Iowa's African-American Festival


Celebration Day Headliners


Film & Television Actor

Lance Gross currently stars as a series regular on “Star” (Fox) as ‘Maurice Jetter’.  He has also recently appeared as the recurring role of ‘Billy Colton’ on ‘MacGyver” (CBS).

Lance also is the creator, producer and star of the MACRO digital series “I Turned My Camera On” (Essence) which combines his photography with a series of interviews with celebrities.  Season one featured Michael B. Jordan, Omari Hardwick, Kelly Rowland amongst others.

Previously Lance was a series regular on “Sleepy Hollow’ (Fox) opposite Nichole Behari, and also the lead of the NBC drama “Crisis” opposite Dermott Mulroney, Gillian Anderson, and Rachael Taylor.

Lance has starred on TV One’s “When Love Kills: The Felicia Blakely Story” directed by Tasha Smith; the BET anthology series “Tales: Trap Queen” directed by Benny Boom; and “The Bobby Brown Story” (BET).

Lance is the first actor to win four NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series for his role on Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne.”

He has previously starred in the Tyler Perry film “Temptation” opposite Jurnee Smollett, Brandy Norwood, and Vanessa Williams; the remake of “Steel Magnolias,” opposite Queen Latifah, Alfre Woodard, Phylicia Rashad, and Jill Scott (Lifetime); alongside America Ferrera, Forest Whitaker and Carlos Mencia in Fox Searchlight’s “Our Family Wedding;” and has guest starred on USA Network’s “Royal Pains.”


Freddie Ricks grew up in the Bronx NY. His choice at becoming a stand up comedian, was no coincidence. As a young ladd, Freddie and his late brother Scotty, would gather crowds as they improvised comedy skits, using international dialects. His love for making people laugh followed him into adulthood, as he took to the stage as a stand up comedian. Freddie’s uncanning abilities to create characters via dialects, has earned him a reputation in the world of stand up comedy. His creative gifts, have taken him to various areas in writing, screen plays, stage plays, and at Spike TV. He has also appeared in several Stand up comedy television appearance such as, Showtime at the Appollo, Comic View, Appollo comedy hour, Bounce TV in Amsterdam, and Def Comedy Jam, having had multiple appearances on each platform. He has also been featured in the Motion pictures,  Shaft 2000, Baby Boy, and several independent films. Audiences world wide have enjoyed his sytyrical, and political perspectives on life from his point of view. Those who attend, always leave entertained by the pictures painted by this artist in his stand up routine.

Broadcasting to the Nation from I’ll Make Me a World in Iowa

AL RUCKER is a true Renaissance Man…Talk Show Host, serial entrepreneur, author, and the role he is most proud of is being a husband and father. Al’s entrée into radio was to promote his Houston businesses. The Program Director at the station called him because he noticed a considerable bump in the ratings and people were phoning the station because they wanted to hear more of the show. At the time, The Al Rucker Show was a two-hour weekend show, but because of consumer demand, in January 2018, it expanded to a 5-day a week, national program with footing in 30 markets accross the country.  When Al produces his show, he wants to deliver the real stories of the day with experts and celebrity guests with the goal of helping the community. Al says “I try to empower people, as well as kids by promoting education, and providing them with news in a fun environment”.  Near and dear to his heart is The Al Rucker Foundation, which was born in 2015 for the purpose of providing educational opportunities to underprivileged youth living in the Houston metropolitan area. The mantra of the foundation is despite one’s upbringing, environmental challenges or circumstances, one should be able to reach their full potential with the tools, resources and access to educational opportunities to achieve their dreams.  Al Rucker was homeless at 16 years old, but was ranked #6 in the country for track. His High School track and basketball coaches helped shape him during this time keeping him focused on education and sports. He was recruited and went on to attend Florida State University on a sports scholarship which changed his life. The Al Rucker Show embodies and shares some of the advice that he received from his High School Coaches which is: Always believe in yourself; never give up; always thrive for the best; and prepare like today is the last day of your life. His hobbies include working out, basketball, and traveling.

Al’s co-hosts include:

NIKKI WOODS – Nikki Woods is a super communicator, Trendsetter, Social Media Influencer, Author, Blogger/Vlogger, sought after Motivational Speaker, Mom; and the former producer of the “hardest working man in radio.”

SE7EN THE POET –  Renowned Poet, Author and Motivational speaker, Se7en the Poet is progressing mind frames in a style and flare that is all his own. He brings comedy to each episode of “Al Rucker Show.”



SHARANE CALISTER Sharane Calister is an American singer with soulful sounds. A 25 year old native of Des Moines, Iowa. Sharane used music as an outlet and began playing the violin in third grade. Her passion to sing continued throughout high school

while singing in multiple choirs including Bridges to Harmony Gospel Choir who performed for President Barack Obama.

Although her biological parents are in her life now, Calister was adopted at the age of 10 by a cousin, Robin Calister who spent many years as a childcare provider. Sharane also has a twin sister with whom she has reunited.

Sharane is best known for her appearance and performance on The Voice Season 14 working with Alicia Keys and Adam Levine. She landed in the Top 11 with powerful performances singing songs like “Make it Rain,” “All I Can Do is Cry,” “In My Blood,” and “Never Enough.” As a rising star, her journey does not stop although her stint with The Voice ended prior to the finale. She continues to sing with The Feel Right Band and Pie in the Sky band while making additional appearances throughout the country.

As a foster care alumni and adoptee, Sharane gives back to communities. She recently was a speaker during The Purple Project Foster Care Youth Conference in Cleveland, Ohio. She has been invited back for the 2019 conference. Calister inspires youth by sharing that life continues and their light will shine despite their current circumstances; life can go their way too. One of Sharane’s future goals is to establish a foundation which will offer guidance, inspiration and education to foster care youth & young adults.

Sharane Calister’s journey is showcased through her powerful voice and she is looking forward to releasing her own music.


Author, The Original Blueprint

SONYIA GRAHAM was born and raised in Des Moines, Iowa. She relocated to Houston in 1987. She is the proud mother of Andrew and

Victoria Graham, who represent and are her best work. She’s an author, publisher and owner of Colored Mirrors Publishing, LLC, whose motto is “Written words are colored mirrors to one’s soul.” They believe everyone has a story and it is important to birth yours and leave a legacy for years to come. While Sonyia is excited to share the Original Blueprint series around the world, she is equally excited about the opportunity to help others birth their stories. In her sports management career, she had the pleasure of managing Silver Medalist Olympian Nia Abdallah, for whom she successfully secured the first NIKE Martial Arts endorsement for in 2004. As an entrepreneur, one of her companies, Mirror Perfect Marketing, Inc., was Compaq Computer Corporation’s first online promotional products provider nationwide. Sonyia is the founder of Me Time 4 Real, a Facebook woman’s social organization. She loves serving and has served as a Teen Ministry Support for 10 years as well as other ministries. Sonyia also served as president of Enrichment & Brotherhood of Northwest Youth (also known as) E.B.O.N.Y. for two consecutive years. She served in service unit and troop leadership roles for Girl Scouts of San Jacinto for nine years. Her life’s passion and work are to empower others worldwide to enjoy life and live their Original Blueprint on purpose. She feels her real gift is her love for people.