“…their sheer musicianship can still raise goosebumps.” – The Guardian
“Sweet Honey’s arrangements revel in the ways five voices can combine. Melody and accompaniment, foreground and background change with every song… Ingenious and luxuriant, Sweet Honey’s music suggests a utopian community where individuality sings out and cooperation is a pleasure.” - The New York Times
“I have always believed art is the conscience of the human soul and that artists have the responsibility not only to show life as it is but to show life as it should be. …Sweet Honey In The Rock has withstood the onslaught. She has been unprovoked by the 30 pieces of silver. Her songs lead us to the well of truth that nourishes the will and courage to stand strong. She is the keeper of the flame.”
– Harry Belafonte
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK 40TH ANNIVERSARY…FORTY & FIERCE
Sweet Honey’s “FORTY & FIERCE” show will be the group’s most ambitious and adventurous live performance presentation to date. It will be their first scripted show, helmed by noted Director/Choreographer Dianne McIntyre. Sweet Honey will be featuring a visual scrapbook theme, medley’s comprised of some of their most popular songs, special guest musicians and vocalists 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.
Challenge and change are the themes underlying the 40-year career of the revered female African-American a cappella ensemble, SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK. In the course of creating its adventurous and diverse mixture of blues, African, jazz, gospel and R&B music, with excursions into symphonic and dance theater, 23 vocalists have passed through the group, formed as a quartet in 1973 at a workshop at the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company in Washington by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon.
The ever-growing list of SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK’s musical and activist achievements since its creation is beyond stunning. The ladies have performed in Nairobi and Beijing at the U.N. World Conference on Women, toured the UK, Japan, Africa, Australia and various European locations, been the subject of two PBS documentaries “Gotta Make This Journey” and “SWEETHONEY IN THE ROCK: Raise Your Voice,” recorded film soundtracks, received Grammy nominations for several of their albums for children, and shared a Grammy Award for their participation in the multi-artist record “Folkways: A Vision Shared – A Tribute to Woody Guthrie and Leadbelly.” They again honored Guthrie in a Centennial Celebration of his birthday presented at the Kennedy Center in Washington in November 2012.
The group appeared in a 1986 PBS special, “The Dream and the Drum,” on the first national observance of Martin Luther King Day and in early 2012 performed at the unveiling ceremonies for the monument for Dr. King on the National Mall. The same year, SWEET HONEY also 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,” (SHE ROCKS 5/Appleseed Recordings) pays homage to some of the great female African-American vocalists whose songs helped shape the group, including Abbey Lincoln, Odetta, Miriam Makeba, and Nina Simone.
For decades, SWEET HONEY’s on-stage line-up has also included an American sign language interpreter, a position held by Shirley Childress since 1981). The group recently returned from tours in Europe and Australia, and next year they will be celebrating SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK’S 40TH ANNIVERSARY: FORTY & FIERCE (January 2014 – January 2015).
The current SWEET HONEY IN ROCK comprises Louise Robinson, Carol Maillard, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, and Shirley Childress (ASL).