wolkstein’s work has proven so relevant to Haitian culture that it has been translated back into the original Creole.


According to Raymond Joseph, the Haitian Ambassador to the U.S., Wolkstein “will go down as someone who made Haiti known to children and adults in America and around the world.”


The CD opens with uplifting regional music. Wolkstein then instructs us that when a Haitian storyteller wishes to tell a tale, he or she must say “cric!” to which the audience must respond “crac!” or else the story won’t be told. This invokes the audience’s participation in the story that is about to be regaled, and is a constant throughout the CD, signalling to the listener that a new tale is about to begin.


Wolkstein’s voice is soothing; she speaks by varying her inflection and volume, in accordance with each character and situation.


Songs are embedded in the stories and, along with various phrases, repeated periodically throughout. The CD as a whole takes on a tribal feel, and its simplicity of content and language is remarkably refreshing.


It reminds us that perhaps it’s not so bad to go back to the basics every now and then, allowing ourselves to enjoy a good story for entertainment value, without seeking depth or innuendo.


Ten per cent of all proceeds from The Magic Orange Tree CD sales go directly to the Partners in Health organization, working towards rebuilding Haiti.


The CD will be available September 22, 2010. For more information visit

Related articles: (Haiti, diane wolkstein, storytelling, CD)
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