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SpotLights Emcee


Pinky Aiello

It's hard to keep track of Pinky! When she's not traveling thought the USA and Europe entertaining the world with her perspectives on video relay interpreting, you can find her in her future home -- Hawaii.

New versions of “Pinky Tells the Real Story: VRS” are being created for international audiences, and she continues to create other projects as co-founder of ASL Tales. You can find her video and her first two books on one of her websites and More projects are also under development.

Welcome her again to DeaFestival–Kentucky 2012 as she Emcees and performs on the SpotLights stage!


Clay and Levi Anderson

How often do you get to see Deaf and hearing twins on stage talking about their experiences as individuals or ... perhaps as twins? Hence, the Anderson twins, with their tad heavy, bald Deaf men coming in to provide the humor perspective to entertain the Deaf Communities, hearing or deaf alike, across the nation!

Levi and Clay Anderson grew up in the small New Mexico town of Milan. They were the only twins in the town, and Levi was the only Deaf child. They tried as hard as they could to be saints, but unfortunately trouble seemed to find them. And being in such a small town, their father would always be the first to know!

“This is where the boys get their sense of humor, they have been trying to impress people since they were in diapers!” said their dad, Frank Anderson.

Clay and Levi have come up with a show that will have you laughing out loud. Of course, the show is based on real-life events, made-up imaginations (realistic, of course!) and stuff that is impossible to be told but someone has to do this, right?

They join us again in 2012 for the fourth time and will appear in the Children’s program and SpotLights Main Stage.

Ed Chevy

Ed Chevy

Ed Chevy is a veteran performer and instructor in the field of pure entertainment. He also has achieved great success with the all-deaf rock band, Beethoven’s Nightmare, as a bassist and composer. His work as a deaf musician brought a new category, Deaf Rock, in the Mainstream.

Chevy lives in Oahu, Hawaii. He is recognized as a highly acclaimed American Sign Language (ASL) performing artist, captivating the audience with his music, storytelling and humor in the Pacific Rim and on the Mainland. Currently, Chevy is teaching ASL music and storytelling at a community college in Honolulu.

Welcome him to the SpotLights stage as he performs comedy with Bob Hiltermann and then appears in the Jam Tent as Beethoven’s Nightmare band rocks the house!

Peter Cook

Peter Cook

Peter S. Cook is an Internationally reputed Deaf performing artist whose works incorporates American Sign Language, pantomime, storytelling, acting, and movement. Peter has traveled extensively around the country and aboard with Flying Words Project to promote ASL Literature with Kenny Lerner since 1986. Peter has appeared in Live from Off Center’s “Words on Mouth” (PBS) and “ United States of Poetry” (PBS) produced by Emmy winner Bob Holman. Peter is also associate professor for ASL-English Interpretation at Columbia College Chicago where he received the 1997 Excellence in Teaching award. In 1998, Peter set up a video production called PC Production and have been producing more than ten videos including the award winning video, ‘A Gator Ride to the Dentist’.

Peter was featured nationally in festivals such as the Jonesboro National Storytelling Festival, Oklahoma City Winter Tales, Illinois Storytelling Festival, Indiana Hoosier Storytelling Festival, Eugene Oregon Multi-Cultural Festival, and The Deaf Way II and the Millennium Stage at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. Peter was invited to the White House to join the National Book Festival in 2003. Internationally, Peter has worked with Deaf storytellers/poets in Austria, Latvia, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Italy and Japan.

Peter can be contacted by email: DVD can be purchased thru

Tammy Ellis

Tamara “Tammy” Ellis is a nationally known Deaf entertainer. She first made her debut at various US schools for the Deaf and performed for audiences at Gallaudet University, Deaf Awareness functions and several Deaf Festivals across the country. Her performance captivates children and adults with mimic dialogue and improvisational skits that warm the hearts of every audience. She has built a reputation in the Deaf community with her performances and has worked with many renowned Deaf entertainers such as Peter Cook, Linda Bove, Chuck Baird, Bill Carwile, Phyllis Frelich, and C.J. Jones.

Tammy has performed at DeaFestival off and on since 1998 and we welcome her back in 2012 as she appears in the Children’s program as well as on the SpotLights stage.

Sean Forbes

Sean Forbes

Sean is a musician on a mission. An accomplished and passionate drummer, rhythm pours out of him, when he breathes, walks, types at his keyboard or hits his drums. Music is in his blood, his cells; it’s just the way he is. He’s also deaf – and out to build a badly needed bridge between the music industry and deaf people everywhere.

Sean grew up in Detroit where his parents, both musicians, filled their home with the sounds of the Motor City: Mitch Ryder, Bob Seger, the Funk Brothers and more. Despite losing his hearing as a baby, Sean soaked up the beats and the vibrations, experiencing great music in his own way.

