Bobby grew up a shy child in North St. Louis with a debilitating stutter. Son of an elevator operator and confectionery clerk, Norfolk’s future was hazy when he was young. As a youth, Bobby wondered “What could a lost, lonely, discouraged kid from the low-rent blocks of St. Louis do with the rest of his life?”
Norfolk’s path toward storytelling and success began in 1961 when he suddenly overcame his stutter when performing in a fourth-grade poetry recital. From that moment, his teachers helped him to grow as both an individual and a performer. “They saw things in me didn’t see in myself, which is the mark of a master teacher, to see inside the student with low self-esteem (who) hasn’t found his or her gifts,” Norfolk said in a recent interview.
His teachers put him in drama class, Greek club, poetry recitals and talent shows. “Whenever I performed, I wouldn’t stutter” he said. Norfolk is grateful to his teachers who became his role models and helped him overcome adversity as a child and teen-ager. They put me on the right path.
Bobby has been a professional entertainer since 1971. His natural talent combined with a background in theatre and comedy has made him one of the top storytellers in the country today. Storyteller Jackie Torrence introduced him to Earwig Music Company CEO Michael Frank in 1987, and Bobby went on to record three albums for the Earwig label, Why Mosquitoes Buzz In Peoples’ Ears, Norfolk-Tales, and Storyteller In a Groove.
Bobby brings great energy, humor and spirit to all of his theatre performances in K-12 schools, as well as colleges and universities. Bobby provides a unique perspective and inspired motivation with his keynotes and story/theatre workshops.
He establishes a strong sense of place and time with his fascinating living history story performances where his audiences become totally engaged in the lives of ordinary people going through extraordinary events! He highlights through his unique ability the African/American experience and traditions that show the commonality of all human beings on the planet.
As Bobby says: “We all share the exact same character traits, despite color, race or religion. I tell stories to see the happiness and joy that can be shared through the oral tradition. No fancy electronics, just teller and listener. The human brain is hard-wired for story. Once you know a person’s story, it is easier to understand and relate to them.”
For more information on Bobby Norfolk, visit: www.bobbynorfolk.com