Bernice Johnson Reagon On Freedom Fighting in Berklee News

Sweet Honey in the Rock founder Bernice Johnson Reagon gave the keynote address at Berklee's 15th annual Liberal Arts Symposium. Photo: Phil Farnsworth

Excerpted from the full Berklee News article “Bernice Johnson Reagon On Freedom Fighting” by Fred Brouchard, associate professor in the Liberal Arts Department, Berklee College of Music:

“Bernice Johnson Reagon raised us in song. She helped assuage our pain and stress, like a balm of Gilead. As guest speaker of Berklee’s 15th annual Liberal Arts Symposium, Sweet Honey in the Rock founder Reagon inspired a packed house at David Friend Recital Hall with partly sung memoirs and advice from her life as a freedom singer.

Reagon began her keynote by singing a soft spiritual, and told us, “I was born among singing. I don’t know of breathing or eating, without singing. I don’t mean from the radio (a wonderful invention) or from the iPod (another wonderful invention). I mean [singing] like walking and talking, like the air you breathe, so you didn’t define it in any particular way, because it was woven inside the you you came to know, the house you grew up in, the yard you played in, the school you went to, the church you went to. It was singing by the people around you.”