Photo credit: Moneta Sleet Jr./Ebony Collection/AP


(1928-2014) was an American author, poet, actress, screenwriter, dancer, and civil rights activist. She is best known for her memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, the first nonfiction bestseller by a Black woman. Dale Taylor, PhD, wrote in a tribute to Maya Angelou, “What’s particularly important about Angelou is that she gave voice to a group of people who generally are not featured as part of the American literary or popular cultural experience.”

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Performed at The Grand – February 1983


is an author and professional storyteller, who has conducted storytelling, creative dramatic and movement workshops in schools, community centers, and theaters, and worked with teachers helping them to incorporate the arts into their curricula. Toni was designated as a National Endowment for the Arts American Masterpiece touring artist. She is also a Texas Commission on the Arts Touring Artist.

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Toni Simmons performs annually at The Grand Kids Festival.


appeared at The Grand during a campaign tour through Texas in 2008 on behalf of her husband, Barack Obama, candidate for U.S. President.  Her book, “Becoming” was the best-selling book in the US for the year 2018!

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Appeared at The Grand – February 2008