From NYUAD The Arts Center:
The extraordinary American singer-songwriter-guitarist Toshi Reagon’s new opera blends science fiction with African American spiritualism to construct a mesmerizing meditation on the future of human civilization.
Adapted from the post-apocalyptic novel by Octavia Butler, the extraordinary American singer-songwriter-guitarist Toshi Reagon’s new opera blends science fiction with African-American spiritualism and deep insights on gender and race to construct a mesmerizing meditation on the future of human civilization. Written in collaboration with her mother Bernice Johnson Reagon, the iconic singer and founder of the vocal group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Parable of the Sower is a work of rare power and beauty: at once philosophically profound and a wild entertainment.
“Fierce and uncompromising…a shower of retro funk, urban blues, and folk…to hear her is to believe.”
—The New Yorker
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Toshi Reagon, (Librettist, Composer and Music Director- Parable of the Sower) is a singer, composer, musician, producer, founder and leader of her own ensemble, Toshi Reagon and Big Lovely; described as “a one-woman celebration of all that’s dynamic, progressive and uplifting in American music. Taking the stage at 17, singer, songwriter, guitarist, Toshi Reagon moves audiences with her cross genre offerings of rock, blues, folk, sacred music, and incredible original songs. Toshi has shared the stage and collaborated with many artist including Lizz Wright, Michelle N’degeocello, Carl Hancock Rux, Ani DiFranco and Nona Hendrix. As a composer she has worked with the Brooklyn based dance company LAVA, Urban Bush Women, and The Jane Comfort Dance Co. Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely are currently touring The Blues Project with world renowned tap dancer Michelle Dorrance and Dorrance Dance. She is the curator for the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture Women’s Jazz Festival. Toshi also founded WORD*ROCK*&SWORD: A Festival Exploration of Women’s Lives- All Are Welcome, a community festival that takes place throughout NYC every September. Her favorite collaborator is her mother Bernice Johnson Reagon ( Librettist, Composer- Parable of the Sower) Collaboratively these two master socially conscious women artists, have created two operas, “The Temptation of St Anthony,” and “Zinnias, The Life of Clementine Hunter,” the music score for “Africans in America” on PBS and “BEAH: A Black Woman Speaks” for HBO, and numerous studio recordings.
Parable of the Sower Cast and Musicians
Bertilla Baker, Helga Davis, Karma Mayet Johnson, Tamar-kali, Morley Kamen, Marcelle Davies Lashley, Josette Newsam Marchak, Carl Hancock Rux, Shayna Small, and Jason C. Walker. Musicians: Robert Burke, Fred Cash, Juliette Jones, and Adam Widoff.
“…one of the most compelling performers on the modern-rock scene.”
—The New York Times
Bernice Johnson Reagon, scholar, singer/songleader, activist. For over half a century she has been a profound contributor to African American and American culture. Born is Southwest Georgia, her singing style and traditional repertoire is grounded in her experiences in church, school, and political activism. As a composer, she has created a narrative of her social and political activism through her songs and larger compositions. She performed as a member of the SNCC Freedom Singers during the sixties, she founded an all women a cappella ensemble, The Harambee Singers during the Black Cultural Movement, She founded and led the internationally acclaimed “Sweet Honey In The Rock” for thirty years until retirement. Paralleling her work in music, Reagon is one of the leading authorities in African American Cultural History. She is a recipient of the Heinz Award for arts and Humanities, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the Presidential Medal and Charles E Frankel Prize for Contributions to the Public Understanding of Humanities
Octavia E. Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006). Octavia Estelle Butler is often referred to as the “grand dame of science fiction,” was born in Pasadena, California. She received an Associate of Arts degree in 1968 from Pasadena Community College, and also attended California State University in Los Angeles and the University of California, Los Angeles. During 1969 and 1970, she studied at the Screenwriter’s Guild Open Door Program and the Clarion Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop, where she took a class with science fiction master Harlan Ellison (who later became her mentor), and which led to Butler selling her first science fiction stories. Parable of the Sower (1993), the first of her Earthseed series, was a finalist for the Nebula Award as well as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. The book’s sequel, Parable of the Talents (1998), won a Nebula Award. A Full listing of her work can be found at octaviabutler.org