Brendan Batson


Brendan Batson was originally from Grenada. He was the 1st Black Footballer to play for Arsenal. After playing 10 matches he was then transferred to Cambridge United captaining them to the Divison 4 Championship.


The Manager of Cambridge was a man called Ron Atkinson who then went on to manage West Bromwich Albion and took Brendan with him where he met up with Cyrille Regis and the late great Laurie Cunningham and they were affectionately called  The Three Degrees.


Brendan went on to establish himself as one of the Professional Footballers Association (PFA) senior administrators, rising to the position of deputy chief executive, responsible for developing the organisation into one this countries most important trade unions.


Brendan was nominated at number 63 in the poll of 100 Great Black Britons.


Gina Yashere


Gina Yashere is a stand-up comedy extraordinaire taking the world by storm! From humble roots born to a Nigerian family in London, and an early vocation as an elevator engineer, Gina has carved a career which has taken her worldwide delivering stand-up routines to the masses. She is now one of the most highly sought after stand-up comedians in the UK and the US. Yashere is also a TV sensation and shows no signs of letting up or losing a laugh after 16 years in the industry. Her unique take on being both a cultural insider and outsider, is a combination which never fails to raise the roof.


Gina will be performing at Derby Quad on Saturday 5 October.  You can buy your tickets from QUAD.






Jessica Care Moore


Jessica Care Moore is the CEO of Moore Black Press, Executive Producer of Black WOMEN Rock!  and founder of the literacy-driven,  Jess Care Moore Foundation.  An internationally renowned poet, playwright, performance artist and producer, she is the 2013 Alain Locke Award Recipient from the DIA. 


Moore is well known for her history making, record breaking appearances on "It's Showtime at the Apollo," and is the youngest living Apollo Legend. After a legendary win on the Apollo stage, Moore was approached by several book publishing companies. However in 1997, she paved her own way and launched a publishing company of her own, Moore Black Press. She released her first book "The Words Don't Fit In My Mouth," and sold more than 20,000 copies. A few years later, she followed up with her second collection of poetry and essays, "The Alphabet Verses the Ghetto." She has performed her poems and solo theatre shows all over the United States, in South Africa, and across Europe. 


Black Press proudly published famed poets, Saul Williams and Shariff Simmons; Def Poetry Jam's co-founder, Danny Simmons, NBA-ball player, Etan Thomas, activist and poet, Ras Baraka and former Essence Magazine editor and author, Asha Bandele


Moore is also recording her first jazz project, Black Tea: The Legend of Jessi James, which features Blue Note Recording artist, Jose James and the talented young Detroit based pianist Jon Dixon. This bold and electric artist has shared stages with the late Ossie Davis, CeCe Winans, the late, great, Gregory Hines, Anthony David, Norah Jones, Talib Kweli, Maya Angelou and many others. In 1999, she was honoured as Woman of the Year by the Harvard Black Men's Forum.


Her first single, "You Want Poems" is currently available on ITunes. (Coming soon)






Ioney Smallhorne


Ioney Smallhorne is a film-maker and performance poet who utilizes both art-forms to shed light on the experiences of the African diaspora.







Lee Payne


Lee Payne is a renowned tap dancer, Got to Dance semi-finalist and founder of BruckFeet productions, a dance company built to support and develop performers. He is also a graduate of the Millennium Performing Arts College. His musical theatre credits include River dance, Singing in the Rain and Magic of The Dance with theatre credits including Bouncers, Jekyll and Hyde, One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Hamlet. Payne has also appeared on television in Top of the Pops, the Des O’Conner Show and numerous River dance performances on television stations all over the world, including on Sky1 in the UK.





Michelle Vacciana


Michelle Vacciana is a Film-maker, Performer, Writer and all round artist based in Nottingham.

Originally from London’s East End, she came Nottingham to do a degree in Contemporary Art and explore a fascination with how the world can look through a Lens.


After graduation Michelle exhibited moving image based installations and Video Art across the region, becoming involved in Educational work through delivering attached workshops. Despite coming very close to a career as a teacher, Michelle flung a left at the last minute and decided to rekindle some of her own artistry which had taken a back seat for many years. As a result – the past 4 years have seen her throw herself into writing, performing and dusting off some of her old cine cameras.


Michelle’s latest work ‘Journey Cakes’ speaks of the experiences of men, women and children who journeyed to the UK from the Caribbean during the 1950's and 60's, to contribute to the British workforce. First-hand accounts orate what their expectations were and how that compared with what actualised when they arrived and began to build new lives.


Journey Cakes will feature as part of the Sweet Like Cocoa festival on Saturday 19th October.



Mouthy Poets


Mouthy Poets are a collective of artists, creating and manipulating words through writing, performance and event production with powerful impact. They use their energy to create first-class shows in theatres, festivals, schools and even your living room. Mouthy Poets believe in the power of words to change people’s lives. They collaborate with all forms of entertainment, leaving no stone unturned, including music, film, dance and visual art. This collective are truly performance dynamo! Resident at Nottingham Playhouse.


Catch Mouthy Poets on the opening night of the Sweet Like Cocoa festival, Tuesday 1 October from 7pm, with a performance themed on Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech.



Soul Simmitry (John Simmit)



Best known for playing Dipsy in BBC TV’s worldwide hit Teletubbies, comedian/DJ John Simmit has been called “a brave, hard hitting entertainer” & “the man who put black British comedy on the map” (The Guardian). Simmit’s many other TV credits range from The Gadget Show to The Real McCoy.


SOUL SIMMITRY is the new local outlet for John’s music brand that has grown out of positive audience responses to the music breaks between comedy sets. SOUL SIMMITRY nights are launching across the country, bringing classic old school black music back to dance floor . SOUL SIMMITRY nights mix  the best of 90s R&B, 80s Rare Grooves, reggae classics and funk jams into a unique dance brew, often with guest live appearances from some of the hit-makers on the tunes.


Expect hits from Blackstreet, Erykah Badu, Dennis Brown, Maxi Priest, Mary J Blige, Rose Royce, Soul II Soul, Jill Scott, Teena Marie and much, much more!



Tom Douce


Tom Douce Jr is mixed white/black Caribbean from Derby. His father was one of 450 Caribbean’s to travel on the HMS Windrush, the first boat to bring Caribbean immigrants to the UK in 1948. He was the founder of numerous extremely successful businesses in Derby including a hair and beauty salon, a corner shop and a transport company, priding himself on serving the community of which he became very much a staple.


Tom Jr has worked in the family’s various successful businesses since he was eight years old. He is a successful businessman and also an avid collector of books. A common misconception amongst Tom's customers is that he is always in the shop devoting all of his efforts to nurturing the family businesses. Indeed Tom is a determined businessman but he also travels widely. The exhibition of photographs in the Sweet Like Cocoa festivals will feature pictures from over 50 countries he has visited with an explanation of their significance to his life and history.  








Derby Dreams are a group of young, up and coming musicians on an important mission to raise awareness on the issues we all face, to commemorate 50 years since Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech.


Working together to make high quality music and films inspired by the speech, hear their findings in the project and their dreams for the future.












Artists association with Zen PR