Ike Torres is an interdisciplinary artist and writer who performs his work. He blends storytelling, comedy, and spoken word into live theater. Ike has performed in venues and college campuses across the country as well as toured internationally. Ike has three solo plays, Scatterbrained (2015), manCHILD (2021) and A Cosmic Ray of Sunshine (2022). His poet’s philosophy is, “Tragicomedy is my preferred mode of expression. I present the many shades of humanity in my work. Art is the key to life. I live for the moment when the curtain rises, and you must do it.”
Raquel Ruiz is a poet, teacher, journalist, and events organizer. She is an Independent non-fiction/fiction writer freelancing for media outlets in the USA, Canada, Latin America & Europe. She serves as Board of Directors for Teatro Nagual as the Multimedia & Marketing Specialist Consultant where she works to increase visibility and interest in artistic experimental new performances. Additionally, she is on the Board of Directors for Amherst Writers and Artists.
Ruiz is the recipient of the Jose Marti National Silver Award in Education and Immigration. She is a writer for the Associated Press, the Spanish newspaper chain in the USA, Impremedi and the European magazine ECOS based in Germany. In Canada, she has published articles alongside her photography in critical newspapers for the Canadian Olympic Committee. She served as the Twitter expert for the prestigious newspaper The Guardian, in the UK, during the 2012 Olympic Games in London.
Ruiz was recently awarded Best Performance with Accompaniment for the inaugural S’more Poetry and Song Competition in 2022. Ruiz is a resident of Roseville and Placer County.
J ROSS PARRELLI
J Ross Parrelli is what it would sound like if Joss Stone had been raised in the same duplex as Notorious B.I.G. Signed to Universal Records, J Ross Parrelli’s repertoire includes rap battles and festival stages from the Bronx to the Bay.
The sultry songstress turned community cultivator, Parrelli has spoken and performed at youth leadership and educational conferences all over the globe. Her interest in education reform led her to found Beats, Lyrics, Leaders through which she is developing Hip Hop based curriculum now in schools, foster youth programs, juvenile delinquency facilities, military youth Academies, and native reservations all over US. Serving as a Board of education Trustee, her focus is providing access, resources, and opportunities to all students.
Parelli holds an M.A in Leadership and Policy in Education from Mills College, Oakland, Ca. and a B.A. Human Development from California State University at Long Beach, (CSULB), Long Beach, Ca. She is the recipient of an Arts Council & Placer County Community Grant 2017-2020. The accomplished performing artist served as a Teaching Artist/Program Director/Youth Advocate/ Mentor/ Artist for the Auburn Hip Hop Congress. She is an Auburn Union School District Board Trustee.
916 Ink is Sacramento’s arts-based creative writing and literacy nonprofit that provides workshops and tutoring to transform Sacramento youth into strong readers, confident communicators, and published authors. Our programs increase literacy skills, improve vocabulary, teach empathy, positively impact social and emotional learning, and expand communication skills. We envision a Sacramento region where every child and teen is given access to a culturally relevant creative writing program that leads them to believe in themselves and to understand the power of the written word.
Raised by two teachers, they have always had a passion for education and spent their elementary years holding "nature studies" in their room. After graduating high school, they moved from their hometown Chandler, Minnesota to Sacramento to serve in AmeriCorps City Year. As a City Year member, they developed a passion for student empowerment and advocacy both in and outside of the classroom. In 2019, Zuzu began volunteering with 916 Ink and fell in love with the method and the opportunity provided to students to write without restraint. They eventually became a Wordslinger/Workshop Facilitator and Read On! Program Coordinator, to support striving readers reach reading grade level. Outside of 916 Ink, they volunteer with the GreenHouse, an after school program in the Gardenland/Northgate neighborhood, loves journaling, and is an activist and organizer with the Sunrise Movement, dedicated to climate justice and a livable future for all people.
Sara Knudson is a Wordslinger, writer, equestrian, and gardener living in the greater Sacramento area. As a kid, she once attempted to put together a writing group in a barn. The group met in a horse stall and sat in the hay manger to read. Unfortunately, the writing group dissolved when everyone chose to go adventuring down an abandoned railroad track, where they discovered a haunted house covered in ivy. This eventually became inspiration for a short story Sara wrote later. Sara has been writing poetry and stories since she was nine years old, and has participated in many National Novel Writing Month marathons. Her first novel attempt was a fifty-page novel that, unfortunately, disappeared when the computer crashed a few years later. Over the years, Sara attended a couple writing workshops with Nina Amir and Amy Gigi Alexander. In 2018, Sara was accepted into Sarah Lawrence College’s MFA program. She spent the next two years in New York writing and taking part in several wonderful internship and volunteer experiences. She has since finished a rough draft of a science-fiction novel, been a guest editor for Breadcrumbs magazine, and taught a novel-writing class at The Writing Institute at Sara Lawrence College in 2021. She is very grateful to be able to write every day, hear stories from new voices, and sling words around a room.
