Written by Anthony Moujaes
The combined performances of mother-daughter social activists and musicians Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon are rare, but they are certainly profound and welcome presentations. United Church of Christ members from across the life of the church will see one of those rare occurrences this summer when the duo entertains at General Synod 2013.
Bernice Johnson Reagon is a scholar, singer/song leader and social activist. Her strongest musical collaborator is her daughter, Toshi Reagon, composer, producer, founder and leader of her own ensemble, Toshi Reagon and Big Lovely; described as "a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music.
Collaboratively these two socially-conscious women artists have created two operas, "The Temptation of St Anthony," and "Zinnias, The Life of Clementine Hunter," the music score for "Africans in America" on PBS and "BEAH: A Black Woman Speaks" for HBO, and numerous studio recordings.
"To see these two extraordinary women perform is very powerful, and both of them have such great presence on stage with their music," said W. Mark Clark, UCC Associate General Minister and General Synod Administrator. "We’re certainly looking forward to seeing them perform together. It should be one of many moments people at General Synod will remember for a long time."
The General Synod gathering, June 28-July 2 in Long Beach, Calif., is expected to bring more than 2,500 delegates and visitors to the Long Beach Convention Center for five days of worship, work, education and advocacy.
Bernice Johnson Reagon has been a profound contributor to African American and American culture for over a half century. Born is Southwest Georgia, her singing style and traditional repertoire is grounded in her experiences in church, school, and political activism. As a composer, she has created a narrative of her social and political activism through her songs and larger compositions. She performed as a member of the SNCC Freedom Singers during the sixties, she founded an all women acapella ensemble, The Harambee Singers during the Black Cultural Movement, and she founded and led the internationally acclaimed Sweet Honey In The Rock for 30 years until retirement. Paralleling her work in music, Reagon is one of the leading authorities in African American Cultural History.
Taking the stage at age 17, singer, songwriter, guitarist, Toshi Reagon moves audiences with her cross-genre offerings of blues, rock, gospel, and incredible original songs.
Whenever the opportunity presents, Bernice Johnson Reagon and Toshi Reagon join each other on stage in live performance, as they will at this summer at General Synod 2013.