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Octavia Sexton, Storyteller

Octavia Sexton

A native of Eastern Kentucky, Octavia Sexton grew up hearing folk tales, ghostly “haint” tales, Jack tales, and Cherokee legends her family has been telling for many lifetimes. She also knows life in the Appalachian Mountains well: She attended a one-room school through the 8th grade, married right out of high school, and spent the next 15 years of her life battling poverty. “My husband drove 145 miles round-trip to work for low pay and no benefits,” Octavia recalls. “We lived in a two-room house, hauled our water from a spring, and used an outhouse for our bathroom.”

In hopes of making things easier, Octavia went to college full-time. In 1991, she received her B.A. from Berea College in history education and English. She then worked as an educator for nine years before becoming a full-time storyteller, humorist, motivational speaker, and workshop leader. Today, the programs she presents reflect both the hardships and the joys of her culture—as well as the triumph of her own spirit.

Octavia is a part of the Kentucky Arts Council’s Performing Arts On Tour Directory. She has performed for more than 14 years now and has done numerous art residencies in Kentucky and Ohio schools. She also has published several stories and released two recordings.

Program 411

Ghostly tales and spooky sounds: A special Halloween edition features storytellers Octavia Sexton and Mary Hamilton and a primer on creating sound effects from Joel Timothy. (#411)


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