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Billingual Storyteller entertains students with songs and stories

By Gheni_Platenburg
Oct. 7, 2010 at 5:07 a.m.

Songwriter and storyteller Sue Young uses bilingual music and storytelling to entertain fourth and fifth grade Victoria students in the Victoria College Auditorium, as part of the Museum of the Coastal Bend's Hispanic Heritage Month celebrations.

The Victoria College Auditorium was filled with the lyrics of "La Bamba" and the sounds of laughter on Thursday as storyteller Sue Young performed bilingual stories infused with songs for an audience of fourth- and fifth-graders.

Young, 53, performed as part of the Museum of the Coastal Bend's celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month.

"I thought these kids were a great audience. They were very polite and responsive. Their teachers should be proud," said Young. "It sure makes me want to come back to Victoria."

About 275 students showed up to listen to Young tell Latin myths, folk tales, legends and fables in Spanglish, using both her voice and the guitar.

Young, who is a singer, songwriter and storyteller, also performed various folk and traditional songs in Spanish, interacting with the audience by asking them to sing along.

"Sometimes, I hear kids spontaneously translating the words during my shows," said Young. "I love that."

She continued, "I just connect with them."

Lisa Brimberry, education coordinator for the Museum of the Coastal Bend, arranged for Young to perform.

Brimberry said Young was exactly the type of bilingual performer she wanted to perform for the community.

"I thought it was wonderful," said Brimberry. "I loved the show."

Brimberry said all Victoria Elementary fourth- and fifth-graders were invited to the show, but only three schools attended.

Katie Kelly, a fifth-grade teacher at Juan Linn Elementary School, was one of the teachers who attended the event with her students.

"On our campus, we appreciate all cultures. I hope they realize that we are all the same," said Kelly. "I was happy to hear the little girl beside me say the words before (Sue) did."

Student attendees were equally as happy about Young's performance.

"I liked her voice and they way she acted was cool," said 10-year-old Colin Edwards, a fifth-grader at Juan Linn. "It wasn't the coolest field trip, but it was really funny."

"I liked that we got to sing 'La Bamba,'" said 11-year-old Felicity Quinonez, who was also a Juan Linn fifth-grader. "I liked it because it was actually pretty cool to see adults having fun."

Young has been performing and perfecting her bilingual one-woman act for quite some time now.

Born in New York, Young was raised in Albuquerque where she grew up around Spanish speakers.

She graduated from the University of New Mexico in 1979 with a bachelor's degree in Spanish and a minor in Latin American studies.

During her time in college, she studied abroad in Ecuador, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Bolivia, immersing herself in the Spanish language and culture.

In 1985, Young moved to Austin where she hoped to break into the Austin music industry.

In the meantime, she began a career as a music and Spanish teacher for private schools.

"The storytelling started out as a teaching tool in the classroom and it grew into another career path because it was so much fun," Young said.

In 1994, Young was selected to join the Texas Commission on the Arts artist roster, which is an honor bestowed upon artists the commission feels have some cultural impact on Texas heritage.

It was then that she began her career as a professional storyteller.

"I love performing, especially for kids. If they like you, they'll let you know. If they don't like you, they'll let you know that, too. They are very honest," said Young.

In addition to continuing to work as a teacher and performing throughout Texas and its surrounding states, Young also put out a CD of her storytelling, titled "The Legend of Quetzel."

She also was selected to write the theme song in 2009 and 2011 for the Texas Summer Reading Club.



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