Ray and Orville Hicks, Storytellers of North Carolina

and Other Storytellers from the Hicks-Harmon Family

Bibliography compiled by Tina L. Hanlon

Audio & Video Storytelling - Orville Hicks Audio & Video Storytelling - Ray Hicks Print & Online Resources
Ray Hicks (left in photo) and Orville Hicks tell stories at Blue Ridge Institute Folklife Festival, Ferrum College, VA, October 1995

At right, Jerry Harmon, Ray Hicks's second cousin, on the same stage, Oct. 2007

Photos by Tina L. Hanlon and Lana A. Whited

Appalachian Folktale Bibliography Index

Appalachian Folktales in Film, Drama,
and Storytelling Recordings

Ray Hicks passed away Easter Sunday, April 20, 2003, at age 80. See Appalshop's In Memoriam page with obituary, photos and audio and video links. For information on the Ray and Rosa Hicks fund (established to assist the Hicks family during Ray's illness), as well as past and upcoming Jack Tales Festivals held in their honor in NC, see the page The Latest Tale by Dianne Hackworth in Dianne's Storytelling Site.

Audio and Video Storytelling - Orville Hicks

Hicks, Orville. Carryin’ On: Jack Tales for Children of All Ages. 1 Audio cassette. Whitesburg, KY:  June Appal Recordings, 1990. Includes "Born and Raised" (1:05) --" Jack and the Three Sillies" (9:20) -- "Wicked John" (7:23) -- "Present Need, Hereafter, and By and By" (11:51) -- "Jack and the Heifer's Hide" (11:52) -- "The Man in the Moon" (3:37) -- "Fill Bowl, Fill" (7:18). Background folk music performed by Don Mussell, fiddle; D.G. White, banjo and guitar; Morgan Sexton, banjo. Recorded at Appalshop--Feb. 6/7 1990. "Fill, Bowl, Fill" is transcribed in McCarthy, William Bernard, ed. Cinderella in America: A Book of Folk and Fairy Tales. Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2007. pp. 352-56, with notes on the teller and variants of this tale. McCarthy discusses Richard Chase's influence on this version, after Chase learned it from a Hicks relative, Marshall Ward. In chapter 13 on The Hicks-Harmon Beech Mountain Tradition, one of two chapters in this book focusing on tales from the Southern mountains. See tales listed at Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit.

Hicks, Orville. Mule Egg Seller and Appalachian Storyteller. Compact Disc. Boone, NC: Orville Hicks, 1998. Contains A. A Tale-telling Session -- 1. Orville's Introduction (0:37) -- 2. Mama's Storytelling (0:55) -- 3. Mule Eggs (4:23) -- 4. Hardest Whipping (2:01) -- 5. Jack and the Varmints (15:15) -- 6. Declaration of Independence (0:54) -- 7. Red Devil Suit (1:26) -- 8. Dividing the Congregation (1:14) -- 9. Daddy's Strictness and Religion (0:45) -- 10. Little Boy and his Pet Duck (3:51) -- 11. Two Uncles and their Horses (1:33) -- 12. Momma's Tales and Singing (1:01) -- 13. Orville's Tales and his Tape (0:29) -- B. Selected Tales, Jokes, and Anecdotes -- 14. Growing Up in the Mountains (4:58) -- Jack and the Heifer Hide (20:35) -- Lie-Hew Yonce and Storytelling (3:22) -- Orville and Hunting (0:34) -- Uglied Them to Death (1:18) -- Bear Hunt (1:29) -- Storytelling and the Future (1:56). Liner notes (17 pp.) by Thomas McGowan and bibliography inserted into container. Project supported by a grant from the North Carolina Arts Council and administered by Appalachian State University.

See "Appalachian Faculty Work with Noted Local Storyteller." Appalachian State University News, 31 Aug. 2004, on English professors working with Hicks to revise this CD, adding material on Ray Hicks, including "The Ballad of Ray Hicks," which Orville wrote for Ray's funeral.

"Jack and the Doctor's Girl." The Jack Tales Festival. 2002. Also includes "Big Jack & Little Jack" by Connie Regan-Blake, "Jack's First House" by David Joe Miller, Jack & the Frogs by Dianne Hackworth, and Mutsmag by Charlotte Ross. Videotape from the 4th annual festival to benefit the Ray and Rosa Hicks fund, August 17, 2002, at Bolick Pottery and Traditions Pottery, near Blowing Rock, NC. For more information, see page The Latest Tale. . . . by Dianne Hackworth in Dianne's Storytelling Site, or call 336-877-4110.

Mountain Tales. Watauga County Library and High Country Yarnspinners Storytelling Guild, 1998. "This video includes 2 hours of tales from the Appalachian Region." Hicks tells "Red Devil Suit," Jack and the Varmints," "Two Uncles and Their Horses," "Jack and the Three Sillies." Dianne Hackworth tells "Here's To Cheshire," "The Hoe Handle, Snake, and Barn," "Old Dry Frye," "Chipper." Charlotte Ross tells "Catherine Sherrill" and "The Cabin." Info. with photos at Hackworth's web site.

Top of Page

Audio and Video Storytelling and Music - Ray Hicks

Appalachian Journey. Film by Alan Lomax, Association for Cultural Equity, 1991. 56 min. Available as free streaming video at Folkstreams.Net. Performances by Ray and Stanley Hicks and other southern Appalachians. For more detail on the film in AppLit, see bibliography of Storytelling Films and Recordings.

Appalachian Storyteller Series. Derry, NH: Chip Taylor Communications, n.d. Five Ray Hicks films produced by Luke Barrow, available in different formats. DVD 2007.

A Film About Ray Hicks, Beech Mountain, NC. 16mm Film (19 min.). Produced by Dr. Thomas G. Burton and Jack Schrader. Johnson City, Tenn: East Tenn. State Univ., 1974. "Portrays a mountain man, Ray Hicks of Beech Mountain, North Carolina, his close ties to the land, and his heritage. Shows Hicks and his family gathering herbs, reaping buckwheat, and living a century-old way of life, while at the same time, modern influences begin to affect his children" (WorldCat). Opening narration by Ralph Crass.

