The Root of It: Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon
Representing two generations of musicians, Bernice Johnson Reagon and her daughter, Toshi Reagon, connect to America's roots music traditions. They performed a repertoire of songs including spirituals and ballads as part of Berklee's Roots and Reason concert series and alluded to the stories those songs tell, offering a window into the cultural context that shaped them.
Johnson Reagon, a singer, composer, scholar, and social activist, founded the all-female a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1973. Her roles in the NPR/Smithsonian Institution series Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions (principal scolar, conceptual producer, and host) and PBS's documentary film series Africans in America: America's Journey Through Slavery (score composer)—both Peabody Award winners—illustrate her connection to her roots and her experience as a woman who lived through the racial struggles of the Civil Rights Movement.
Singer/songwriter Toshi Reagon has shared the stage with such artists as Lenny Kravitz, Ani DiFranco, Elvis Costello, and Meshell Ndegeocello.
The mother/daughter duo's performance was also part of the Warrick L. Carter Lecture series, for which they received distinguished artist plaques.