Consummate musicians and storytellers, Kim & Reggie Harris are a mini festival of diversity. Combining traditional African-American spirituals and freedom songs with original folk, they sing of life, love, the quest for freedom, environment and community. Their latest CD, “Resurrection Day,” binds these themes into a profoundly moving personal odyssey of inspiration and hope, adding Reggie’s experience as an organ donor recipient to the social justice palette. For over two decades, Kim & Reggie have been affiliated with the John F Kennedy Center’s Partners in Education program, offering multimedia educational performances for students and community, “Music & The Underground Railroad” and “Dream Alive.”
Kim & Reggie Harris combine a strong folk and gospel legacy with a solid background in classical, rock, jazz and pop music. As socially conscious acoustic musicians and storytellers, the Harrises have been “walking the talk” for over 30 years, performing modern and historical songs that explore societal ills and proffer positive social messages.
The Harrises’ cultural background as African-Americans is a major component of their repertoire. Spirituals and gospel songs are liberally incorporated in their work, and they are well respected in scholastic circles for their presentations on black history for teachers and students alike, as Affiliates with the AIE Programming at The Kennedy Center Their best known recording, Steal Away: Songs of the Underground Railroad(1998), is a much-used teaching tool during the annual Black History Month, and serves as the backbone of their “Music and the Underground Railroad” workshop, and is a staple educational aid in many American historical museums. The CD’s sequel, Get On Board! Underground Railroad & Civil Rights Freedom Songs, Volume 2, was released to enthusiastic response in 2008.
Yet no one who has seen the married duo of Kim and Reggie Harris in their hundreds of yearly folk-oriented performances, heard their spirited, purposeful CDs, or learned about the Underground Railroad and Black History through their special concerts and teacher training seminars would believe the upbeat couple was simultaneously battling Reggie’s ever-worsening, life-threatening autoimmune disease, which required a new liver. After 13 years, he was running out of time, but in 2008, Reggie was given new life when a liver donor became available.
The Harrises’ new CD, Resurrection Day (2012) joyfully answers the question, “What happened next?” The CD not only continues the duo’s commitment to recording uplifting songs of optimism, activism, and social justice, but it also presents eight new Reggie originals bursting with reinvigorated purpose. Written in the aftermath of his transplant and ongoing recovery, Reggie found his songs had “deepened in theme, subject matter, and in musical tone . . . they’re more direct but more personal.”
Within months of Reggie’s liver transplant, the duo were back on stage performing together, and they have resumed their busy touring schedule. Reggie’s post-surgery songs can be as calm as a gentle awakening (“A new day is here…You’ve got a new race to run” he sings on the title track).
In May, 2013, Dr Kim Harris was awarded her Ph.D. in Liturgy and Music from Union Theological Seminary in NYC, for her research into the role of music from the Black Catholic perspective, including Civil Rights history. Earlier in 2013, her music for a Mass based on African-American Spirituals, a collaboration with Roger Holland, was published by GIA in the new Black Catholic Hymnal.
While most of their performances, teaching and research are done as a team, Reggie Harris has taken a leadership position on the board of the Living Legacy Pilgrimage where he has collaborated with a team of Unitarian ministers in leading eight-day intensive bus tours of the 1963 Freedom Riders and Civil Rights historic sites from Birmingham, Alabama, to Memphis, Tennessee and points in between. With every tour group, Reggie gains as much knowledge and inspiration as he shares in his presentations.
Kim and Reggie Harris are dynamic and superbly talented traditional folk performers, whose captivating stage presence and unique harmonies has earned the respect and love of audiences throughout the US, Canada and Europe for over 30 years. They are unique in their ability to entertain audiences of any age and background as they blend their talents as singers, songwriters, educators, interpreters of history and cultural advocates.