Omari Tau is the Professor of Vocal Music at Cosumnes River College. He is director of the Contemporary Gospel Choir, voice classes, Chamber Singers, and is the Applied Music coordinator. Tau is Co-Founding Artistic Director of Rogue Music Project, a member of the band Solabel.
He is known primarily as a singer of styles ranging from classical and musical theater to pop, jazz, and R&B. Similarly, his experiences as an artist intersect across broad spectrums including composition, performance, and both musical and stage direction.
The accomplished thespian, vocalist and educator is a graduate of Michigan State University with a degree in Music Education. He received his Master of Music in Vocal Performance at the University of Houston - Moores School of Music. Tau's exploration led to performing in avant-garde musical styles at Fondation Royaumont’s Voix Nouvelle in France, and singing in operas at Houston’s Opera In The Heights.
Later, he explored musicals such as Disney’s The Lion King – a show in which he toured internationally for nearly nine years. He performed during the renowned tour in the role of "Banzai" alongside the Cheetah and Gazelle companies. In 2022, Tau was commissioned by Disney on Broadway to create a composition celebrating the occasion of the 25th anniversary of The Lion King.
His ensemble MôD Artists were recipients of the Sacramento Region Community Grant Foundation’s Creative Economy grant, and he alone is one of five recipients of the 2022-2023 Gloria Burt Fellowship. In the region, Tau has worked with Broadway Music Circus, Sacramento Philharmonic & Opera, Santa Cruz Symphony, Modesto Symphony, Music in the Mountains, and others.
Charron Andrus is an author, gerontologist, technologist, and inspirational speaker. Her writing spans genres, from poetry to career and personal development.
Charron began writing as a child and in 2010 launched the blog, The Candy Shoppe. After running the blog and writing for several other online sites she published her first chapbook in 2013, Words That Occur in the Absence of Love.
Charron M. Andrus found her voice in the written word when she took the plunge into the world of public writing. She founded the writing blog, The Candy Shoppe in 2006. Currently, she is working on her first novel "Cracks".
She is passionate about advocating for spaces that allow people to show up as their whole selves. Charron received her B.S. in Organizational Leadership from Biola University and her M.A. in Gerontology from the University of Southern California.
Claire is a mixed CHamoru poet who was raised on Nisenan and Miwok lands, also known as Sacramento. She is proud of her Micronesian heritage and aims to build and provide community for fellow Micronesians, youth artists, and minorities, promising communities in general. Through poetry, White seeks to actively witness how our ancestors and community members have paved the path for us to honor and protect the waters, the land, and each other.
Her poem “Potso-mu'' was published in the Ohio Progressive Asian Women’s Leadership (OPAWL) anthology Quaranzine. White’s chapbook The Odds was published in 2015. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies of Susurrus with Sacramento City College and Voices with the California State University, Sacramento.
She previously served as the Lead Writing Facilitator for 916 Ink for two years. She has worked as an elementary teacher, a creative writing facilitator, and a policy analyst, and recently completed her term as delegate to the California Democratic Party.
DELGRETA BROWN – Alternate Judge & POL Coordinator
Delgreta Brown is a Multidisciplinary Artist who works at the intersections of Visual and Literary Art. Her work in the Creative Arts spans over a decade of experience including: performance poetry as a Spoken Word Artist under the moniker “Amariginal”, as Member of Sacramento Poetry Slam Competitive Team “SuperCaliFlowLinguistic”, as a published Poet and as a Contemporary and Afrofuturism Visual Artist.
Brown is a former Arts & Culture Journalist for the Sacramento Press and former Editor with the Sacramento Observer Newspaper. The self-taught Visual Artist is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana. Brown served as an Artist Judge for the 2022 High School Self-Portrait Competition with Chalk It Up. She served as an Artist Mentor in the 2021 Catalyst Emerging Artist Program through the E. Claire Raley Studios for the Performing Arts (CLARA). She also served as an Artist Mentor with the 2018 Tearing Walls Apart immersive public art initiative for highschool students in Northern California. Additionally, Brown served as Youth Artist for the Sacramento County Children and Families Commission (1999-2000). Currently, she serves as a Board Member of the Arts Council of Placer County.
She is an awardee of the 2021 "Right to Heal" Digital Zine from the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network: Centering Mental Health Multi-Racial Equity for her poem, “The Cost of Black Tears” and published artwork “Kings of Coarse.”