Meet the Self-Proclaimed “World’s Greatest Storyteller” of NYC

June 24, 2014 | Sophie Weiner

T. Berry has wandered the New York underground since the ’70s, telling his unique blend of rap, spoken word and traditional black folk tales to anyone who will listen — most often, the intoxicated. Adam Forrester recently described T. Berry’s singular art for Feature Shoot:

But what makes T. Berry’s street performances so unique and striking are how visceral and ephemeral they feel – they’re shouted from street corners, from within dingy bars, and along dim side streets. His performances feel incredibly temporal – in one moment they’re full of energy and life, and in the next they’ve echoed and faded. He wanders bar-lined streets and culls his audiences from the piqued curiosities of idle smokers and phone gazing couples.

Photographer Horatio Baltz had been documenting T. Berry’s life and work through photos and videos in a project called The World’s Greatest Storyteller. His photos capture the mix of sadness and joy that someone who he describes as having a “heart of gold” brings into the lives of random people on the street, year after year. The project is a work in progress, and more photos and videos are available on Baltz’s website. Here’s a sample of the performance. It’s very dirty.

(Photos: Horatio Baltz)