Thursday, November 5, 2009

In memory of Dr. Hugh M. Hill

I will hold a special place in my heart for "Brother Blue", the fondest memories being sharing many Club Passim campfires at table 9 with him and dear Sister Ruth. Indicative of their respect for performing artists, they would write notes to each other. I wonder what those notes said!


Brother Blue dead at 88, was storyteller to generations in Harvard Square, beyond

Posted on November 5, 2009 by Kat Powers

Dr. Hill, known to most as the beret-clad storyteller Brother Blue, has died.

My remembrance of him was not at one of the many events I covered in Somerville and Cambridge where he was supporting another up-and-coming storyteller, but of Brother Blue out in Harvard Square.

Dr. Hill will be missed. ...

It was maybe 15, 20 years ago in Harvard Square, and Brother Blue had group of tiny kids and skate punks wrapped up in this story which was a retelling of Hamlet. He was covered in butterfly pins which kept the 1-year-olds enraptured. He was talking about this guy named Shakespeare in just a slightly off color way, describing him to the skate punks as a guy who “you know, the man was important, he was shaking his spear. And the story was in part about this guy with the name of Yorick, who had enough going on that the 6-year-0lds and the parents were breathless. It could be that day that the sentences were punctuated by a harmonica, but I could be wrapping several of his appearances together, I've seen him tell so many stories.


Brother Blue dead at 88; Was storyteller to generations

Delia Marshall
Brother Blue, aided by West Somerville Neighborhood School third-grader Omar Drissi, tells a story at the school's Family Night in 2002.

More related photos
Brother Blue Brother Blue
Wicked Local Cambridge
Posted Nov 05, 2009 @ 09:51 AM
Last update Nov 05, 2009 @ 10:50 AM


Dr.Hugh Hill, storyteller and Cambridge personality known to generations as Brother Blue, has died.

Hill, 88, died at his home Nov. 3.

Brother Blue was born in Cleveland, Ohio on July 12, 1921. An exceptional student, he served in the US Military from 1943-1946 in both theaters during World War Two; he was honorably discharged as a First Lieutenant. He obtained an AB from Harvard College, an MFA from Yale School of Drama and his PhD from Union Graduate School.

By the late-1960s Hill, always accompanied by his wife Ruth, was telling stories on the streets, in prisons, in classrooms and more. His stories always allowed the listener to imagine bigger worlds, see themselves in the heart of the tale and believe that they, too, were storytellers. Brother Blue said that he told stories, "from the middle of the middle of me to the middle of the middle of you," and that if you heard another person's story you could never harm them, so stories could save the world.

"I promise to live the story of unconditional love," said Brother Blue in a Cambridge Chronicle story six years ago. "I promise to sing a song from the middle of the middle of Brother Blue to the middle of the middle of all creation."

In 2003, "Ahhhh! A Tribute to Brother Blue and Ruth Edmonds Hill" was released The book, published by Somerville's Yellow Moon Press, is a compilation of stories, poems and photos submitted by area poets, writers, artists and just plain fans. A committee from LANES, the League for the Advancement of New England Storytellers, also based in Somerville, assisted in the project.

Brother Blue ran a storytelling series in Cambridge for over 20 years, where many storytellers found their own voices. Brother Blue and his wife Ruth always listened with uncritical and loving ears, encouraging everyone. He received multiple international awards for his art and was the official storyteller of both Cambridge and Boston.

Brother Blue leaves his wife Ruth Edmonds Hill, his sister Beatrice Hill, his niece Lynda Hill, his nephew Thomas Hill and hundreds of storytellers. Visiting hours are on Sunday, November 8, 2009 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. at Keefe Funeral Home, 2175 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge. Internment will be on Monday, Nov. 9, 2009 at 1 p.m. at the Pittsfield Cemetery, Pittsfield.

In lieu of flowers send donations to the League for the Advancement of New England Storytelling and the National Association of Black Storytellers. For obituary, directions or to send a condolence visit

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