Sweet Honey In The Rock
Ysaye Maria Barnwell
Nitanju Bolade Casel
Shirley Childress Saxton
From Psalm 81:16 comes the promise to a people of being fed by honey out of the rock.
Honey: an ancient substance, sweet and nurturing. Rock: an elemental strength, enduring the
winds of time. The metaphor of sweet honey in the rock captures completely these
African American women whose repertoire is steeped in the sacred music of the Black church,
the clarion calls of the Civil Rights Movement, and songs of the struggle for justice
Founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon in 1973 at the DC Black Repertory Theater Company, Sweet
Honey In The Rock-the internationally renowned a cappella ensemble-has been a vital and
innovative presence in the music culture in communities of conscience around the world.
Rooted in a deeply held commitment to create music out of the rich textures of African
American legacy and traditions, Sweet Honey In The Rock possesses a stunning vocal prowess
that captures the complex sounds of Blues, Spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap,
reggae, African chants, hip-hop, ancient lullabies, and jazz improvisation. Sweet Honey's
collective voice, occasionally accompanied by hand percussion instruments, produces a sound
filled with soulful harmonies and intricate rhythms.
In the best and in the hardest of times, Sweet Honey In The Rock has come in song to
communities across the US and around the world, raising a collective voice of hope, love,
justice, peace, and resistance. Sweet Honey invites audiences to open their minds and
hearts, and think about who we are and how we treat each other-our fellow creatures who
share this planet-and, of course, the planet itself.
Sweet Honey took that philosophy into the studio last year and recorded "Are We a
Nation?," a song that challenges misguided and discriminatory responses to the country's
immigration issues. Co-written by Sweet Honey and Barry Eastmond, the song was produced by
Eastmond and features award-winning rap artist Yonas. A music video of "Are We a Nation?,"
produced and directed by James Lester, was also released online last summer.
Sweet Honey In the Rock begins its 38th season with a schedule full of excitement. In
addition to a busy performance year, Sweet Honey is prepping a special tribute CD entitled
Sweet Honey In The Rock: Remembering Nina, Odetta, and Miriam, recorded live at
Jazz at Lincoln Center last April. The group is also developing a new collaborative
symphonic orchestra piece, Affirmations (For a New World), with noted composer
Bill Banfield that will debut with the National Symphony Orchestra at the Kennedy Center in
Washington, DC, on April 22, 2012.
Please visit sweethoneyintherock.org for more information.