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Meet Oba William King of JUSTUSarts in DFW

Today we’d like to introduce you to Oba William King.

Oba, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I am a Traditional Folk Artist, more commonly know as a Storyteller. Following four years of Military Service (Army) I returned to my family home in San Bernardino, California, and, immediately got a role in a local play, one of the college students produced as her graduation project. I enjoyed that experience, Soon after, I spent time with family, and then I was hired to move to Lompoc, Ca to work for the telephone company. During my time traveling from San Bernardino to Lompoc.

One day, I stopped in Santa Barbara to eat at the surf and turf, Dancers from the Santa Barbara City College, they were eating at the surf and turf… I became very interested in where they were going, and when we arrived at the Dance Department of SBCC – Kay Fulton was the Dean of Dance, and she said, “Either, get in here or get away from my DOOR!” – I went in, and 3months later I was a featured dancer in the year-end recital, Later that summer I was the stage manager for Kay’s rendition of ” For Colored Girls” and then she introduced me to Joe Hanreedy who Produced the Shakespeare Play, Midsummer Night’s Dream.

My Journey to DFW includes the decision to move to Chicago, Illinois- where I worked for the 1st African American Advertising Agency ” Burrell” in the Country during which time I met and learned from Dorothy Height, Dr. Margret Burroughs, Gwendolyn Brooks – who honored me by stating – I Can Listen to “this one Talk All Day” in front of a crowd of Poets at Spices Jazz Bar ( influenced Love Jones ). I was mentored by Okoro Harold Johnson (1st Black Soap Opera) Sam Greenlee (The Spook Who Sat By The Door) and Oscar Brown Jr (Jazz lyricist legend)

During my time in Chicago, I had the opportunity to be MC of Rituals Rhythms ( Def Poetry Jam-farm), and I received a Fellowship from Illinois Arts Council, for Traditional Folk Arts, and a Master Apprentice Grant to study with Oscar Brown Jr. – I worked at DuSable Museum, creating Cultural Arts Programs and based my educational entertainment program in Peoples Housing under the direction of Tom Tresser.

Four years ago, Cedar Hill Library Director, Toni Simmons -invited me to perform in Texas, 18 mos later, George Bush Presidential library invited me to College Station for Juneteenth, Ft Worth invited me to present ” Holidays Around the World for 17 of their inner-city, rural and downtown libraries. It was during that time the Forest Hill. Public library gained an interest in my work and asked if I would move here, Manage the Library’s cultural arts program needs and live in Forest Hill. I said, yes and now one year later, I’ve been accepted as an Approved Vendor for FW ISD. I am A Storyteller, AKA The Poetic Storyteller. AKA Small Town Storyteller, AKA Oba William King.

Upcoming Events:
-King Day Chicago History Museum 1/21February 14 Dallas, Tx w/ NABSINC.ORD and African American Educators
-February 11 Cedar Hill, Tx – Black History Month- presentation of Story and Poetry
-February 17-20 Daniel Boone Regional Library
-March 27 – 30th Bethlehem, NJ – Moravian Academy
-April 21 -22 Clean Water Celebration – Peoria, Il
-May 2 Shakopee Women’s Prison Minnesota Program
-June 9-15 – ASIW Peoria, Il
-July 22- 28 International Storytelling Center Jonesborough Tn
-September 25-29 Minneapolis, Mn Signifyin & Testifyn
-November 5-11 Montgomery, Ala

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I got married in 2002. We had a daughter in 2003 and endured court for visitation nearly most of my young daughter’s like. Recently in November, the Court decided that my ex was practicing Parental Alienation. Now we are ordered to participate in Therapeutic Reunification.

JUSTUSarts – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
JUSTUSarts is educational entertainment. Our primary goal is to engage students in cultural arts, through reading, writing, reciting, speaking and presenting artistic creativity through all levels of public schools Pre-K – 12, libraries, churches and community service organizations. I have several college student level presentations, but primarily I like to work with Family Audiences.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
• Being invited back to a venue or a facility, because of the quality of the initial presentation/program for which they hired me.
• Hearing from former workshop participants who say… “Hey, I remember You because…”

• Hearing from Parents who say… You did “This or That,” and it helped my child…

• But the greatest is when, a Former Student, brings Their Child to one of my programs because They remembered how much it meant to “Them” when They were young…

• When a young adult, involved in a similar field of writing and reciting: Spoken Word, Poetry, Storytelling or Dramasays… Are you interested in being a mentor?

Contact Info:

Getting in touch: VoyageDallas is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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