VH1 Storytellers was such a cool show.
It borrowed the idea of MTV Unplugged — a hugely popular act performing a stripped-down set in front of an intimate audience — and took it one step further. Audiences could see and hear artists in a more relaxed setting, dishing on their careers and telling stories about creating the songs we know and love.
Storytellers first aired 25 years ago in late February 1996; Kinks mastermind Ray Davies was the first performer. It ran for 97 more episodes, the last starring Ed Sheeran in 2015. In between, there was a veritable Who’s Who of talent, from classic rock gods like David Bowie and Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young to ‘90s stars like Pearl Jam and Green Day and pop stars like Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, and P!nk. The show cut across an eclectic six-decade cross-section of music and culture.
The idea behind the show still lives on. What was Springsteen’s “Devils and Dust Tour” and later Broadway show if not an expansion of the Storytellers concept? Or the evening of music and story-swapping “Sweetheart of the Rodeo Tour” from members of The Byrds a few years back? The point is that Storytellers highlighted that behind every song is a story, artists love tellin’ them, and audiences are there to hear them.
The show has now been off the air for six years, a lifetime in arts and entertainment. That means it’s ripe for a reboot. A Storytellers 2.0, if you will. With that in mind, here’s the 10 artists ideally suited to make that a successful endeavor.