Digital Library of Appalachia. Appalachian College Association. A collection of digital reproductions of print, visual, audio and video items from archives in colleges affiliated with ACA. Includes audio of storytellers such as Ray Hicks and Loyal Jones telling Jack Tales, and tales collected in 1949 and published by Leonard Roberts.

Fixin' to Tell About Jack. Dir. Elizabeth Barrett. Whitesburg, KY: Appalshop, 1974. 25 minutes. A film depicting Ray talking and working at his home, with a retelling of Whickety-Whack, Into my Sack. See details in Appalshop catalog and Appalshop links to video clips of Ray discussing life and Jack Tales, with clip of "Whickety-Whack."

Hicks, Ray. "Hardy Hardhead." Brief audio clip in Remembering Ray Hicks. April 21, 2003. All Things Considered. NPR.org. With eloquent comments on listening to Hicks by Bill Harley.

Hicks, Ray. Jack Alive! 1 Audio Cassette. Also Compact Disc (56 minutes). Whitesburg, KY: June Appal Recordings, 1989. "Presents Ray Hicks recorded live from his home on Beech Mountain in North Carolina telling his personal stories, jokes, anecdotes, and philosophical insights woven together in a unique conversational skein. Includes a portrait of rural life of special interest to literary scholars, linguists, oral historians, folklorists, and social scientists" (WorldCat). Contents: The Witch on Stone Mountain (26:17) -- The Hen Cackle (harmonica, 1:20) -- The Sign was in the Knees (4:53) -- The Vision of the Automobile Engine (5:16) -- Short Life in Trouble (song, 1:31) -- The Mountain Fortuneteller, Callie Brown (10:46) -- Meeting the Devil (5:00). Program notes (16 pp., ill.) included in container. Recorded on Beech Mountain, N.C. between July 1987 and Jan. 1989. Links on titles here are to audio clips on Appalshop's Ray Hicks memorial page. "Meeting the Devil" is personal testimony about being spoken to by the devil and the Lord.

Hicks, Ray. Jack Tales. 1 Audio cassette. Sharon, Conn:  Folk-Legacy Records, 1963. Includes Jack and the Three Steers (hear audio clip at Folk-Legacy web site)-- Big Man Jack, Killed Seven at a Whack -- Jack and the Old Fire Dragon -- Whickety-Whack, into my Sack.

Hicks, Ray. The Jack Tales. Illus. Owen Smith. New York: Calloway, 2000. Picture book (see below) is sold with CD of Hicks telling "Jack and the North-West Wind," "Jack and the Bean Tree," and "Jack and the Robbers." Book includes glossary of mountain terms and background on Ray Hicks as North Carolina storyteller, a master of the native oral tradition. Hicks' oral tellings are not identical to the written text in every detail, inviting interesting comparison of oral and written versions of the same tale.

Hicks, Ray. Ray Hicks Telling Four Traditional Jack Tales. LP. Sharon, Conn: Folk-Legacy Records, 1964. CD. 2002. Jack and the Three Steers -- Big Man Jack, Killed Seven at a Whack -- Jack and Old Fire Dragon -- Whickety-Whack, into my Sack. Biographical notes by Sandy Paton on container; notes concerning the recording by Paton, transcriptions of the texts by Lee B. Haggerty, and "A Note on Ray Hicks' Speech, by Cratis Williams" (17 pp.) inserted.

Hicks, Ray and Luke Borrow. Cat and Mouse. Vidocassette (30 minutes). Appalachian Storyteller Ray Hicks Series. Part 2. Derry, NH: Chip Taylor Communications, 1997. DVD 2003. Produced by Luke Barrow, Fandangle Films. "Here Jack has to do all he can to help a young girl overcome the magic spell a wicked witch placed on her by turning her into a cat" (WorldCat). Based on Richard Chase's The Jack Tales. See Appalachian Storyteller Series above to purchase from Chip Taylor Communications.

Hicks, Ray and Luke Borrow. Jack and the Fire Dragon. Vidocassette (20 minutes). Appalachian Storyteller Ray Hicks Series. Part 3. Derry, NH: Chip Taylor Communications, 1997. DVD 2003. Produced by Luke Barrow, Fandangle Films.Based on Richard Chase's The Jack Tales. See Appalachian Storyteller Series above to purchase from Chip Taylor Communications.

Hicks, Ray and Luke Borrow. Jack and the Robbers. Vidocassette (20 minutes). Appalachian Storyteller Ray Hicks Series. Part 4. Derry, NH: Chip Taylor Communications, 1997. DVD 2003. Produced by Luke Barrow, Fandangle Films. Based on Richard Chase's The Jack Tales. See Appalachian Storyteller Series above to purchase from Chip Taylor Communications.

Hicks, Ray and Luke Borrow. Music. Vidocassette (20 minutes). Appalachian Storyteller Ray Hicks Series. Part 5. Derry, NH: Chip Taylor Communications, 1997. Produced by Luke Barrow, Fandangle Films. "Some people call it mountain music, others describe it as hillbilly music. No matter what name it goes by, true Blue Ridge Mountain music is hearing Ray Hicks when he sings (with and without his harmonica) legendary American folk songs, such as Casey Jones, John Henry and Reuben Train" (WorldCat).

Hicks, Ray and Luke Borrow. My Life I've Traveled the Mountains. Vidocassette (28 minutes). Derry, NH: Chip Taylor Communications, 1997. "A biography of the famed storyteller, including scenes of where and how he lives, and a performance at the National Storytelling Festival" (WorldCat). See Appalachian Storyteller Series above to purchase from Chip Taylor Communications.

Hicks, Ray, and Mike Abernathy. A Visit with Ray Hicks, Appalachian Storyteller. VHS tape. [North Carolina]: Cathead Biscuit Productions, 1999.

Mountain Talk. Dir. Neal Hutcheson. Executive Producers Walt Wolfram and James W. Clark. Narrated by Gary Carden. North Carolina Language and Life Project and NC State Humanities Extension Publications, 2003. Contains hundreds of interviews on language and life of Appalachia, including storytellers such as Orville Hicks.

