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Toshi gets ready to rock; folk singer Toshi Reagon finds a new sound on her latest album--and enjoys the love of her mom, her partner, and her daughter. (music).

Toshi Reagon says she's feeling "blissed out" these days, and she has every reason to be--her girlfriend, Valerie, takes out the trash ("Hey, I took some out too!" Reagon insists). In the morning Reagon drops off her 7-year-old daughter, Tashawn, at school in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she teaches music for free, something the musician offered to do in response to the September 11 terrorist attacks. "The best way to fight is to be a member of your community and fight with what you know," she says. Reagon also gets along famously with her mom, Bernice, of the gospel group Sweet Honey in the Rock. Not only do the two sing and perform together, Reagon is set to produce Sweet Honey's forthcoming record.

Oh, and her second Razor & Tie release, the crunchy rock-inspired Toshi--her fifth album--comes out April 23. Life just doesn't get any better than this.

When you get to know Reagon, her bliss really comes as no surprise. The singer is one of those people who, no matter what is going on around her personally or globally, just oozes good energy and vibes. She's the kind of person people want to be around.

"I feel good," Reagon says. "I've been feeling good for a long time. I work hard and have my moments like everyone else. But I so enjoy being alive with these people I know and this mom I have. I hope I can stay healthy and not fuck it up and fuck up anyone else."

Toshi departs somewhat from the more folk- and gospel-driven music on past works (The Righteous Ones, Kindness, The Rejected Stone, and Justice). The new record actually has commercial appeal and an undeniable rock sensibility, which she attributes to working with a producer other than herself for the first time, Craig Street. (She was listening to Nirvana and No Doubt before this interview, in fact.)

To her credit, the socially and politically aware Reagon has always been an out performer. And it's her understated, "yeah, whatever" attitude about her sexuality that is probably one of the biggest social statements she'll ever make.

"I've always been comfortable with who I am," she says. "I enjoy my sexuality. Thank God I'm in the music business. I've never had a conversation with my label about my size or who I'm sleeping with. I cut off my dreads and have no hair, and they just roll with it. They're like [for the album art], `Let's get her a leather jacket and a car! Can we get some women to stand by her?' And these are just white straight guys!"
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Author:Jonas, Liana
Publication:The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Apr 30, 2002
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