An Original Production in Tribute to Sweet Honey in the Rock with Toshi Reagon and BIGLovely
Commissioning Partners: WPAS (Washington Performing Arts Society), Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center, University of MD, University Musical Society, University of MI, Dartmouth College, NJPAC (New Jersey Performing Arts Center) University of IL, Champaign/Urbana, University of Austin.
With EveningSong, the women of Sweet Honey in collaboration with Toshi Reagon set out to create an original production, an evening of songs and singing in a narrative journey that already exists in the real life experiences shared between the two artists.
When Sweet Honey and Toshi met in our first workshop during the Spring of 2002, each person wrote down all of the Sweet Honey songs we thought were important to who the group has become. It was inspiring and overwhelming to contend with the list. There were those songs that were already documents of our relationships. Sweet Honey songs performed and recorded by Toshi and Toshi Reagon songs that were a part of our repertoire. As we continued to search for the structure of the production, we talked about the importance of coming together across genres.
As we continued to search for the structure of the production, we talked about the importance of coming together across genres. One central principle was support across generations and the notion of doing the work of your life so that one created space not only space for yourself but for others who travel with and after you. It was also crucial to create a sound environment that celebrated and protected the aesthetics of the a cappella ensemble and the rock band.
We were fortunate to have Art Steele, Sweet Honey’s engineer for a quarter of a century join the creative team and take on the technical challenges of maintaining the integrity of both the a capella and rock genre and creating an experience that a Sweet Honey audience would find satisfying, and yes—stimulatingly stretching.
The resulting show is a collage of ideas and principles shared over a nine month period producing an show outline that provided the foundation of our residency week. We did this show in 13 cities premiering at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Mi January, 2003 with the last show at the University of Texas, in Austin, January, 2004.