Ray & Rosa Hicks: The Last of the Old-Time Storytellers. Videocassette & DVD (56 min.). Produced by Charles & Jane Hadley, Queens College, Charlotte, NC, 2000. Narrator, Ed Grady; Writer, Jim Kelton; Editor, Austin Walker. "Presents one year in the lives of Ray Hicks, the patriarch of American storytellers, and his wife, Rosa. Ray Hicks is renowned for telling Jack Tales, episodic narratives that were brought to America by immigrants from the British Isles" (WorldCat). This link at Queens College Dept. of English goes to photos from the filming (link not functioning 4/12/09). Storytellers such as Jay O'Callahan, Connie Regan-Blake, Willa Brigham, and Kathy Coleman, and scholars such as Glenn Hinson, William E. Lightfoot, and Rex Ellis discuss storytelling and the Hicks' family history, lifestyle, folklore, and many hardships they overcame. Hinson discusses storytelling as performance vs. storytelling for one's family and friends, making everyday life sparkle like the artistry of Rosa's cooking. The video says their life is more interesting than a Jack tale. "Ray projects the hardships of his own life into his tales about Jack"—for example, memories of his mother crying because they had no food. He talks about his mother instilling will power, perseverance and resourcefulness into him. He is a good talker, not just a storyteller. He is sophisticated because he is at home in his own culture and is always himself. He is moved and amused by the Jack tales because he knows they are real. He grew up in the woods and learned about nature from his "Indian background" (he had a Cherokee great-grandmother). He and Rosa explain names and uses of plants. Lightfoot discusses the Harmons from Germany and the Hickses from England. The Harmons most likely knew similar German tales like the ones brought from England. Ray's cousin Frank Proffitt, Jr. is mentioned. A fortuneteller predicted Ray's marriage to Rosa and the beginning of his public storytelling in his 40s. He began at an elementary school in the 1960s, then appeared at the first National Storytelling Festival in 1972. Regan-Blake describes how his stiffness melted his first time behind a Jonesborough microphone as soon as he began talking, and he became Jack. The interest of outsiders in Appalachia brought resources that allowed people to pay their property taxes. The Hicks family's annual trip to the Jonesborough festival is depicted, including their selling of objects they made, such as a dancing doll, and Ray and Rosa together on stage. At an Old Christmas service in a Presbyterian church, Ray tells about childhood experiences in hard times that he can still feel. Nearby high school students visit them on their 50th anniversary. Songs in the video are listed at the end.

Ray Hicks. Vidocassette (1 hour 30 min.) Will Rogers, 1975. Black and white.

Regan-Blake, Connie. "Ray's Amazing Grace." 9:40 mins. In Dive-Into Stories: A Telling Performance. Audio CD. Asheville, NC: Storywindow Productions, 2006. Regan-Blake tells of her close friendship with the Hicks family after she met Ray at the first National Storytelling Festival in 1973. She emphasizes his nonstop talking and storytelling whenever she visited his home. She also tells of his final illness and the "amazing grace" of his miraculous ability to fix machines in times of urgent need. Alan Weinstein of the Kandkinsky Trio plays solo cello during this selection. This CD also includes "The Foolish Bet," a fishing tall tale, and several heart-warming stories.

Sobol, Joseph. See Sobol, Joseph. "'Whistlin’ Towards the Devil’s House,'" below, which gives an audio recording of Ray Hicks telling "Wicked John and the Devil."

Storytelling the National Festival. 2 LPs (c. 95 min.). Also in 2 Audio cassettes (116 min.), Jonesborough, Tenn.: National Association for the Preservation and Perpetuation of Storytelling, 1983. Includes "Great Splash" by Ray Hicks (1 min., 7 sec.).

Tall Tales of the Blue Ridge Mountains: Stories From the Heart of Appalachia. Ray Hicks, Donald Davis, Sparky Rucker. Dir. Phillip Williams. Videocassette. Asheville, NC: Eastern National Park and Monument Association, 1992. c. 42 min. Music by Sparky and Rhonda Rucker. Jean Haskell Speer of E. Tenn. State Univ. introduces Appalachian storytelling and the three NC storytellers. She calls Hicks a "repository of ancient tales, local lore, and distinctive mountain speech." Hicks was filmed at his mountain home with his wife and others around the kitchen table, telling two first-person tall tales. First is a hunting story in which he jokes about the prey making the mistake of landing on his shoulder. The second is about gathering apples during the long walks of his youth. He claims the apple tree acted as if it was trying to get its apples back, like a dying person who doesn't want others to get his property.

Voices of Memory. Authors John Morgan and Richard Smith. Performers Greg Jowasis, Jim Slone, Stanley Hicks, Ray Hicks, Bob Hutchison. Videocassette (60 min.). Lexington, KY: The Kentucky Network, 1989. Summary: "Focuses on the importance of the oral tradition as the only voice of a people's memory, specifically the Cherokee Indians."

Top of Page

Print and Online Resources

See also Appalachian Folktales:  Background Resources

Allen, Lucy. Review of Mule Egg Seller and Appalachian Storyteller by Orville Hicks. North Carolina Folklore Journal, vol. 45, no. 2 (Summer-Fall 1998).

"Appalachian Faculty Work with Noted Local Storyteller." Appalachian State University News, 31 Aug. 2004. Discusses English professors working with Orville Hicks to revise his CD, Mule Egg Seller and Appalachian Storyteller, adding material on Ray Hicks, including "The Ballad of Ray Hicks," which Orville wrote for Ray's funeral.

"Appalachian Influence Reaches Mainstream America."  Mast Store Ledger: A Rural Publication of the Mast General Store. Valle Crucis, NC.Oct. 2003.Article contains several paragraphs on Jack Tales and good picture of Ray Hicks telling tales.

