librettist, composer

BERNICE JOHNSON REAGON | she/her (librettist, composer) is a scholar, singer/songleader, activist. For over half a century she has made profound contributions to African American and American culture. Born in 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; and she founded and led the internationally acclaimed Sweet Honey in the Rock for 30 years until her 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 the Charles E. Frankel Prize for Contributions to the Public Understanding of Humanities.