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Grand Divas

2019: Amanda Shaw

Mix a little bit of country and Cajun, with a touch of Rock-n-Roll and Blues, and you have a funky Louisiana flavor that fiddler and singer Amanda Shaw brings every time her high heels dance across a stage. Amanda's passion for her culture is evident in the diverse blend of music she creates with every note. 

2018: Stephanie Burks

Stephanie Burks, Co- Founder, Vice- President, and Division Leader of Administration for RYCARS Construction, LLC, is the spearhead of the RYCARS brand.  RYCARS Construction, LLC began operations in 2002 out of an office in her home.  The name of the company was extremely important to Stephanie.  It needed to hold great value for generations to come.  Stephanie derived the name of the company by creating an acronym using each family member’s first name. As Vice-President and Divisional Leader of Administration, Stephanie oversees the Accounting Department, Human Resources Department, and other daily administrative duties.  She has built a strong team of professionals in her department in which she enjoys watching them grow and develop in the construction industry.

2017: Robin Barnes

With a voice that is as powerful with a whisper as it is with a scream, Robin Barnes is here to stun audiences across the globe. Robin’s musical talents are rooted in more than her hometown, it runs in her blood. The New Orleans songstress grew up in a household of musicians with her family’s jazz band, The Soul Heirs and her Rock and Roll Hall of Fame cousin, Dave Bartholomew. She is honored to be a part of the next generation of greats coming out of the Big Easy.

Photo Credit: Where Y'at Magazine

2016: Angela Hill

In April 1975, Angela Hill was hired as the consumer reporter for WWL-TV.  In September 1975, Angela became the first female anchor at WWL-TV.  Angela has been nationally recognized for her contributions as an American journalist. She has been awarded the following national awards: Gabriel Award, Gracie Awards and Freedoms Foundation Award. Angela's interviewees included notable actors, authors, fashion designers, musicians, and politicians including Oprah Winfrey, Anne Rice, Bill Clinton, Lindy Boggs, and Oscar de la Renta. On June 6, 2013, the New Orleans City Council honored Angela for more than 35 years of service in New Orleans. She is very active in the non-profit community and often recognized for her support of animals.

2015: Irma Thomas

The “Soul Queen of New Orleans”, Irma Thomas, reigned as FestiGals 2015 Grand Diva. A native to the New Orleans area, Thomas began her singing career at the age of 13 and released her first single "You Can Have My Husband but Don't Mess with My Man," six years later. Today, the Grammy-award winning Thomas continues to be an influential force in the music industry and New Orleans community.  She is also an avid supporter and volunteer for the Irma Thomas W.I.S.E. (Women in Search of Excellence) Center at Delgado Community College.

2014: Lisa Sins

Lisa Sins, our 2014 Grand Diva, was a tourism advocate and worked for Arnaud’s as director of sales for 34 years. She was known for her incredible spirit and was a mentor to many entering the hospitality industry. Sins received the New Orleans Convention and Visitor Bureau's Captain Katz Hat's Off Award twice for her exceptional skills in hospitality. She died of breast cancer in 2015.

2013: Lydia Benson

Our 2013 Grand Diva, Lydia Benson, truly represents the spirit of the Stiletto Stroll.  She was “born to party” on a Mardi Gras Day!   Benson is past president and a current member of the Pussyfooters, a board member of Ladies Make Parades, and a member of Lady Rollers Social Aid and Pleasure Club and 2015 Queen.  She is also past president of the board of the Metropolitan Center for Women and Children, the Pussyfooter’s designated charity, and a breast cancer survivor.

2012: Kelly Schultz

Kelly Schultz is a PR executive best known for her role at the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau to rebuild New Orleans' $5 billion tourism industry and help restore the city's image following Hurricane Katrina. A New Orleans native and member of the first FestiGals Dynamic Diva Advisory Committee, Kelly was joined as Grand Diva in 2012 by her puppy, Beignet, who was dressed in a red and black sequin "off-the-shoulder number" custom-made for him as the FestiDog.

2011: Margarita Bergen

According to New Orleans Living Magazine, “If you haven’t met Margarita Bergen, you probably haven’t been to a New Orleans party in 30 years”.  Known for her presence at soirees, wild hats, irrepressible spirit and endless enthusiasm, Bergen served as the first FestiGals Grand Diva in 2011.  She was the owner of Casell Bergen Gallery, a society columnist and blogger, arts enthusiast and creator of the monthly Round Table Luncheon, patterned after those hosted by Dorothy Parker at the Algonquin.

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