Sweet Honey In The Rock® was founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon at the DC Black Repertory Theater Company in 1973. The internationally renowned a cappella group has since been a vital and innovative presence in the culture of Washington, DC, and in communities of conscience around the world.
Psalm 81:16 contains the promise of being fed honey out of the rock. Honey is an ancient substance, sweet and nurturing; rock is an elemental strength, enduring the winds of time. This metaphor of sweet honey in the rock captures completely the African American women of Sweet Honey In The Rock, 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 everywhere.
Rooted in a deeply held commitment to create music out of the rich textures of the African American legacy and traditions, Sweet Honey In The Rock possesses a stunning vocal prowess that embraces the complex sounds of blues, spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, hip hop, ancient lullabies, and jazz improvisation. Its 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 sung for communities across the US and around the world, raising its voice in support of hope, love, justice, peace, and resistance. The group invites its audiences to open their minds and hearts, and to think about who we are and how we treat each other, our fellow creatures, and our planet.
After Sweet Honey’s latest release Experience…101 was nominated for a 2008 Grammy Award, the group was asked to compose new material in celebration of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater’s 50th anniversary. These two artistic treasures of the African American experience are currently performing together throughout the US.
Sweet Honey In The Rock comprises members Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, and Shirley Childress Saxton.