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May 13, 2004

Bernice Johnson Reagon with Guest Artist Toshi Reagon to Sing "Freedom Songs" at the Library of Congress

Concert Will Feature Songs and Music of the Civil Rights Movement

Bernice Johnson Reagon and guest artist Toshi Reagon will sing "Freedom songs" at a free concert event at noon on Tuesday, June 8, in the Coolidge Auditorium in the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building, 10 First Street S.E., Washington, D.C. Songs of the Freedom Singers and the music of the civil rights movement will highlight this stirring concert. The one-hour concert event is open to the public; no tickets are required.

Bernice Johnson Reagon, Ph.D., was a founding member of the Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee Freedom Singers, a folk group that grew out of the civil rights movement and aimed to educate audiences about civil rights through song. She adapted the powerful forms of African American spirituals and folk music to give voice to the civil rights struggle and later battle against all types of oppression.

A multiple award-winning musician and scholar, Reagon is a Distinguished Professor of History at American University and is a former curator at the Smithsonian Institution. Specializing in African American oral and performance traditions, Reagon has conceived and consulted on numerous landmark media projects, including the Smithsonian Peabody Award-winning series "Wade in the Water: African American Sacred Music Traditions"; the award-winning "Eyes on the Prize" series; the Emmy award-winning "We Shall Overcome"; and "Roots of Resistance: A Story of the Underground Railroad," all produced for PBS. Her many publications include "We'll Understand It Better Bye and Bye: Pioneering African-American Gospel Composers" and "Voices of the Civil Rights Movement: Black American Freedom Songs 1960-1965." Reagon recently retired, after 30 years, from performing with Sweet Honey in the Rock, the internationally renowned and Grammy award-winning a cappella ensemble she founded in 1973.!

Bernice Reagon's daughter, Toshi Reagon, grew up in the midst of her mother's musical influence, eventually carving out a niche as a performer in her own right. Reagon was born in Atlanta and raised in Washington, D.C. She has worked with artists of many styles, including Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, Vernon Reid and Chaka Kahn and made appearances at the Lilith Festival, Carnegie Hall and the Smithsonian Folklife Festival. Reagon's previous albums include her 1994 self-released debut, "The Rejected Stone"; Smithsonian Folkways "Kindness" in 1997; and the acclaimed 1999 release, "The Righteous Ones."

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PR 04-101
05/13/04
ISSN 0731-3527

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