Appalachian-Scottish and Irish Studies Collection. Archival materials (8 boxes). Archives of Appalachia, East Tenn. State University, 1957, 1997. Includes material on Ray Hicks and Jack Tales. "Collection focuses on the history and culture of Appalachia, Scotland and Northern Ireland, and interrelationships among the 3 regions regarding their histories and cultures. . . . Organized into 5 series: I, Course Materials, 1976-97; II, Student Papers & Projects, 1988-95; III, Photographs, 1988-97; IV, Audio Recordings, 1957-97; and V, Video Recordings, 1987-94./ Arrangement varies, but chronologically follows year of each program. Materials within a series may predate beginning of program. . . .Unpublished finding aid available in repository" (WorldCat). Copying and borrowing of materials is restricted.

Appalachian Studies Challenge Grant Awarded by NEH. Includes photo of Orville Hicks with crowd of children, representing programs of Appalachian Cultural Museum, Appalachian State Univ.

Baldwin, Lisa. Jack, Alive and Well on Beech Mountain in Western North Carolina: The Cultural Traditions of Ted Hicks. M.A. thesis. Boone, NC: Appalachian State University, 2010.

Barbara McDermitt Collection. Archives of Appalachia, East Tenn. State University, 1982. "Includes 28 audiotapes of storytellers telling folktales. Recorded the summer of 1982 during field trips to Beech Mountain, N.C. File folder with reports on the field trips stored with the tapes. The 14 photographs are mainly of the storytellers, who include Frank Proffitt, Jr., Stanley Hicks, Ray Hicks, and Hattie Presnell. . . . Barbara Rice Damron McDermitt . . . Educator, folklorist, and author of articles on storytelling, drama, and children's literature. Ph. D. (1968) from School of Scottish Studies, Edinburgh, Scotland" (WorldCat).

Berea College Sound Archives. Hutchins Library, Berea, KY. "Appalachian writing and scholarship is represented in interviews and lectures by such figures as Wendell Berry, Harry Caudill, Muriel Dressler, Wilma Dykeman, Helen Lewis, Jim Wayne Miller, Artus Moser, Gurney Norman, Leonard Roberts, Henry Scalf, James Still, Jesse Stuart, Don West, Cratis Williams, and Jess Wilson. . . . Storytelling and humor is represented by such able practitioners as Richard Chase, Loyal Jones, Ray Hicks, Maude Long, Patrick Napier, Leonard Roberts, Beverly Sexton, Jackie Torrence, and Marshall Long. The collection also includes recordings of the Appalachian Humor Festival held at Berea in 1983, 1987, and 1990." Eastern Kentucky Folklore includes recordings by Leonard Roberts. Some items available online through Digital Library of Appalachia.

Best-Loved Stories Told at the National Storytelling Festival. Jonesborough, TN: National Storytelling Press and Little Rock, AK: August House, 1991. 223 pp. Has 37 tales, including "The Day the Cow Ate my Britches" by Ray Hicks.

Brown-Hudson Folklore Awards. Information on the awards established 1970 by the NC Folklore Society, with list of recipients, including Ray Hicks, 1985, and Orville Hicks, 1997.

Chase, Nan. "Ray Hicks: The Mysterious Healer." Appalachian Heritage, vol. 32: 2 (Spring 2004): 38-45. MLA Bibliography subject headings: folk belief systems; folk medicine; faith healing; role of Hicks, Ray (1922-2003).

Chesky, Anne E. “Orville Hicks in Two Books: A Review Essay.” North Carolina Folklore Journal, vol. 56, no. 1 (Spring-Summer 2009): 41-48. Review of Jack Tales and Mountain Yarns as Told by Orville Hicks (2009), and Orville Hicks: Mountain Stories, Mountain Roots (2005).

Childers, Brent. "Mountain Tales Spellbind Burke." Hickory Daily Record 26 Feb. 1985. (no page no.) With photos by Margaret Moore of Stanley Hicks spinning "his yarns "while children hand spellbound on every word at WPCC." Article describes Stanley Hicks's performance of tale, songs, dance and instrumental music at age 73, before a large crowd at Western Piedmont Community College on Monday. Mentions Richard Chase visiting Beech Mt. in early 1940s after listening to R. M. Ward. Stanley telling for audiences around the country since 1973, says he's getting too old to do much but needs the money and loves the people. Visting artist Frank Proffitt, nephew, played the dulcimer. He tells of scaring a lady with "The Big Toe." although she said she wouldn't scare. Smithsonian searching the tellers and honoring them. In Oxford collection.

Deparle, Jason. "Mountain Voices Share Ageless, Magic Tales." The New York Times 22 June, 1982. See The New York Times Archives online (or perhaps Lexis-Nexus) if you have trouble with this link. Profile of Ray Hicks, including description of Hicks telling a long story about courting his wife and Hicks telling "Fill, Bowl, Fill." Quotes Bill Lightfoot, Appalachian State Univ. folklorist, and Bess Lomax Hawes, a folklorist retired from the National Endowment for the Arts. The article stresses that Hicks saw the stories as full of love, not excessive deception, and that they should be told for joy and wisdom, to help with living, not for money. One of the article's statements about the Grimm Brothers collecting Jack tales in 1812 seems a little misleading, although many Appalachian Jack tales have antecedents and parallels in German folktales.

Digital Library of Appalachia. Appalachian College Association. A collection of digital reproductions of print, visual, audio and video items from archives in colleges affiliated with ACA. Includes audio of storytellers such as Ray Hicks and Loyal Jones telling Jack Tales, audio versions of tales collected in 1949 and published by Leonard Roberts.

Doon, Bonny. "Ray Hicks at his home on Beech Mountain, North Carolina May 1990." Personal photos and reminiscences. Broadcasting Engineering Services web site.

Do You Speak American? Episode 2. Transcript of PBS series, with linguist Walt Wolfram, includes clip with Ray Hicks and his wife from earlier PBS series The Story of English. MacNeil/Lehrer Productions, 2005.

Ebel, Julia Taylor. Orville Hicks: Mountain Stories, Mountain Roots. Winston-Salem, NC: John F. Blair, 2006. "A biography for ages 8 to adult," based on extensive conversations with members of the Hicks family. Short chapters on different topics in Orville's life and career, with many photographs, a map of Beech Mountain, and a linoleum print by Gail E. Haley of "Jack and his Maw." Includes text of "My Old Mountain Home," a poem about his childhood and the making of this book (p. v), and "The Ballad of Ray Hicks" by Orville (June 23, 2001, pp. 100-101). Discusses tales told by Orville's mother Sarah Hicks and material on Ray and Rosa Hicks. Also includes a short tale about his uncle's very foolish treatment of their horses. See page on this book and study guide in Julia Taylor Ebel's web site.

