During her fellowship, Toshi will organize a New York City–wide festival, WORD*ROCK*&SWORD: A Festival Celebration of Women’s Lives—All Are Welcome, focused on women’s rights, talents, and artistry, and the impact of creativity on communities.
Toshi Reagon has been performing professionally since she graduated from high school. Described as a “one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive, and uplifting in American music,” she has mastered folk and funk, blues and rock, and sacred and traditional music formats and is now working in music/theater and opera. Toshi’s irresistible personality and activism, combined with her singular approach to music and song, has a galvanizing effect on her audiences. She has collaborated with diverse musical artists and her band, BIGLovely, to perform at venues around the world. She has produced more than 15 albums and benefit recordings.
In addition to her work on stage, Toshi’s music has been included in numerous films and television shows. She has served as curator for the Schomburg Center’s Women’s Jazz Festival; the Black Rock Coalition’s Deep Roots of Rock and Roll; and Celebrate! The Great Women of Blues and Jazz, a 17-piece women’s blues and jazz ensemble. Toshi has also collaborated as conductor, musician, and instrumental composer/arranger, with Robert Wilson and Bernice Johnson Reagon on the operas The Temptation of St. Anthony (2003) and Zinnias: The Life of Clementine Hunter (2013). She is currently working on adapting Octavia E. Butler’s post-apocalyptic novel Parable of the Sower into an opera.