Inspired by what he calls “The Three B’s” (the Beastie Boys, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan), Sean started out making music videos in his basement and today is producing professional music videos with a focus on the deaf and hard-of-hearing community. He is a voice for not only his generation but deaf culture. He is co-founder of D-PAN, The Deaf Professional Arts Network, a non-profit organization that focuses on translating popular artists' songs into American Sign Language music videos for the deaf and hard-of-hearing communities.

With his passion for music, Sean has opened the door to musical expression – a world historically considered off limits to people in the deaf community. His dream of music for all has helped to transform the way deaf people perceive music. Through his videos and his outreach to deaf people everywhere – particularly young people eager to feel included in popular culture – music is being presented to them as a beautiful symphony of thought and expression, available to all. The hearing community, too, is fascinated by his ASL translations of musical hits and is clamoring for more. Since 2008, Forbes has also performed in over 20 cities across the US and has appeared in front of over 15,000 people.

Sean Forbes is living proof that if you have enough passion and dedication, magic happens and dreams come true. “The world is run by those who show up,” he says, “And I’m showing up.”

TL Forsberg

TL Forsberg

Known for her emotional candidacy, as the HOH Singer in the award winning film “See What I’m Saying: The Deaf Entertainers Documentary.” TL Forsberg is a Canadian-born international performer: a singer, songwriter and performer who incorporates her original rock music, advante-grade fashion and Sign Language in one show stopping theatrical performance.

Recently honored with a pearl award for her innovative work as an artist in the Deaf community. TL proudly self-identifies “Deaf”, and continues to break boundaries in the universal perception of what it means to be Deaf, while using her music as a platform for advocacy, diversity, and the need for healing in all communities.

TL proudly completed her album “The Kriya Project”; has licensed over a dozen songs to TV & Film; wrote the theme song “DEAFinitely” for the first ever “Miss Deaf International Pageant”; appeared with rappers “CEE-LO” and “T-PAIN” on FUSE TV; appeared in VH1’s reality TV series “SUPERGROUP”; performed at the Alanis Morissette and Tori Amos concert; Much Music, MTV, Ozzfest, 105.3 Rock Radio,and was voted one of “LA’s best kept secrets” by Music Connection Magazine.

TL just recently completed her first music video for her debut song “LIQUID LOVE” the soundtrack theme song for the teenage vampire film “Chastity Bites.” After seeing her story in “See What I’m Saying”, TL was recently written in as an ongoing cast member playing “Olivia” on the ABC Disney Family Series, “SWITCHED AT BIRTH” and invited to perform next to finalist Chris Mann on NBC’s “THE VLOICE.” TL is quickly gaining success as an international touring artist, an actress, advocate and speaker.

For more information please visit:

Bob Hiltermann

Bob Hiltermann

Drummer – Bob is a multi-talented musician who performs magic tricks in addition to playing the keyboard, drums, and percussion. Born in Germany and raised in Canada, he was influenced by the classical musicians within his family. He met Steve Longo and Ed Chevy at Gallaudet University, where the three formed America’s first deaf rock and roll band, The Funk; the rest is history. Bob appeared in the critically acclaimed motion picture Children of a Lesser God, the CBS television movie A Bridge to Silence and numerous other TV series and commercials. Bob also writes songs, poems screenplays, and TV pilots. He was recently part of the "See What I'm Saying" phenomena. Bob also writes songs, poems screenplays, and TV pilots.

Welcome him to SpotLights as he performs with Ed Chevy and then when he appears in the Jam Tent when Beethoven's Nightmare Band rocks the house!

Antoine Hunger

Antoine Hunger and the Urban Jazz Dance Company

A native and resident of Oakland, California, Antoine Hunter is founder and director of Urban Jazz Dance Company. He’s been called “a one-man firestorm.” He participated in Philadelphia’s Deaf Arts & Culture PaH! Festival and at Night of the Stars at the Black Deaf Advocates Eastern Regional Conference.

He tours with his own company and with others—currently five of them—and teaches children and adults in over 13 locations, 6 days a week, including East Bay Center of the Performing Arts, Dance-a-Vision Entertainment, Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, and Malonga Casquelourd Center for the Arts. It's a hectic. crammed schedule, but he loves what he's doing—dancing and bringing professional-quality teaching to children, teens, and adults who would otherwise not be getting it at all.

Dance, he learned, is a universal language, rather like sign language. Every nation has a different sign language, and there are many kinds of dance showing the influence of many cultures, but even if you're not familiar with the cultural background of a particular kind of dance, you can still enjoy it, be moved by it, and understand it.

