|SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK
Web site: http://www.sweethoneyintherock.org
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SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK has maintained a rich and distinguished legacy as one of the most revered and treasured a cappella ensembles in contemporary music. Over the past four decades the Grammy Award nominated group has stayed true to its adventurous and diverse mixture of blues, African, jazz, gospel and R&B music, with more recent excursions into symphonic music and collaborations into the dance/theater genre. The ensemble titled their anniversary year, (January 2014 - January 2015) SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK - 40TH ANNIVERSARY...FORTY & FIERCE, and will be celebrating with shows throughout the year around the country.
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK - 40TH ANNIVERSARY show is the group's most ambitious live performance presentation to date. It is their first scripted show, helmed by noted Director/Choreographer Dianne McIntyre. Sweet Honey's performance will feature medley's comprised of some of their most popular songs, a special guest musician and intimate personal stories by each member that will be woven into a retrospective look at their seminal artistic and musical journey over the past four decades. The show also includes a special pre-show presentation, SHE-ROCKS 5 RADIO, a musical retrospective hosted by Epatha Merkerson that will feature songs culled from their 23 album releases.
The show is comprised of Sweet Honey's core members, Louise Robinson, Carol Maillard, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, and Shirley Childress, (American Sign Language Interpreter) and special guest bassist Parker McAllister.
The ever-growing list of SWEET HONEY’s musical and activist achievements since its creation as a quartet in 1973 at workshop at the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company in Washington, DC (by Dr. Bernice Reagon) is beyond stunning. The ladies have performed in Nairobi and Beijing at the U.N. World Conference on Women, toured Europe, Japan, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and been the subject of two PBS documentaries “Gotta Make This Journey” produced and directed by Michelle Parkerson and “SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK: Raise Your Voice,” produced and directed by Emmy Award winner Stanley Nelson. They've recorded film soundtracks, received several Grammy nominations including "EXPERIENCE 101," (a children's record released in 2007), and shared Grammy Awards for their participation in the multi-artist record “Folkways: A Vision Shared – A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly,” as well as for their contribution to "cELLAbration: A Tribute to Ella Jenkins. They again honored Guthrie in a Centennial Celebration of his birthday presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D. C. in November 2012 which was broadcast on PBS-TV in 2013. On the first observance of Martin Luther King Day, the group appeared in a 1986 PBS-TV special, “The Dream and the Drum,” and in early 2012 performed at the unveiling ceremonies for the monument for Dr. King on the National Mall.
The same year, SWEET HONEY debuted their first ever orchestral collaboration, providing the lyrics for composer William Banfield’s “Symphony 10: Affirmations for a New World,” co-commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. They also released a thought-provoking single and video, “Are We a Nation,” inspired by the controversial immigration law that was enacted in Arizona. The song captured a Gold Songwriter Award from the 27th Mid-Atlantic Song Contest and was featured on an all-star compilation, “Bordersongs,” that raised money for the No More Deaths organization, which provides water and humanitarian aid along the Arizona/Mexico border. Their latest 2-CD set, “A Tribute – Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center,” (released in February 2013) pays homage to some of the great female African-American vocalists whose songs and activism helped shape the group, including Abbey Lincoln, Odetta, Miriam Makeba, and Nina Simone. Last year, the ladies performed several major TRIBUTE performances which included their contemporary jazz trio of HONEY MEN who also played on the live recordings at Jazz At Lincoln Center (Musical Director/piano Stacey Wade, bassist Parker McAllister and drummer/percussionist Jovol Bell)
Last year they were the recipients of the distinguished award presented by the Search For Common Ground Organization and the Keeper Of The Flame Award by the National Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at their 100th Anniversary Celebration and national convention (both held Washington, DC). 2013 was also highlighted by SWEET HONEY'S performance at the national memorial service for the late Nelson Mandela at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC, the successful launching of their first ever online fundraising effort with Indie Gogo, and the retirement of Dr. Ysaye Barnwell (a member for 34 years). In addition, The Brooklyn Academy of Music's annual DANCEAFRICA 2013 featured SWEET HONEY as guest performers with the Chuck Davis' African American Dance Ensemble and the BAM Restoration Dance Africa Ensemble.
In 2008, SWEET HONEY was commissioned by the Alvin Ailey Dance Company to write an original music score for GO IN GRACE, which was directed and choreographed by Ailey member Hope Boykin. GO IN GRACE, debuted as part the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater's 50th Anniversary season and tour and featured SWEET HONEY performing as singers and dancers. The GO IN GRACE score was also recorded and released independently by SWEET HONEY'S SHE-ROCKS 5 label.
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