The Grammy award winning female a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock is touring to promote their latest album release Sweet Honey in the Rock: A Tribute-Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center. Sweet Honey in the Rock will be at the BB King Blues Club in New York City on March 5, 2013 for two shows.
We have featured Sweet Honey in the Rock previously for our “Peace Song of the Day” project. Sweet Honey in the Rock is a strong voice for justice, freedom, and peace.
The Grammy award winning female a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock is touring to promote their latest album release Sweet Honey in the Rock: A Tribute-Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center. There are only 5 days that the women of Sweet Honey will be performing these special tribute shows that honor the songs from influential female vocalist such as Odetta, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Bessie Smith, and more!
Nearing its fourth decade, the internationally acclaimed, award-winning female African-American a cappella group Sweet Honey In The Rock was ready to follow its adventurous spirit and undertake a new challenge – to honor some of the seminal songs that first inspired its unique blend of folk, blues, jazz, gospel and ethnic music in a concert presentation utilizing an instrumental backing trio for the first time. Upping the ante, the singers decided to perform this special program at New York’s prestigious Jazz at Lincoln Center venue and to record their two-night appearance there in front of surprised and delighted audiences. Talk about working without a net!
In the opening moments of Sweet Honey In The Rock’s new 2-CD set, “Sweet Honey in the Rock: A Tribute – Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center,” well-timed for February 26th release – concluding Black History Month and preceding Women’s History Month in March – group member Ysaye Barnwell recites a roll-call of some of the great female African-American vocalists whose songs helped shape the group and comprise much of “Tribute’s” repertoire, including Abbey Lincoln, Odetta, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone, Miriam Makeba, Carmen McRae, Bessie Smith, and Sarah Vaughan.
The songs on this recording are drawn from those two shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Rose Hall in April 2011. They were subsequently performed on several additional dates, and will be featured in at least five upcoming “Tribute” shows in February and March 2013. Adorned with new arrangements by Sweet Honey’s members, there are jazz standards such as “Love Me or Leave Me,” “Wild is the Wind,” and “Tell Me More and More and Then Some,” gospel/civil rights anthems melded into a “Freedom Suite,” Afro-centric songs (the Sixties hit song “Pata Pata,” “Sabumoya,” “Shuku Shuku,” and the closing “N’diarabi/Africa is Where My Heart Lies”), show tunes, blues, and a salsa-flavored original, “Let There Be Peace.”
Sweet Honey In The Rock’s distinctive swirl of a cappella vocals, encompassing waves of imaginative ensemble harmonies and occasional solo showcases, is heard unaccompanied, aside from the quintet’s hand percussion, on about half of the songs. Interwoven throughout the presentation are the understated instrumental contributions of the trio nicknamed “the Honey Men” – Stacey Wade (musical director/piano/keyboards), Parker McAllister (bass), Jovol Bell (drums, percussion) – who augment Sweet Honey’s exhilarating, soulful voices and confident, genre-crossing dexterity.
Founded in 1973 by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon at the (Washington) D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company, Sweet Honey In The Rock’s line-up currently includes returning original members Carol Maillard and Louise Robinson (Dr. Reagon retired from the group in 2004) and “long-timers” Ysaye Barnwell, Nitanju Bolade Casel, and Aisha Kahlil, as well as on-stage sign language interpreter Shirley Childress. The group has toured from Australia to Zimbabwe, performed in the White House, accrued numerous honors (including a Grammy and several Grammy nominations , most recently for its first CD on Appleseed, 2007’s “Experience…101”), and established itself as an inspiring, empowering musical force worldwide.
Sweet Honey’s involvement in various social justice projects makes the group an ideal member of the independent Appleseed Recordings roster, which includes significant artist/activists Pete Seeger, Buffy Sainte-Marie, and South Africa’s Johnny Clegg, among others.
Founded in 1997 by activist attorney Jim Musselman, Appleseed Recordings is an independent, idealistic and internationally distributed record label devoted to releasing socially conscious contemporary, folk and roots music by a wide array of established and lesser-known musicians. Sweet Honey In The Rock is part of a roster that includes such politically active musicians as Pete Seeger, Buffy Sainte-Marie and South Africa’s Johnny Clegg, as well as seasoned, creatively evergreen “heritage” artists Tom Paxton, Tom Rush, Donovan, Jesse Winchester, David Bromberg, Jonathan Edwards, and Al Stewart, among others. The company’s approach has attracted many high-profile guest artists, including Bruce Springsteen, who has recorded six tracks for the label and was inspired to create his “Seeger Sessions” CD and tours after working on the first of Appleseed’s three Pete Seeger tribute releases. Appleseed has built a catalogue of more than 100 well-respected CDs, two Grammy Awards, ten Grammy nominations, and, most importantly, has produced music that is actually helping to change the world.
- Sweet Honey in the Rock, featuring Yonas, release “Are a Nation?” in Response to Arizona’s SB-1070
- Sweet Honey in the Rock gets WBAI’s Nina Simone award 11/27/07
- Summer Long Island Folk Music 8/17/07