Afrofuturism comes to Abu Dhabi


The singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Toshi Reagon. Courtesy Kevin Yatarola
The singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer Toshi Reagon. Courtesy Kevin Yatarola

If Toshi Reagon didn’t exist, it would be difficult to imagine her. A multitalented singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, composer and producer, Reagon has pursued a genre-defying career that spans rock, the blues, folk, punk and even opera.

Reagon’s versatility and place in contemporary American music should come as no surprise. The daughter of Cordell Reagon and Bernice Johnson Reagon, co-founders of the Civil Rights era five-piece Freedom Singers, whose campaigning songs were influenced by gospel music, traditional spirituals, rhythm and blues and soul, Toshi was named after the wife of her godfather – the legendary American folk singer, songwriter and activist Pete Seeger.

As well as leading her own band, BIGLovely, since 1996, Reagon opened for Lenny Kravitz on his inaugural world tour and has worked with international artists such as Ani DiFranco and Elvis Costello, but it is a collaboration with her mother that has brought the 51-year-old to Abu Dhabi for the first time.

The opening performance of the Arts Center at New York University Abu Dhabi’s 2015-2016 season, Octavia E Butler’s Parable of the Sower: The Concert Version will receive its UAE premiere on Wednesday night.

Reagon’s latest work is an operatic adaptation of Butler’s Afrofuturist but ‘mundane’ (in sci-­fi terms) novel which has gathered something of a cult following in North America amongst a generation of readers who appreciate the story’s blend of speculative fiction and social commentary as well as what is ultimately its uplifting message.

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For the full article, please see The National

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