Samuel James Tells the Story of Tiny Bill McGraw

Portland Ovations
Samuel James Tells the Story of Tiny Bill McGraw

Tiny Bill, a little Black boy, doesn’t like being small. His grandfather takes Tiny Bill under his wing and teaches him – and the audience – about his musical heritage and that size isn’t everything, especially if you can make a big sound! Through the story of Tiny Bill, Samuel James interweaves music, performance, Black American history, and a few life lessons while putting on a performance of his own. From finger snaps to banjo to piano, James shares his depth of musical talent in this 30-minute poignant storytelling experience of the fictional Tiny Bill McGraw in 1930s America.

The innovative and playful video format allows the audience to see him play numerous instruments at once as he builds to a final performance as a one-man nine instrument folk orchestra. This arts experience is a layered lesson in music and history informed by James’ unique perspective as a Black American folk musician with deep ties to Maine. Samuel James is an award-winning singer/songwriter, world-touring musician and Moth Mainstage storyteller, filmmaker, journalist and educator. For more than a decade he has performed extensively throughout the United States as well as more than 20 other countries, back when you could do that kind of thing.

This virtual experience includes three 10-minute videos that includes music and storytelling. These videos are captioned.

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