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Elgin Jumper hones new element in storytelling mix

CLEWISTON — Elgin Jumper is known for a lot of things – his artwork, short stories and poetry. He knows things too – Seminole history, art history, theater and literature.

Jumper is also a prolific storyteller, and he’s been refining a new touch to that aspect of his craft – soundscapes.

So instead of appearing at events behind a podium with a book or journal in his hands – he’s added an amplifier, electric guitar and violin reed. Sometimes he brings a Native American flute.

Adding soundscapes to his storytelling performances isn’t a totally new idea. Jumper has been experimenting with it off and on for several years. He describes it as a “mixed-media storytelling performance.”

In 2013 and 2014 Jumper first collaborated on such performances with Florida Gulf Coast University as part of a Seminole art exhibition.

The performances included painting, drawing and music, among other elements.

At the time, he also worked with actors, playwrights and directors from the Ghostbird Theatre Co. of Fort Myers.

Seminole artist, storyteller, author, poet and musician Elgin Jumper performs some of his new soundscapes at an event at the Clewiston Public Library on Nov. 25. (Photo Damon Scott)

“We worked for six months prior to the performance,” Jumper said. “One thing we did was to experiment with guitar and violin bow for soundscapes.”

More recently, he continued to work on soundscape performances with musician Stephanie Gabrielle-Sneed, his art instructor’s daughter.

Jumper said Gabrielle-Sneed had to end their collaboration due to health reasons.

“So, with no one to provide soundscapes for the performances, I have taken up the violin bow and guitar myself,” Jumper said. “I just felt I had to do something dynamic to move forward.”

Jumper had a chance to test out his soundscapes recently as part of “National Native American Heritage Month” in November.

He was hosted by the Clewiston Public Library for a “storytelling circle” on Nov. 25.

“What’s new for me this time, performance-wise, is the fact that I’ll be performing soundscapes with an electric guitar and violin bow,” Jumper told the audience before the event.

He then began by giving a historical timeline of the Seminole Wars and read from his book of poetry “Nightfall,” which was published in 2006.

Jumper also read excerpts of stories that had been previously published in The Seminole Tribune.

When Jumper started to add his soundscapes, the audience seemed entranced by the ethereal and unique sounds that were created.

“I’m so glad how things were received and it definitely encourages me to continue on,” Jumper said after the event. “Of course, I’m at the beginning of a wonderful journey, I feel, and yet I am very happy with how things have been going thus far.”

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Damon Scott
Damon is a multimedia journalist for the Seminole Tribune. He has previously been an editor and reporter for digital and print media in Florida and his home state of New Mexico. Send him an email at damonscott@semtribe.com.
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