B.J. Reagon — Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon — is one of those rare SuperGenius talents that cannot be boxed in by mind or musical genre. Is she a Blues singer? Is she a Gospel singer? Is she a Folk singer?
B.J. Reagon is all of that and more — she sings solely for the longing of the human heart — and she doesn’t stop there:
Bernice Johnson Reagon (1942-) grew up with music. She knew it could entertain, excite, and praise God. When she joined the Albany, Georgia, nonviolent movement, she learned it could do much more, as she describes in this brief memoir. Reagon was born and raised in southwest Georgia. As the daughter of a Baptist minister, religion and music played large roles in her upbringing. She studied music at Albany (GA) State University, where she became active in the civil rights movement. She has pursued a career as a teacher, composer, and performer, founding the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1973.
Here are the list of beautiful melodic runes from her famous album, “Folk Songs: The South:”
This is B.J. Reagon singing “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” live on Pete Seeger’s “Rainbow Quest” 1960’s television show. She’s probably around 18-years-old:
When we consider The Blues, we must include B.J. Reagon as a foundation block of that emotional and intellectual continuum and we must always conform to her musical mandate that we all count or none of us count.
Sounds brilliant, David. I will have to look into getting some more of her lovely music!
B.J. Reagon sings the history of the Black Experience in America, Gordon. Listen to her, and history comes alive in real and painful ways.
Wow, simply touching…
She is definitely a necessary superstar for us all to remember.