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In the winter of 2000, the storytelling community lost one of its most original and daring artists to cancer. J.J. Reneaux was a storyteller, children’s book author, singer, and songwriter. J.J. grew up poor in the Delta bayous and was rich in the lore of her Cajun people. She succeeded by virtue of a native talent fired by passion and uncompromising dedication to her heritage and storytelling.

Her unique voice, fierce and honest as it was beautiful, will long be remembered. As a young unknown, however, J.J. learned how difficult it is to launch a career in the world of professional storytelling.

Never forgetting her own struggle, she dreamed of helping talented people succeed. When she saw the end of her life drawing near, she gave her family instructions to create a fund that would support exceptionally gifted tellers in the early stages of their careers. It is therefore with great pride that her family and her beloved colleagues have established the J.J. Reneaux Emerging Artists Fund. It is J.J.’s dream come to fruition.

We support  two different dynamic grant programs,

both designed to provide funds for activities to advance storytelling skills. 

The awards are given in alternate years.

  • The Mentorship Award provides for a gifted younger teller (18-30 years of age) to work with a seasoned teller as a mentor.

          The next Mentorship Award will be granted in 2025.


  • The Emerging Artist Award is presented to a storyteller of major and unique performing talent who has not yet received wide public recognition.​

Applications for the 2024 Emerging Artist Award

open on August 21, 2023.

The J.J. Reneaux
Emerging Artists Fund

J. J. Reneaux:  her legacy

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