Bernice Johnson ReagonView in iTunes
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Though perhaps most widely known as the founder and guiding force of the Washington, D.C.-based women's group Sweet Honey in the Rock, Bernice Johnson Reagon is also a noted political activist, a Distinguished Professor at Washington's American University and a curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution. She also occasionally records solo albums. During the '60s she was a founder of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee Freedom Singers. Before founding Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1973, she was the vocal director of the D.C. Black Repertory Theater. Early musical inspirations for Reagon include the gospel music she heard while attending the Black American Baptist Church; the harmonies that surrounded her became the basis for those of her famous group. To Reagon, music is a means for affecting change in society, instilling a sense of heritage and cultural pride, and creating solidarity in the face of adversity, uniting people while simultaneously celebrating their differences. In addition to performing with Sweet Honey in the Rock, writing songs, teaching, and working as curator, she also writes books and makes videos. ~ Sandra Brennan