Toshi Reagon

Profile

The musical polymath Toshi Reagon (1964) is a singer, guitarist, composer, musical director, librettist, curator and producer, and founder of the band BIGLovely. Her musical universe has encompassed a variety of genres since the very beginning of her career as an artist, and includes folk, funk, the blues and rock. Reagon began performing on the folk festival circuit at the age of seventeen, and was invited to join Lenny Kravitz on his very first world tour in 1990. She released her debut album, Justice, the same year. Since then she has performed everywhere from the Carnegie Hall and Madison Square Garden to the Paris Opera House, and worked with a raft of influential musicians such as Ani DiFranco, Elvis Costello, Carl Hancock Rux and Meshell Ndegeocello.

Reagon is the recipient of an NYFA Award for Music Composition, has composed music for two Peabody Award-winning films, and received The Black Lily Music and Film Festival Award for Outstanding Performance. She was made an honouree of the National Women's History Month in 2007 for her work and activism, received OutMusic’s Heritage Award in 2010, and was named an Art of Change Fellow by the Ford Foundation in 2015. That same year, The Blues Project, a dance performance with Dorrance Dance for which she provided music, won a Bessie Award. Social activism runs through Reagon’s veins. Her parents are Bernice Johnson Reagon and Cordell Hull Reagon, both prominent figures in the American civil rights movement, and the young Reagon grew up with an understanding of music’s capacity for uniting and mobilizing people. Reagon’s previous collaborations with her mother include music and the libretto for The Temptation of St. Anthony (2003) and Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter (2013), an opera based on a novel by Jacqueline Woodson and directed by Robert Wilson.