"I think women, especially in the black community, have been major carriers of the history of struggle. We are the history books. I think it's about time we had a festival in this area to carry that message," says singer Toshi Reagon.
Reagon and the Agitones, the female quartet she founded, will vocalize this message at the fourth annual Sisterfire women's art festival Saturday at Takoma Park Junior High School. The Agitones, consisting of drummer Barbara Lewis, bassist Kris Koth and guitarist Tiik Pollet, along with Reagon, were formed in 1983 specifically to play in the Sisterfire festival that summer. After that first concert, they got calls from two colleges in Ohio requesting them to perform. At that point, Reagon says, they didn't even have a name for the group, "but we figured we'd better get one."
Since that first performance, the group has been well received. "We do a rock/wave type of music with political and social intent. But it's also a lot of just being able to have fun," says the 21-year-old singer.
Reagon, daughter of Bernice Johnson Reagon, who founded Sweet Honey in the Rock, claims her mother greatly influenced her music. "I've listened to her more than anybody else," she says. "Music was always around and I always liked it, but it wasn't my main focus. I was really into sports. Then I lost the use of one of my legs. I decided to start playing guitar and I also picked up the drums. I started playing bass a couple years later." Reagon now devotes herself to music full time, also performing as a solo artist.
The festival will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.