In 1979 when Dr. Gladys Caines-Coggswell had her first storytelling performance, she told one of her own stories of a miraculous transition from victim to victorious. She had people crying, laughing and inspired. As a media favorite, her dynamic performances, workshops, speeches and books have been written about, televised and highly recommended to event planners. Her stories have brought audiences to their feet. She is one of the nation’s leading experts in the areas of inner healing, humor, violence/substance prevention stories and story based seminars.
Now, Gladys has added to her large repertoire another victorious story. She tells about being down but not out after suffering from a debilitating stroke in 2005. That stroke left her partially paralyzed and speechless. After months of tireless work, she is not only speaking again, but continues telling wonderful stories, writing and singing. Gladys admits that her great grandmother disciplined her with stories. “Whenever I did something sinful, my great grandmother had a story about someone who behaved in the same obnoxious manner. Of course that someone always came to a bad end. I didn’t want to come to a bad end, so I tried to behave. Still I wondered why my great grandmother couldn’t be quiet and just beat me like other people did their children. Today I am thankful that instead, she chose storytelling. ”
Gladys has held the title of Missouri’s Master Storyteller nine times through the Missouri Traditional Artist Apprenticeship Program. She is listed in the Missouri’s Touring Roster booklet and has been the subject of numerous articles, several television specials and books. There have been numerous joys that have highlighted her career – among them, telling in China and at the National Storytelling Festival’s Exchange Place where she received a standing ovation from over 2,000 appreciative story listeners.
She later became a “Featured Teller” at the National Storytelling Festival, and a “Teller in Residence” at the International House of Storytelling. However, nothing can compare to the unconditional love she receives from all of the young children and adults. They let her know they want to hear more. Then they ask, “When are you coming back ?” They let her know that she is doing the right thing – STORYTELLING. Now Gladys has put on another hat. She performs powerful historical role of Adeline, Mother Martha Chisley Talton and Lucey Delany who all served as slaves in Missouri.