Fine, Elizabeth C. Review of Mule Egg Seller and Appalachian Storyteller by Orville Hicks and Thomas McGowan. Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, vol. 17, no. 2 (Summer 2000).

Grizzle, Ralph Edward. "Orville Hicks." In Ralph Grizzle's Online Portfolio. A short sketch on Orville Hicks, including a brief tale about two foolish uncles. In web site Ralph Edward Grizzle: Free-lance Writer, Author.

Haase, Donald, ed. The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Folktales and Fairy Tales. 3 vols. Westport, Conn: Greenwood Press, 2008. See entries "Beech Mountain Jack Tale" by Thomas McGowan, "Jack Tales" and "North American Tales" by William Bernard McCarthy, and "Storytelling" by Joseph Daniel Sobol.

Harmon, Jerry. See Jerry Harmon, below, and McCandless and Manheim entries below.

Harvey, Todd. "Jack Tales and Their Tellers in the Archive of Folk Culture." Folklife Center News (Library of Congress) 25, No. 4 (Fall 2003): 7-10. Other articles in this newsletter refer to Appalachian storytelling also. The print and pdf. versions of this newsletter contain photos of Ray Hicks at the National Storytelling Festival and at his home.

Hepler, Susan. Review of The Jack Tales by Ray Hicks and Lynn Salsi. School Library Journal, vol. 46 (Nov 2000): p. 142. Short review available online through library services such as Academic Index ASAP.

Hicks, Orville. "Fill, Bowl, Fill" (from recording Carryin' On, see above) is transcribed in McCarthy, William Bernard, ed. Cinderella in America: A Book of Folk and Fairy Tales. Jackson: Univ. Press of Mississippi, 2007. pp. 352-56, with notes on the teller and variants of this tale. McCarthy discusses Richard Chase's influence on this version, after Chase learned it from a Hicks relative, Marshall Ward. In chapter 13 on The Hicks-Harmon Beech Mountain Tradition, one of two chapters in this book focusing on tales from the Southern mountains. See tales listed at Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit.

Hicks, Orville. Orville Hicks Official Website. Contains photos, short biography, list of awards, and full text of "Jack and the Robbers" and some jokes.

Hicks, Orville. Internet Underground Music Archive. Biography, pictures of Orville Hicks, comments sent in by readers, and an audio telling of "Two Uncles and their Horses."

Hicks, Orville. Page with photo at The North Carolina Touring Artists Directory web site, with booking info.

Hicks, Orville, and Julia Taylor Ebel. Jack Tales and Mountain Yarns, As Told By Orville Hicks. Illus. Sherry Jenkins Jensen. Boone, NC: Parkway Publishers, 2009. Afterword by Thomas McGowan. 189 pp. More than twenty tales transcribed by Ebel during her extensive association with Hicks, as well as tributes and biographical material on the popular Beech Mountain storyteller. Includes photographs and many pencil drawings by Jensen. Texts of folk songs and riddles also appear, as well as stories written by Hicks that had not been told publicly, including one in his own handwriting. Some of the tales are about people and folkways in his own family history. Hicks discusses Jack and inserts comments on his favorites and his family's responses to different tales. Contains a glossary with notes on Orville's words and grammar, a study guide section with discussion questions and activities, and bibliographic material. See illustration and background at Ebel's web site. See description related to the 2009 Aesop Accolade awarded to this book by the American Folklore Society. See also AppLit's list of Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit.

Hicks, Orville, and Thomas McGowan. “Remembering Ray Hicks.” North Carolina Folklore Journal, vol. 50, nos. 1-2 (Spring/Summer - Fall/Winter 2003): pp. 12-17.

Hicks, Ray. "The Day the Cow Ate my Britches." Best-Loved Stories Told at the National Storytelling Festival. Jonesborough, TN: National Storytelling Press and Little Rock: August House, 1991.

Hicks, Ray. “Jack and Old Fire Dragon.” In McCarthy, William Bernard, ed. Cinderella in America: A Book of Folk and Fairy Tales. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, 2007. pp. 346-52, with notes on the teller and tale types. From a 1985 recording in the Thomas G. Burton Collection at East Tennessee State University. In chapter 13 on The Hicks-Harmon Beech Mountain Tradition, one of two chapters in this book focusing on tales from the Southern mountains. McCarthy notes that the plot with an underground journey and three princesses is common in both English-speaking American and Hispanic traditions. The book demonstrates that American folktales, from Revolutionary times to the present, should not be viewed as watered-down versions of tales from older cultures. See tales listed at Folktale Collections Indexed in AppLit.

Hicks, Ray. "Jack and the Three Steers." In Jack Tales: A Project of the Media Working Group. The Media Working Group web site was produced by a multi-media urban oral history project in the Covington, KY-Cincinnati area.

Hicks, Ray. "Jack and the Three Steers" (1963) and "Whickity Whack" (composite of tellings from 1973 and 1974). In McGowan, Thomas, ed. "Four Beech Mountain Jack Tales." North Carolina Folklore Journal 49.2 (Fall/Winter 2002): 69-115. Reprinted in honor of Thomas McGowan from vol. 26.2 (1978). Also includes Marshall Ward's "Jack and the Heifer Hide," with a long introduction by Ward about his family's storytelling traditions (both collected 1977) and "Cat 'n Mouse" (1944). McGowan gives notes on parallel versions and sources.

Hicks, Ray. "Jack and the Three Steers" More Best-Loved Stories Told at the National Storytelling Festival. Jonesborough, TN: National Storytelling Press, 1992. Contents of the book listed at Story-Lovers web site.

