Brother Blue and his wife, Ruth Hill
Dr. Hugh Hill, a spectacular professional storyteller known to one and all as Brother Blue, has died in Cambridge, MA at age 88.
Brother Blue was a true shaman. Once you met and spoke with him, or once you saw and heard him perform, especially out in the open in Harvard Square, or once you were there when he stood to make a comment from the audience at some talk or performance, his image and spirit were forever imprinted upon your own spirit. As he said, he spoke from the middle of the middle of himself, to the middle of the middle of you. The blue butterfly was his symbol and totem.
As one writer put it:
“Brother Blue is to story-telling what John Coltrane is to jazz. Walking down the street in Cambridge, people of all ages, sizes, and shapes light up when they see this griot covered in butterflies, bells, balloons, ribbons, and a banner. Underneath the trappings of a roaming town crier and his allegorical tales of the triumphant underdog is a man fueled by a faith in the transformative power of story-telling & service.
The great-grand-son of a slave-owner and his slave, with degrees from Harvard and Yale, Blue rose within the majority-dominated military, ministry, and academia, and emerged as one of the original Afro-American street-hipster-rappers. The official story-teller for Cambridge, Boston, and even the United Nations Habitat Forum, he is often called the “father of modern story-telling,” and devotes most of his unrelenting energy to the public domain — street corners, parks, subways, prisons, hospitals, and classrooms across the urban mosaic.” (Text adapted from Warren Lehrer’s Portrait series.)