Hunter has mastered and teaches ballet, hip-hop, modern jazz, praise dance, African, and creative movement. He loves the challenge of teaching, and wants to make dance as accessible to as many people as he can, including those from bad neighborhoods or who have no previous training.

Growing up, Hunter experienced isolation and taunting, being made to feel "different and weird." That's one reason why he cherishes his experiences and hopes to continue to have more.

Matthew "Magic" Morgan

Matthew & Liliana Morgan

Matthew's grandfather introduced him to magic at the age of six, and ever since, Matthew has been fascinated with all things magic. Creating illusions is Matthew’s true art, his magic skills have been perfected in countless performances across the country.

Under the stage name 'Magic Morgan', Matthew Morgan has been invited to appear throughout the United States and abroad. Magic Morgan combines the arts of illusion, close-up magic, and comedy to mystify the audience, regardless of age. Some of the tricks up his sleeve feature live animals during his magical performances. On top of these surprises, Magic Morgan's unique blend of humor and mime is sure to thrill any audience!

He recently gained a partner, a wife, Liliana who is a dancer herself and grew up in Russia. Matthew met her during one of his visits abroad, fell in love and worked to bring her to America. They have two children. Both Matthew and Liliana will appear at this year’s DeaFestival-Kentucky!

Crom Saunders

Crom Saunders

Crom Saunders decided, on a whim, to write in “Deaf” under ethnicity on a fifth-grade survey and has remained that way ever since. Crom was once a character in a 1920’s farce but after the show was canceled, he never got the memo and kept on evolving into a real person-like Pinocchio, but without the creepy puppet stuff. Crom feeds off the energy of live audiences, and therefore tries to be in front of one as much as possible, all over the world. Crom’s lifetime goal is to perform his “Moses the Cat” in a new sign language at least once every year. Crom tends to make a lot of stuff up, or be funny, or at least funny-looking while on stage. He writes stuff. He does stuff. He’s a stuff expert. Crom also has the most amazing pair of eyebrows ever seen in 21st century America.

WaWa Snipe

Warren "WaWa" Snipe

When you go to "Wawa's House”, you’ll be taken to a whole new level of music through DEAF eyes! Yes, deaf as in can't hear - but wears hearing aids and he speaks and signs - ALL VERY WELL!. This multi-talented performer with a fan base across the nation and beyond is originally from Philadelphia, now residing in the Washington, DC area. This consummate entertainer has been performing since childhood and has and does nearly everything in the entertainment world, plus traveled the globe for the past dozen years. Known affectionately as "WAWA", Warren Snipe has written powerful poems and songs and his passion for music grew to a point that he had to share with the world. So watch out 'MAINSTREAM' music/rap/sign-dance world...HERE COMES "DIP-HOP" ... doing what Wawa does best…..breaking down barriers and taking on challenges. Wawa's the type that likes to break down barriers, every day in every way moving one step closer to his life's personal put Deaf recording artists on the mainstream music map! The world's going to know a new music genre: DIP-HOP (Deaf hip-hop). DIP HOP is Hip-Hop thru deaf eyes. Nowadays people see and understand Hip-Hop through hearing culture but what about the deaf? Wawa's lyrics take you into the Deaf World. Using a wide variety of music genre (Dip-Hop, Hip-Hop, House, Fusion, etc), Wawa's making sure that the Deaf community is getting HEARD! Spread the LOVE!

Wawa will serve as emcee of the 51st Biennial Conference Opening Ceremonies to be held at the Louisville Bats baseball stadium, and will perform for the audience as well.


Wild Zappers

Wild Zappers / National Deaf Dance Theater – Invisible Hands, Inc.

With a powerful combination of American Sign Language, music and dance, the Wild Zappers focus on the beauty of dance, theater and sign language, giving audiences an opportunity to experience professional performing arts of the deaf.

Founded in 1989 by Irvine Stewart with the support of Fred Michael Beam and Warren “Wawa” Snipe, they promote cultural and educational awareness through entertainment within deaf and hearing communities.

Based in Prince George’s County, Maryland, members of The Wild Zappers, mostly Jazz/Funk/Hip Hop dancers, have a wide variety of performance experience and theater affiliations. The Wild Zappers have appeared at Gallaudet University, the Kennedy Center’s Millenium Stage, Miss Deaf DC, Black Family Reunion, DC Black Expo, Miss Deaf Maryland, and numerous government agencies. Around the country, they have performed at the Apollo Theater in Harlem; Imagination Celebration in Forth Worth, Texas; Walt Disney World, Orlando, Florida; and Deaf festivals in many states. The troupe has also toured Japan, Jamaica, and the Virgin Islands, and visited Brisbane, Australia for the World Federation of the Deaf.


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