FESTIVAL SCHEDULE

Rev. Dr. Al Sharpton is founder and President of the National Action Network (NAN), a not-for-profit civil rights organization formed in 1991 with over 100 chapters nationwide, including a Washington, DC Bureau and regional offices across the US. As one of the nation’s most-renowned civil rights leaders, Rev. Al Sharpton has been praised by President Barack Obama as "the voice of the voiceless and a champion for the downtrodden.” Rev. Al Sharpton also hosts a daily radio show, a national cable news television show and he is an established author.

Kierra Sheard is a GRAMMY® nominated, multiple award-winning recording artist, songwriter, TV star/actress and entrepreneur. Singing since age 9, Kierra is the daughter of Karen Clark Sheard (of the renowned Clark Sisters) and Bishop J. Drew Sheard (Pastor of Greater Emmanuel, Institutional Church Of God In Christ, Detroit, MI). Kierra has BA in English from Wayne State University and owns plus size clothing line Eleven60, www.myeleven60.com. You can find info on her latest digital EP entitled LED at www.iamkierrasheard.com.

Multi-GRAMMY® Award winning sisters Jacky, Twinkie, Dorinda and Karen are true gospel music legends and noted as pioneers of contemporary gospel since the 1980s.  Daughters of the legendary Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, these dynamic Gospel trailblazers have given us hits such as, “You’ve Brought the Sunshine”, “Endow Me”, and “Is My Living in Vain."  Their music continues to inspire artists such as Faith Evans, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliot and many more.  This year, they will be honored at the Essence Festival!

For Grammy nominated singer/songwriter Travis Greene, destiny announced itself several times. At the age of four, he was pronounced dead after falling four floors out of an apartment window in Germany. As his mother picked up his lifeless body, she called on Jesus until he came back to life. Now the anointed vocalist signed to RCA Inspiration is encouraging the masses with his chart topping single, “Intentional” from his major-label debut album, THE HILL. 

Tyra Banks, the Chairman and CEO of The Tyra Banks Company and Founder of Fierce Capital, LLC is an original Victoria’s Secret Angel.  Tyra was the first African-American model to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue. For the last decade, she has been the creator and executive producer of "America’s Next Top Model."  Most recently, Tyra created TYRA Beauty, a 100% self-funded company with the goal of providing everyone the opportunity to become the CEO of their own lives. TYRA Beauty is a one of a kind cosmetics experience where beauty and entertainment collide. 

There’s no slowing down for powerhouse vocalist, Tasha Page-Lockhart.  Since winning the sixth season of BET’s "Sunday Best" and signing with Kirk Franklin’s "Fo' Yo' Soul" Recordings/RCA label, the Detroit native released her major-label debut, HERE RIGHT NOW, and took home the 2015 Stellar Award for Best New Artist of The Year.   Currently, Tasha is a part of Tyler Perry’s touring stage production, “Madea on The Run” and working on new music for her sophomore album.   

Groundbreaking ballerina Misty Copeland, was promoted to principal dancer at the American Ballet Theatre in June 2015.  She made history as the first black woman to reach that level in the company’s 75-year history. She had been a soloist at ABT since 2007 and joined the company’s Corps de Ballet in 2001.  Since then, the nationally known dancer has appeared on the cover of ESSENCE Magazine and interviewed President Obama with our amazing staff.

Actress Patina Miller currently stars as Daisy Grant on the second season of CBS’ hit political drama series, “Madam Secretary.” Her Broadway credits include "Pippin" (Tony and Outer Critics Circle Award), "Sister Act" (Theatre World Award).  Her Off-Broadway credits include "Ragtime," "Lost in the Starts," "Romantic Poetry" and The Public Theater’s revival of "Hair."  Her Regional credits include "Pippin," "First You Dream," "Sister Act," "Being Alive" and "West End: Sister Act."   Her TV credits include “All My Children,” “American Songbook Gala.” Her film credits include "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay" Part 1 & 2.

Cookie Johnson is a devoted philanthropist on the Board of Directors for the Magic Johnson Foundation, and a passionate spokesperson.  She joins her husband, Earvin "Magic" Johnson in the fight against HIV/AIDS.  Cookie is founder of 'CJ by Cookie Johnson,' a premium denim line.  The Michigan State University graduate lives with her husband in California; she is mother to their three children, André, Earvin Johnson III (EJ), and Elisa.

Empowerment Stages

Phaedra is a celebrated entertainment attorney, mortician, author, mediator, television personality, activist, public speaker and, most importantly mother of two sons. She is the Managing Partner of The Parks Group, P.C., a boutique law firm that caters nationally to entertainers and athletes. Phaedra is a self-proclaimed "Southern Belle" as well as an active member of the community and church, sits on numerous boards, and is involved in multiple charities.  

Multimillion copy and New York Times bestselling author TERRY MCMILLAN fell in love with books as a teenager while working at the local library. She studied journalism at UC Berkeley and screenwriting at Columbia before making her fiction debut with Mama, which won both the Doubleday New Voices in Fiction Award and the American Book Award. She lives in Pasadena, California.

From Welfare Mother to New York Times best-selling author, from the Brooklyn projects to Emmy Award winner, from broken pieces to peace, NAACP Image Award Winner Iyanla Vanzant is one of the country's most celebrated writer, thought leader, public speaker, and she's among the most influential, socially engaged, and acclaimed spiritual life coaches of our time. Executive Producer and Host of the critically acclaimed breakout hit "Iyanla: Fix My Life" on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network, Iyanla's focus on faith, empowerment, and loving relationship has inspired millions around the world.

Yolanda Adams triumphantly carries the torch for contemporary gospel and inspirational music. With 13 releases, Yolanda has earned a multitude of accolades including four Grammy Awards.  Not only is Yolanda a phenomenal vocalist, she is also an author ("Points of Power"), designer of a Coffee Line, Simply Yolanda Bath & Body Products, www.YolandaAdamslive.com, mother, and the host on her award winning nationally syndicated radio show “The Yolanda Adams Morning Show."