Artist Toshi Reagon wears a fedora and a button up shirt.

The Spark with Tift Merritt: Toshi Reagon

Virtual Event
November 4, 2021
7:30 PM

 Registration for this event closes at 6:30 PM EDT on Thursday, November 4, 2021. Available on-demand for all ticketholders for 72 hours, beginning on November 4, 2021 at 7:30 PM EDT. Suggested ticket donation (per household) is $15. Tickets available starting at $0.

Join us for The Spark with Tift Merritt featuring Toshi Reagon, acclaimed singer, songwriter, and musician. In this series, Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter and UNC alumna Tift Merritt returns to Carolina Performing Arts to take us behind the scenes in artist-to-artist video interviews that delve deep into the creative process. 

How do you light a spark? How do you make something true? How does art happen? What is mumbled on the way in the studio and how can we hear it? 

Welcome to The Spark.

Tift Merritt

Toshi Reagon, a Brooklyn-based singer, composer, musician, curator, activist, and producer, is a longtime friend of Carolina Performing Arts. She led the way for artist residencies at CPA as our inaugural Mellon Foundation Discovery Through Iterative Learning (DisTIL) Fellow in 2017/18, culminating in the Alchemy of Change Festival in spring 2019. Now, as a Creative Futures artist-in-residence, she is developing a series of short musicals called Life Currency Creation, which explore different aspects of the ideas in the namesake. 

Runtime: approximately 60 minutes, including audience Q&A. Recording of CPA virtual events is not permitted. If you have questions or concerns related to accessibility, please contact us. You can also check out our livestream events guide

The Spark with Tift Merritt logo

About The Spark

Based on the series Merritt produced for the acclaimed Marfa, Texas Public Radio, The Spark peels back the polished performance to reveal the elbow grease, risk, fire, and courage behind the art—and artists—we think we know. Each month, Tift will welcome a new artist for a 45-minute livestreamed conversation that gets to the heart of their work, followed by a 15-minute audience Q&A. 

About the Artists

About Toshi Reagon

A “talented, versatile singer, songwriter, and musician with a profound ear for sonic Americana” (InfiniteBody), Toshi Reagon is the winner of the 2021 Herb Alpert Award in the Arts and the APAP Merit for Achievement in the Performing Arts. While her expansive career has landed her comfortably in residence at Carnegie Hall, the Paris Opera House, Madison Square Garden, and the MET, you can just as easily find Toshi turning out at a music festival, intimate venue, or local club.  

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Toshi and her mother Bernice Johnson Reagon are also known for developing the the beloved and powerful opera Parable of the Sower, based on Octavia E. Butler’s novel of the same name, to both tell the novel’s story and explore the rich history of two centuries of Black music. 

A catalyst of change, Toshi is committed to speaking truth to power and uses her art as a form of activism. She says, “Eventually we have to be seen on the planet––all humans, wherever you come from, whatever your cultural identity, your nation, your religion. It is important for my voice to be heard, your voice to be heard, for other voices to be heard.” 

Artist Tift Merritt looks to the side with a slight smile.

About Tift Merritt

Tift Merritt wanted to be a writer until her father taught her guitar chords and Percy Sledge songs. In her 20-year career, she has toured around the world with her sonic short stories and garnered a reputation for making her own way and setting an interesting artistic table. The New Yorker calls her “the bearer of a proud tradition of distaff country soul that reaches back to artists like Dusty Springfield and Bobbie Gentry.” Emmylou Harris calls her “a diamond in a coal mine.”

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Taking time off the road to raise her daughter, Merritt began work on forthcoming site-specific projects by way of collecting objects at an old motel and an abandoned asylum as forgotten, essential language.  Merritt collects artist interviews about process and integrity on The Spark for Carolina Performing Arts. She lives in North Carolina with her daughter, Jean.

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