Singer and storyteller to present 'The Old Gravel Road'

Cheryl Marshall
St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church
Posted1/9/2017 9:53 AM

Singer-songwriter Jeanne Cotter and her uncle, professional storyteller Michael Cotter, present "The Old Gravel Road" at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Jan. 20, at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, 1500 Brookdale Road, Naperville.

Cotter is the artist-in-residence at St. Thomas for a year, leading the music at weekend Masses once a month and presenting a variety of programs through May 2017. Programs include sharing her faith experience through storytelling, concerts, workshops and the parish Lenten mission.

With numerous recordings and music collections to her name, Cotter's latest projects include the release of two recordings this past year, "The Old Gravel Road: Storytelling and Song From the Heartland" and "Tender Hearted."

She also has published an inspirational children's book, "Child of the Moon."

Cotter holds an interdisciplinary master's degree in psychology and spirituality; her undergraduate studies were in theology and music.

In joining his niece in telling "The Old Gravel Road" tales, Michael Cotter shares his wit, wisdom and whimsy as he weaves vivid pictures that illustrate life's shared journey and the call to reach out and build bonds with fellow travelers.

"I'm a third-generation farmer from Austin, Minnesota, where the land is flat and the soil is black, and many of those farms have been in the same families for over a hundred years, and ours is one of them," Michael Cotter says.

He said his stories have their genesis from "The dinner table of my youth that often contained a mixture of hoboes who worked on the farm and became part of our family, the neighbors on the threshing crew, teachers, missionaries, doctors, Catholic nuns and priests in my mother's family -- all stopping on the farm for dinner and trying to connect with their stories."

In telling the stories from his life, Michael Cotter says, "I began to see the healing power of sharing those personal stories. This came into focus in 1990 when I was invited to conduct a workshop with terminally ill people, where I learned that we can be healed without being cured."

For more information about "The Old Gravel Road," or the artist-in-residence program, call Scott Knisley, director of liturgy and music ministries at St. Thomas, at (630) 355-8980, ext. 111, or email