In honor of Earth(seed) Day, a mesmerizing theatrical work of rare power and beauty that reveals deep insights on gender, race and the future of human civilization.
Revisit The Arts Center’s first show of its first season. Filmed in The Black Box on September 2, 2015.
The US premiere of this performance took place at Carolina Performing Arts, where Toshi Reagon is an artist in residence.
Were you there? 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.
“…one of the most compelling performers on the modern-rock scene.” – The New York Times
Toshi Reagon (Librettist, Composer, Music Director) is a talented and versatile singer, composer, musician, curator and producer with a profound ear for sonic Americana—from folk to funk, from blues to rock. While her expansive career has landed her at Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House and Madison Square Garden, you can just as easily find Toshi turning out at a music festival, intimate venue or local club. She has collaborated with many artists including Lizz Wright, Meshell Ndegeocello, Lenny Kravitz, Elvis Costello, Jason Moran, Climbing PoeTree and Nona Hendryx. As a composer for dance and theater works, she has worked with Michelle Dorrance Katori Hall, Urban Bush Women and The Jane Comfort Dance Co., among others. She is currently touring Bessie Award-winning The Blues Project with tap dancer Michelle Dorrance and Dorrance Dance. She founded WORD*ROCK*&SWORD: A Festival Exploration of Women’s Lives, a community festival that takes place throughout New York City every September since 2011. Together with her mother Bernice Johnson Reagon, she has created two operas with director Robert Wilson, The Temptation of St. Anthony and Zinnias, The Life of Clementine Hunter. She is a composer and performer in Meshell Ndegeocello’s Can I Get A Witness: The Gospel of James Baldwin. Toshi co-composed music for two Peabody Award-winning films and received a NYFA Award for Music Composition, the 2010 OutMusic Heritage Award and The Black Lily Music and Film Festival Award for Outstanding Performance. She is a National Women’s History Month honoree and was named a 2015 Art of Change Fellow by the Ford Foundation. She is a Andrew W. Melon DisTil Fellow with Carolina Performing Arts, A 2018 United States Artist Fellow, and a Andrew W. Melon Creative Futures Fellow Carolina Performing Arts. Toshi resides in Brooklyn NY, from their she continues to tour as a solo artist and with her band Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely. Her latest recording is SPIRITLAND available on digital release through Bandcamp.
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
This is a past event
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.
Members of the bands playing at Barzakh Festival share approaches to preserving their traditions while honoring heritage and creating space for innovation in an ever changing world.
Ecstatic Italian pizzica tarantata meets propulsive Algerian Saharan rhythms in an exciting cross-boundary musical conversation.
Korean shamanic folk-pop meets guitar-fueled Somaliland songs in an exciting showcase of cultural traditions.