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3 Lafayette Ave, Brooklyn
Two magnificent artists of the music world, singer/songwriter Toshi Reagon, and her mentor, music pioneer June Millington, come together to talk about artist activism and why they make music. Throughout the evening, Reagon and Millington will perform selections of their critically-acclaimed work.
Toshi Reagon, since 17, has moved audiences of all kinds with her big-hearted, hold-nothing-back approach to rock, blues, R&B, country, folk, spirituals and funk, leading her band—BIGLovely, launched in 1996. She has collaborated with Lenny Kravitz, Nona Hendryx, Elvis Costello, Ani DiFranco, Pete Seeger, Dar Williams, Lizz Wright, Meshell Ndegeocello and her mother, Bernice Johnson Reagon. She composed and served as musical director for Urban Bush Women, LAVA, and the Jane Comfort Dance Company. Her work was featured in The Secret Life of Bees, PBS/WGBH’s Africans in America, and The L Word. Reagon collaborated with director Robert Wilson and Bernice Johnson Reagon on The Temptation of St. Anthony, and served as producer for Carl Hancock Rux and on CDs for Sweet Honey in the Rock. Some of Reagon’s proudest moments have included playing for her godfather Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday celebration. She performed with the Freedom Singers at the White House in President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s tribute to the music of the Civil Rights Movement. Reagon received an Out Music Award, the Black Lily Award for Outstanding Performance and a New York Foundation for the Arts award. She was one of several women honored by the National Women’s History Project.
June Millington and her sister Jean have been playing music since they were children strumming ukuleles in the Philippines. In the US, during the ‘60s, they turned in their acoustic guitars for electric and formed a succession of all-girl bands that eventually became Fanny, one of the first all-female rock bands to be signed to a major label. Fanny toured worldwide with bands like Chicago and Dr. John, and while recording in major studios Millington began to study sound recording and producing. After Fanny, Millington became involved in the women’s music movement and was asked to play on tour with Cris Williamson’s The Changer and the Changed. “Women’s music” quickly evolved into an independent feminist music network, and Millington began to produce albums for, among others, Williamson, singer-songwriter Holly Near, and jazz pianist and composer Mary Watkins. June and Jean continued to record and perform throughout the 80’s and 90’s. June, together with her partner Ann Hackler, founded the Institute for the Musical Arts (IMA). June and Jean’s latest CD is Play Like a Girl.
Classically Black is never stagnant nor does it pander to aesthetic mandates and rules around method, structure, or form that have historically excluded perspectives that emerged from the African diaspora.