Whether through music, literature, film, art or dance--when an artist successfully and succinctly communicates their story with originality and distinction, their work transcends the need for entertainment and meets a deeper need within audiences for beauty and enlightenment. Renowned storytellers such as hip-hop artist, Nas, and the late novelist and essayist, James Baldwin, both demonstrate a mastery of cinematic narrative that captures the nuances of their environments and characters, while cultivating an intimate experience through their words. This level of communication, commonly termed as The Art of Storytelling facilitates a communion with audiences through the intimate exchange of truth.
There is a certain amount of nakedness required in the effective communication of a story for both the storyteller and the listener, in the gifting and reception of the truth. At times, as an artist, it can be difficult to decide the best story to tell, while considering the preferences of your audience demographic or the marketplace. Should you focus on a cover or remake of an existing idea or story to achieve a new level of interpretation, or should you create something original or autobiographical? Whatever the chosen vehicle or content, the most important aspect in effective storytelling is in its underlying purpose. When stripped down, is the content leading the audience towards realizing their truth through your story, fictional or autobiographical, or is it resulting in an empty plot or confessional that abandons them to temporary emotions or shock value?
By all accounts, Christ was the ultimate storyteller, given the longevity of his catalogue and the retelling of his parables over the centuries. Whenever his disciples or those seeking his counsel would come to him with a question regarding the Kingdom of Heaven or their individual lives, he would always answer with a parable, versus providing an easy answer. In the process, he successfully dismantled the barriers of a limited perspective, while cultivating critical thinking and a renewed mindset within the listener, as seen with such parables as The Parable of the Talents and The Good Samaritan. With every story and metaphor, he created a roadmap of thoughtlife that anyone seeking the truth during his present and future could travel by to realize their own truth and the truth of their circumstances.
The art and craft of storytelling extends an open invitation to each respective audience towards the revelation of truth and goodness within, in the context of the world we create and live in. Once accepted, the storyteller becomes a guide, leading each listener and audience towards a substantive ending and lasting takeaway that sustains and remains with every engagement going forward.
Vocalist and musician, John Legend, recently shared his thoughts on The Art of Storytelling in an interview in The Wall Street Journal Magazine:
"Every artist has to make a choice about what their story is, what they want to say. Part of what makes a great artist is honesty on all sorts of levels--being honest about what's going on in your mind and how you interact with other people, in love and friendships and family and all sorts of things. The best artists create beautiful work based on their truth, and my truth includes talking about what's happening in the world right now."
Tell your story. Share your truth.