Penn State Harrisburg

‘National treasure’ performs on campus March 26

Called a "national treasure" by author and oral historian Studs Terkel, Anndrena Belcher brings her acclaimed storytelling performance to Penn State Harrisburg Monday, March 26.

Belcher’s two presentations are free and open to the public at 11 a.m. in the Olmsted Auditorium and at 6:15 p.m. in the Morrison Gallery of the campus library.

Born in Pike County, Kentucky amidst the Appalachian coal fields, Belcher migrated with her family to Uptown Chicago when she was very young. As they were forced to think about what it meant to be "hillbillies" in an area inundated with different cultures, she recognized the experiences she had in her mountain home were the sources of her identity.

In 1976, after earning bachelor’s and master’s degrees, she returned to the mountains and began working in post-secondary education and the arts. She remains there today.

"The truth of my own story lies on the road between inner-city Chicago and the hollers of my eastern Kentucky home," she says.

Terkel said of her, "Anndrena is one of our secret national treasures. More than ever is her gift as a storyteller needed today. We have lost our tribal memory, at least for the moment. It is an artist like Anndrena Belcher who can help us recapture it."

A self-described "hillbilly," Her oral history performances integrate folktales, song, dance and poetry. The performances are woven tightly and presented in a style which reflects both her eastern Kentucky coal field roots and urban-Appalachian migration experience. She has been described as "a Minnie Pearl with track shoes" and "a rocket-powered raconteur."

Belcher designs, produces, and integrates into her performances the clothing and costumes that so unique define her style. As a film and television actress, writer, designer, and performer, she has garnered grants, awards, and notoriety from a variety of sources.