Cedric Walker

Born: Baltimore, Maryland Company: UniverSoul Circus Position: CEO Industry: Entertainment Country: United States

Cedric Walker is the founder and CEO of UniverSoul Circus. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Walker's entrepreneur spirit started at the young age of 6. He was determined to make extra money. He shined shoes. He sold such things as Christmas cards, Kool Aid Popsicles, and fruits and vegetables from a horse-drawn cart. He even collected for UNICEF.

Walker was first bitten by the entertainment bug in the early 70's when he moved to Tuskegee to live with his uncle a nightclub owner. That's where he met and later teamed up with a promising young musical group called the Commodores. Cedric became their production and stage manager and toured with them around the world. He later worked as a promoter for the Jackson Five.

Walker admits that, even at this point in his life, he was so fond of the circus that he would have quit the Commodores and the Jackson 5 to run away with the circus – as a maintenance man.

He struck out on his own in the 1980s when he organized the Fresh Festivals, the world's first Rap music tour featuring the likes of Run DMC, Salt n Peppa and The Fat Boys. In the early 1990s, he underwrote and helped produce a couple of highly successful gospel plays, "Wicked Ways" and "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

By the mid 1990s, Walker and his associates began to look for new forms of family entertainment: "The vision was to explore the various talents other than singing and dancing that black performers had to offer," he said. "We wanted to apply our gathered years of experience in the live appearance industry, to make a difference, to change the industry we lived in, creating growth and opportunity." That vision led him to create UniverSoul Circus.

The historic first show of "The Universal Big Top Circus," as it was originally named, took place in 1994 in the parking lot of Fulton County Stadium in Atlanta. In those early days, from a financial standpoint, the circus lost every penny that was put into it. But the show received rave reviews from critics and fans alike. The response inspired Walker to continue with his dream of running away with the circus. Now in its 12 th season, UniverSoul Circus is playing to packed houses from coast to coast.

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