Hicks, Ray. The Jack Tales.  As told to Lynn Salsi. Illus. Owen Smith. New York: Calloway, 2000. Picture book is sold with CD of Hicks telling "Jack and the North-West Wind," "Jack and the Bean Tree," and "Jack and the Robbers." Book includes glossary of mountain terms and background on Ray Hicks, a master of the native oral tradition. Hicks' oral tellings are not identical to the written text in every detail, inviting interesting comparison of oral and written versions of the same tale. Both full-page color illustrations and smaller black and white drawings are somewhat reminiscent of the style of Thomas Hart Benton. Available as a printable, digital e-book, 2003. See also page on this book by a Louisiana State University Librarian (link not available 11/5/05).

Hicks, Ronda L, and Thomas G. Burton. Beech Mountain Man: The Memoirs of Ronda Lee Hicks. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2009. Story of the often violent life and storytelling talents of one member of the Hicks family, a cousin of Ray and Orville Hicks.

Higgs, Robert J., Ambrose N. Manning, and Jim Wayne Miller, eds.  Appalachia Inside Out:  A Sequel to Voices from the Hills.  2 vols. Knoxville:  U of TN Pr, 1995.  Essays, stories, and poems on all aspects of Appalachian studies, including folklore, humor, and education. Vol. 2 chap. 4, Dialect and Language, contains two essays on storyteller Ray Hicks and a copy of "Whickety Whack: Death in a Sack" as told by Hicks.

Holt, David. "Ray Hicks at Home." Photos by David Holt in Holt's web site.

Isbell, Robert. Ray Hicks: Master Storyteller of the Blue Ridge. Foreword by Wilma Dykeman. Chapel Hill: University of NC Press, 2001. Originally published: The Last Chivaree: The Hicks family of Beech Mountain, 1996.  Includes the text of "Jack and the North-West Wind" and "Jack and the Three Sillies" by Ray, "The Good Man and the Bad Man" by Orville, a family tree and bibliography. 175 pp. Reviewed by Bill Ellis in Appalachian Journal, vol. 24 (Winter 1997).

Jack and Grandfather Tales, page with photo and blurb on Orville Hicks. Old Handed Down Tales has picture of Ray Hicks with information on Chase and Jack Tales. Web pages of Appalachian Cultural Museum, Appalachian State Univ., 2001. In the museum is "a video of Ray and Stanley Hicks, award-winning story-tellers from Banner Elk, talking about story-telling in general, and Jack Tales in particular."

Jerry Harmon: "Smoky Mountain Rambler." Web site of a son of Benjamin Harmon and great-great grandson of Council Harmon, who brought the Jack Tales from England in the early nineteenth century. Includes information on his influences, songs, stories, and performances; reviews; photos; and audio files of a couple songs and two tales: "Jack and the Kings' Daughters" and "Jack in the Giants' New Ground." (At right, Jerry Harmon at Ferrum College Folklife Festival, Oct. 2007, photo by Lana A. Whited)

Keding, Dan. “Ray Hicks: 1922-2003.” Sing Out! 47 (Fall 2003): pp. 213-15.

Kelley, Saundra G., ed. Southern Appalachian Storytellers: Interviews with Sixteen Keepers of the Oral Tradition. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2011. "To be from Appalachia—to be at home there and to love it passionately—informs the narratives of each of the sixteen storytellers featured in this work. Their stories are rich in the lore of the past, influenced by family, especially grandparents, and the ancient mountains they saw every day of their lives as they were growing up." Rosa Hicks and Ted Hicks are two of the storytellers.

Kelsey, Paul. The Jack Tales. Web page by a Reference Librarian, Louisiana State University, with background on Ray Hicks's 2001 picture book and some suggestions for teachers.

Kinkead, Gwen. "An Overgrown Jack." The New Yorker. 18 July 1988: 33-41. A profile of Ray Hicks. (Only abstract available in the magazine's online archive in May 2008.)

Leonard, Phillip Randolph. Mystics, Dreamers and Fancies: Ray Hicks and the Jack Tale Traditions on Beech Mountain. M. A. Thesis. Radford University, 1992.

Lindahl, Carl, ed. American Folktales: From the Collections of the Library of Congress. Vol.1  Armonk NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2004. Includes Jack tales, magic tales, legends, jokes, tall tales, "stories for children," and personal narratives transcribed from recordings. The tales by Ray Hicks are "Jack and the Robbers," "The Unicorn and the Wild Boar," "The Witch Woman on the Stone Mountain on the Tennessee Side," "Grinding at the Mill," and "Mule Eggs." Other storytellers, some related to the Hicks family, include Samuel Harmon, Maud Long,  Jane Muncy Fugate, Aunt Molly Jackson, and others. See Table of Contents at this link to publisher's page.

MacCandless, Colin. "A Family Tradition: Entertainer Helps Preserve Appalachian Storytelling Heritage." The Franklin Press Online [Macon County, NC] 10/05/07. Article on Jerry Harmon and his family tradition of storytelling and singing.

McCarthy, William Bernard. Jack in Two Worlds:  Contemporary North American Tales & Their Tellers.  Chapel Hill:  U of NC Press, 1994. Contains tales edited by McCarthy, Cheryl Oxford, and Joseph Daniel Sobol, as well as discussions by folklore experts Carl Lindahl, Bill Ellis, Joseph Daniel Sobol, and others.  Part I, "The Hicks-Harmon (Beech Mountain) Jack Tale Tradition," gives background and tales from Ray Hicks, Frank Proffitt, Jr., Marshall Ward, Maud Gentry Long, and W. F. H. Nicolaisen. Part 2, "Jack in the Storytelling Revival," includes Leonard Roberts, Donald Davis, Bonely Lugg Kyofski, (PA), and Stewart Cameron (Toronto).

McDermitt, Barbara Rice Damron. A Comparison of a Scottish and American Storyteller and their Märchen Repertoires. Ph. D. Dissertation. School of Scottish Studies, Univ. of Edinburgh, 1986. 523 pp. 14 plates.

McDermitt, Barbara. "Stanley Robertson and Ray Hicks: The 2 Jacks." Now & Then 9 (Summer 1992): 34ff. In issue devoted to The Scottish-Appalachian Connection.

