2007 Honorees

Toshi ReagonToshi Reagon
(b.1964) 

Musician, Songwriter, Blending Every American Style of Music

Toshi Reagon was born in Atlanta in 1964 and currently lives in New York City. A musician known for her energetic performances, she has an exemplary gift for writing engaging songs that provoke listeners to think and have fun at the same time. She is an amazing artist who in some ways is a throwback to classic R & B artists, like Stevie Wonder or Prince, or old school rock group like Led Zeppelin.  With incredible ease, she can take any style, update it, and make it her own.  Despite (or because of) her genre-bending, Reagon fits comfortably on a stage at Carnegie Hall, or in a dirty rock club.

A seasoned live performer, Reagon jumped into the spotlight when she dropped out of college after Lenny Kravitz tapped her to open for him on his first world tour. She hasn't stopped earning the respect of musicians, the praise of critics, and the love of fans since then. She performs in diverse venues from Carniegie Hall to the recently closed famous underground rock venue CBGB's

Whether playing solo or with her band, her fusion of styles and forms draws listeners in, embraces them and sets them off in a rapturous, hand-raising, foot-stomping delight. Reagon often leaves the stage with the audience clapping and screaming for more.  She has produced eight albums and has collaborated on over 16 other recordings and served as music director for a variety of musical productions and dozens of folk festivals.  She has composed music for several films including being the co-composer for the Peabody award winning film, Beah: A Black Woman Speaks. In 2004, she received the NYFA award for Music Composition

Reagon’s musical abilities were nourished by her family. In the 1960s, both of her parents belonged to SNCC’s (Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee) The Freedom Singers, a folk group that sprung from the Civil Rights movement and toured the country to teach people about civil rights through song. Her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon, is the founder of the world renowned à capella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock. Reagon and her mom have collaborated on many projects together including co-producing many of Sweet Honey’s recordings. Their latest project is “The Temptation of St. Anthony” a musical-theater work based on a tale by Gustave Flaubert. Reagon wrote the instrumental arrangements and currently serves as the production’s musical director.

Her rich musical heritage led Reagon to become saturated in many traditional styles of music.  Her music is a tribute to the brilliance of previous generations of musicians and her talent, creativity and originality demonstrate the expansive and dynamic ways that this woman is moving history forward.