Toshi Reagon and Big Lovely, celebrate Toshi's birthday every year by staging a series of shows at Joe's Pub. Typically (and they've been doing this for ten years now), they raise the roof and bring the house down, but this year, Toshi's birthday celebration intersected with the inauguration week of Barack Obama, so there was a lot to celebrate. The final show of the series every year is the Sacred Music Birthday Show and it features Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, the founder of Sweet Honey in the Rock and Toshi's mother.
Before the show last night, Bernie and I were standing in the hall behind the stage as the band collected itself. I was on my way to the bar to get some drinks for Laura and I and Bernie was on his way upstairs to grab a spot in the crowded booth from which he could take some pictures.
Without saying a word, Toshi gathered us into her prayer circle and we held hands with the band as she focused everyone's energies on the task at hand.
It was a calm moment of presence, a private reflection before a public display. It was the way that all great things begin, with an honest connection and faith in the power of collected individuals.