McGowan, Thomas. "'But, Lady, I'm Originally From Florida': Storyteller Orville Hicks and the Performance of Appalachian Masculinity." Program of the Appalachian Studies Association 2001 Conference, panel on Manhood and Appalachian Masculinity in Appalachia's Poetry and Verbal Art. April 1, 2001.

McGowan, Thomas. "Orville Hicks: Appalachian Storyteller." North Carolina Folklore Journal, vol. 45 (Summer-Fall 1998): 105-108.

McGowan, Thomas. "'Sort of like an Appalachian Journal Editor': Presenting and Playing with Identity in the Storytelling of Orville Hicks." Appalachian Journal, vol. 29, nos. 1-2. Fall 2001-Winter 2002.

McGowan, Thomas. "Tales and Grice's Cooperative Principle." Study page for Appalachian State University Principles of Language course describes linguistic principles illustrated in Orville Hicks' storytelling. Glossary page for English 3050, Studies in Folklore, uses Hicks' "The Hardest Whipping" to illustrate Elaboration, Jack Tales to illustrate Emic, and other Hicks references to illustrate terms Dialect, Folktale, Genre, Jack Tale, Märchen, Oral Formula, Oral Transmission, Repertory, Reported Speech, and Texture.

Manheim, James M. "Jerry Harmon." Arbor Web: Ann Arbor's Home on the Web.

Miller, Marcianne. "Storytellers Gather to Salute a Legend." MountainXpress ("weekly independent news, arts & events for Asheville & Western North Carolina"). Mountainx.com. 2001 article describes Ray Hicks and storytellers who follow in his footsteps.

Neufeld, Rob. "WNC Literature Surging Forward." Citizen Times.com. Voice of the Mountains. Asheville, NC. July 12, 2002 5:51 p.m. Online archive article on western North Carolina authors with a paragraph on Ray Hicks.

North Carolina Folk Heritage Award: Bertie Dickens, Emma Dupree, the Five Royales, Leonard Glenn, Ray Hicks, Algia Mae Hinton, A. C. Overton, Laughlin Shaw. Raleigh: North Carolina Arts Council, 1992. 16 pp.

Olson, Ted. "Appalachian Occupational Music." Festival of American Folklife, (2003), p. 24.

Orville Hicks at the Library. Page with photo of visit to Gaston County Public Library, NC (10/01?)

"Orville Hicks Keeps Alive Rich Tradition of Mountain Storytelling." The Mountain Times, "Summer Times 2001." Boone, NC. Short article with a profile and photo of Orville Hicks. Also a page on Jack Tales in this web site.

Oxford, Cheryl. "The Storyteller as Craftsman: Stanley Hicks Telling 'Jack and the Bull."' NC Folklore Journal, vol. 36 (1989): 73-120.

Oxford, Cheryl. "The Storyteller as Shaman: Ray Hicks Telling his Jack Tales." NC Folklore Journal, vol. 38 (1991): 75-186. Includes photos, quotations, and transcriptions of "Jack and Ray's Hunting Trip," "Hardyhardhead," "The Heifer Hide," and "Jack and the Varmints" with analysis. This is chapter V of Oxford's 1987 dissertation on Ray and Stanley Hicks and Marshall Ward, Watauga County storytellers (see Background Resources bibliography).

Oxford, Cheryl Collection 1981-88. Manuscripts Department, Library of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Inventory gives background on Oxford and "materials that Cheryl Oxford collected and produced in conjunction with her Ph.D. dissertation, 'They Call Him Lucky Jack: 3 Performance-Centered Case Studies of Storytelling in Watauga County, N.C.' The focus of this research was the stories and performance paradigms of three traditional Appalachian Jack tale storytellers from North Carolina: Ray Hicks, Stanley Hicks, and Marshall Ward. Other regional tellers of Jack tales, both traditional and revival, including ... Richard Chase, ... were also documented as part of her research. The bulk of the materials are audio and video recordings of public performances and interviews, which include storytelling. Also included are story transcripts, published articles by Cheryl Oxford, and a copy of her dissertation."  "Old Fire Dragaman" and other tales are old by Stanley Hicks, 1985, on field tapes.

Pavesic, Christine. Ray Hicks and the Jack Tales: A Study of Appalachian History, Culture, and Philosophy. Available as a printable, digital e-book and paperback by  iUniverse, 2005. Excerpts at this link to Pavesic's web site. Northern Illinois U. diss. 2002. Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences, 63:9 (2003 Mar), 3196.

Peters, John. Review of The Jack Tales by Ray Hicks and Lynn Salsi. Booklist, vol. 97 (Nov 15, 2000): p. 638. This short review calls the book "a rare link between the modern storytelling movement and an older tradition." Full text available online if your library subscribes to Academic Index ASAP.

Petro, Pamela. Sitting Up with the Dead: A Storied Journey Through the American South. New York: Arcade, 2001. Petro, a Massachusetts author, describes her four trips through the South and visits with storytellers, recording conversations and tales from each one. Appalachian storytellers discussed include Orville Hicks telling "Jack and the Varmints," Ray Hicks, and David Holt.

"Ray Hicks at his home, Banner Elk, Beech Mountain, North Carolina, 1983." Short video of Ray singing and playing harmonica. ACE Video Gallery. Association for Cultural Equity, New York City's Hunter College.

RAY HICKS.COM. International Storytelling Center, 2004. Web site with background on Ray and Rosa Hicks, photographs, information on fund-raising to assist the Hicks family..

Ray Hicks: In Memoriam. Appalshop. 2003. With obituary, photos and audio and video links.

"Ray Hicks." American Folktales: From the Collections of the Library of Congress. Ed. Carl Lindahl. Vol. 1. Armonk NY: M. E. Sharpe, 2004, pp. 141-58.  With photographs. "Jack and the Robbers," "The Unicorn and the Wild Boar," "The Witch Woman on the Stone Mountain on the Tennessee Side," "Grinding at the Mill" (a Jack tale also called "Sop Doll"), "Mule Eggs."

Regan-Blake, Connie. "From Another Time: The Legacy of Ray Hicks." Storytelling Magazine Sept.-Oct. 2002.

