Through five decades as a professional storyteller and folksinger Jon Sundell has proven himself to be an outstanding interpreter of folk tradition. In nearly half of the United States, as well as several countries of Europe and Latin America, he has performed for people of all ages and backgrounds, in Spanish as well as English. His bilingual, multicultural repertoire runs the gamut from tall tales, legends and myths to animal tales, wonder tales, cante fables and wisdom tales. The stories are interwoven with songs accompanied on guitar, banjo, autoharp, and mountain dulcimer, creating a varied program that easily maintains the interest of any group. His warm, personal style and engaging use of sing-alongs quickly puts an audience at ease and draws them in to participate in a sense of shared adventure.
Jon communicates a deep respect for the cultures he represents, many of which he knows from first hand experience or in depth study. He has lived in France and traveled through Europe. He minored in Asian Studies and lived in Japan. He has traveled throughout Latin America and worked intensively with local Hispanic populations for twenty years. He has collected traditional tales and songs first hand from Appalachian tradition bearers. He cherishes his heritage as grandchild of Russian Jewish immigrants, and often illustrates the close relationship of their tales with ones told by their Muslim neighbors. All this background experience enriches Jon’s performances and workshops and comes together to form a theme of multicultural understanding that Jon emphasizes with passion.
One more dimension to Jon Sundell’s storytelling is his background in public and school libraries, where he spent 32 years. Drawing on those experiences he is able to gear programs to match the school curriculum and bring it to life. Where it is desired and appropriate, he can bring in books, history, native crafts and slides. All of these different factors come together in Jon’s programs to create a “perfect storm” of edutainment for audiences of all ages and background.