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Helen Royal 

Performing Artist of Spirituals and Gullah Stories

Helen Royal in the persona of “Dah” – the nanny so familiar and beloved to downtown Charleston homes – sings spirituals and tells stories in the Gullah language.  Born and raised in Charleston with family ancestry reaching back to the founding of the city, Helen enthusiastically portrays the richness and rhythms of the Lowcountry.

Many children in Charleston were raised and nurtured by Dahs (the Gullah vernacular for “nanny”), whose job it was to “mime dem chillen, an’ mek sho dey ain’t git in no trebble!”  “Dem chillen” were often entertained by Gullah tales and sung to sleep by spirituals.  The unique blending of sounds, rhythms, and colors from the Lowcountry’s “braided” European and African cultures were deeply etched on Helen’s spirit and personality from childhood.  Helen presents her programs through the voice of “Dah” in honor of her own childhood Dah, Ella, and all those very special Dahs who have nurtured families for generations

Audubon scholar Alexander Sprunt, Jr. stated in Carolina Lowcountry Impressions, “The vivid and varied beauty of the Lowcountry can never be perfectly translated into pictures or words.  Its riches are offered to the senses and the heart.”  At the heart of Helen’s dramatic singing and whimsical tales is a passion for the plaintive spirituals and delightful Gullah dialect.  “I soaked in the cultural richness of Lowcountry rhythms and folklore much as I breathed in the salt air and was soothed by the stretching vistas of marshland and ocean.”

Helen’s lyrical soprano voice and “personalized” presentation for each audience combine to create an unforgettable experience.  Through her songs and stories, oftentimes listeners imaginatively relive some long forgotten memory of their childhood. 

Helen includes short narratives to explain the origins of the spirituals and stories.  She can be booked by contacting David Archer of Archer Music Service, LLC at 843-871-4460 or by email: david@archermusic.com for solo engagements, conventions, historical events, or fundraisers.




  • Helen attended Ashley Hall School for Girls in Charleston, SC B Grades 1-12

  • Received her B.A. in English from the College of Charleston

  • Studied for three years with Robert Simpson, former Director, Princeton's Westminster Choir

Sample of Performances

  • International Diabetic Research Convention- Gibbes Art Gallery

  • Dinner party B former home of Dubose Heyward

  • International Marine Biology Convention B Middleton Plantation

  • Wedding reception B Old Exchange Building

  • Barbados Cultural Exchange B Magnolia Gardens

  • Convention of International Business Professors B Boone Hall

  • International Foresters Convention B Riviera Theater

  • Special Presentation B Charleston Museum

  • Convention of International Physicians B Boone Hall

  • Garden Presentations B Historic Residences

Sample of Spirituals and Songs

  • Deep River

  • Swing Low, Sweet Chariot

  • Scandalize My Name

  • Lil' David

  • Ride On King Jesus

  • Arias from Porgy and Bess

  • Various Classical and Folk pieces

Sample of Stories 

  • Buh Rabbit Stories/ Original stories

  • Charleston Historical Sites/ and stories

  • Various readings in the Gullah language


Buh Blacksnake

I Believe I'll Go Back Home

Audio Samples