Regan-Blake, Connie. "Update on Ray Hicks." Web page with photos and May 23, 2001 letter about Ray Hicks' serious illness and the Ray and Rosa Hicks Fund.  See also "Ray's Amazing Grace" on Regan-Blake's CD Dive-Into Stories (in section above).

Remembering Ray Hicks. April 21, 2003. All Things Considered. NPR.org. Report the day after Hicks' death by commentator Bill Harley, who knew Hicks, with audio of Hicks telling part of Hardy Hardhead.

Renner, Craig J. "America's Jack: The Trickster Hero of Our Shy Tradition." The World & I:  The Magazine for Lifelong Learning. Sept. 1998:  224-31. Contains brief history of Jack tales in Europe and America, citing mainly Lindahl and Perdue, with brief mention of traditional storytellers Ray Hicks and Frank Proffitt Jr. Full text available online if your library subscribes to Academic Index ASAP.

Salsi, Lynn. The Life and Times of Ray Hicks: Keeper of the Jack Tales. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press, 2008. This biography is based on Salsi's extensive interviews and visits with Ray Hicks and his family late in his life. Includes photographs by Salsi and some older family photos. The introduction explains why Salsi chose to compile her interviews with Ray into a first-person narrative that retains many features of his dialect. One of many topics discussed involves tensions between the church's disapproval of secular storytelling at different phases of family history and the earthy tales the Hicks men loved to tell. Ray describes songs, hymns, riddles and stories that were always part of his everyday life, as well as the family's struggles with subsistence farming and other jobs. He tells abut his affinity for his grandfather's tales from the age of four and his identification with the folk hero Jack.

Salsi, Lynn. "Ray Hicks–Voice of Appalachia." Capturing the Spirit of the Carolinas Summer 2001. Essay in online archives of "a quarterly lifestyle magazine," on Hicks with photo of him in his living room and cover of Jack Tales book by Hicks and Salsi.

Salsi, Lynn. Young Ray Hicks Learns the Jack Tales. Illus. James Young. Brown Summit, NC: Forza Renea, 2005. "A biographical novel about the childhood of America's master storyteller, Ray Hicks" (title page). Audience ages 9-12.

Salsi, Lynn S., ed. Appalachian Jack Tales: Told by Hicks, Ward and Harmon Families. Illus. James Young. Brown Summit, NC: Forza Renea Editions, 2008. Eleven Jack tales with black and white illustrations, background on the storytellers (with whom Salsi worked closely) and additional notes on "mountain meanings," folkways, historical background, and author's notes. One of the tales is "Jack and the Giant Fire Draga'man." For tales edited by Salsi, see also Hicks' The Jack Tales above.

Sobol, Joseph. "Ray Hicks and the Doctors." Storytelling Magazine Sept.-Oct. 2002. Also reprinted at web site of The Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine.

Sobol, Joseph. "'Whistlin’ Towards the Devil’s House': Poetic Transformations and Natural Metaphysics in an Appalachian Folktale Performance." Oral Tradition, vol. 21, no. 1 (2006). Downloadable at Oral Tradition web site. Center for Studies in Oral Tradition. Columbia, MO. With audio recordings made at Ray Hicks's home in 1985. "This study centers on a performance of one of Hicks’s signature tales, 'Wicked John and the Devil.'" Discussing the relationship between Richard Chase's research and books and the Hicks-Harmon tradition of oral storytelling, Sobol argues that Chase may have introduced the tale to the Hicks family while Ray was young. Fascinating discussion of of how the tale reflects Ray Hicks' personal philosophy and aesthetic, and his identification with the blacksmith who is not a simplistically wicked folklore character. Hicks' "poetic transformation," told without laughter, produces "a tragic elegy" in contrast to "the typical jocular tale" (p. 19). At the end Hicks says associates the Brown Mountain Lights with the starting place of John's return to earth with fire the devil gives him.

Stadter, Philip (U of NC, Chapel Hill). "Herodotus and the North Carolina Oral Narrative Tradition." Histos, vol. 1 (1997).  Detailed scholarly article in an electronic journal of ancient historiography, comparing oral storytelling of Herodotus and Beech Mountain Hicks-Harmon family. Contains full transcript of "Jack and the Three Steers" from recording Ray Hicks Telling Four Traditional "Jack Tales." Comments by John Marincola, includes comparison of Jack with Odysseus.

"Stephen Gordon Produces Video on Appalachian Oral Tradition for 2005 National History Day Project." Three articles reprinted in AppLit. Orville Hicks appears in Gordon's award-winning video "Telling Tales: The Appalachian Oral Tradition," along with photos and background on other members of the Hicks-Harmon family of storytellers.

"Storyteller Coming to WPCC." The Focus 4 Oct. 1984: 22. Photo by Tanya Walker shows Frank Profitt, Jr. chatting with his uncle Ray Hicks. Includes quote by Ruth Sawyer about storytellers "letting a single stream of light pass through us as through one facet of the gem or prism that there may be revealed some aspect of the spirit, some beauty and truth that lies hidden within the world and humankind." Proffitt was Visiting Artist at Western Piedmont Community College and Ray Hicks's storytelling is described in anticipation of his visit sponsored by the Drama Club, on Oct. 15. The article stresses that Hicks takes his time with telling, as he waits for seasons to change and nature to produce crops and ginseng roots. His "tales are told 'to ease the heart' of both storyteller and listeners alike."

Thompson, J. W. "The Origin of the Hicks Family Tradition." NC Folklore Journal, vol. 34 (1987): 18-28.

Thompson, Jim. "Mountain Masters." The Mountain Times, "Summer Times 2001." Boone, NC. Short article on Ray Hicks, with photo of Ray and wife Rosa, and several other masters of mountain crafts.

Wood, Jesse. "Orville Hicks—The Last Beech Mountain Storyteller." Appalachian Voice Archive. Appalachian Voices. Oct. 2006.

See also Ferrum Performers Keep Jack Tales Alive - article on Ferrum Jack Tale Players with reference to visit by Ray and Orville Hicks.

Complete List of AppLit Pages on Folklore   |   Top of Page   |   Site Index   |   This page's last update: 8/17/13


Home