“Story Jam” returns to Chicago,IL this Sunday! Learn more about the artistic and expressive event now.
BTSCelebs: How was Story Jam created?
Stephanie Rogers: Story Jam started in 2014, when I was leading an event band and attending live lit storytelling shows. I sat in the audience and thought…’wow, this is a very cool scene, but it needs music!’ I wasn’t spending a lot of time songwriting back then, so the original music piece came as a thrilling challenge. To this day, every story gets a freshly written, original song; and I’ve personally written about 200 songs in response to the personal narratives told at Story Jam.
How does it differ from other Chicago events?
There’s no other storytelling show that has music crafted specifically for the show, as far as I know. But…the key difference is the true, personal, immediate, and intimate nature of elevated storytelling. It’s more theatricalized than bar room storytelling. It’s taking real, surprising, shocking, hilarious, or moving stories and turning them into performance. Then, add in a 10-piece band and original songs, and it’s unlike other live events.
Which special guest’s story do you identify with the most?
Well, the belief is that anyone in the room will be able to identify, in some way, with every story. However, I am particularly looking forward to seeing Tracy Baim. She was on the front lines of AIDS activism in the 80s and 90s, and, well…I guess I was around then a bit.
From this year’s event, which song will resonate with listeners?
Ha! All of the songs are fantastic of course! But, from this year…let’s see…there have been about 35 or so songs written since January of 2019, and I would say the one we’re doing for Peter Sagal on Sunday is going to be plenty fun.
Tell us more about your direct connection with The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights.
I was watching immigrant children speak to Congress about the 30-day deportation letters they received. The kids all had very serious, life-threatening illnesses for which, if they had gotten deported as the government had intended, they would not have been able to receive treatment. The U.S. was willing to send these children to a country and a medical system where they would die.
I could not imagine the terror they were experiencing. I called my friend Jenny Bailey, who is an immigration lawyer in Maine (and one of the smartest people I know) and I asked her if she knew of anyone in Chicago who was making a difference in the lives of immigrant children. She told me about The Young Center for Immigrant Children’s Rights. I called them immediately and they loved the idea of partnering with us. They are an amazing bunch!
Will you take Story Jam to other cities and countries in the near future?
Yes! We hope to grow Story Jam far and wide! We are currently planning more corporate functions, workshops, classes, retreats, and shows. The movement of storytelling is spreading rapidly, and this is an incredibly exciting time for the art form.
This Sunday, catch “Story Jam” at CityWinery Chicago! Doors open at 11AM and the event starts at noon.
BTSCelebs sends a special thanks to producer/singer/songwriter Stephanie Rogers and The Silverman Group for the interview and images.