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Sweet Honey in the Rock

The group Sweet Honey in the Rock takes its name from Psalm 81, which begins with the words "Sing Aloud!" and ends "with honey out of the rock, I have satisfied you."

Sweet Honey in the Rock

This seven-woman a cappella choir delivers music from the black church with spirit and improvisation, and the message is about justice, change and love.

Sweet Honey was formed in 1973 by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon (now retired). SHIR has performed all over the world, for children as well as adults. There are 20 albums, and the recent American Masters PBS special about the group is on DVD.

Sweet Honey in the Rock's performance from Symphony Hall in Boston was presented by the Bank of America Celebrity Series, November 5, 2005, and airs exclusively on this week's JazzSet.

The artists are:
Arnať, who is a first-call session singer in New York City. She has performed with an A-list of artists from hiphop to jazz and blues.
Ysaye Maria Barnwell, who also conducts an independent workshop, "Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition." She has a Ph.D. in Cranio-facial Studies and was a Dentistry Professor at Howard University.
Nitanju Bolade Casel, who has studied and performed in Dakar, Senegal. She and her sister Aisha Kahlil appeared in the film Beloved.
Aisha Kahlil, who is SHIR's strongest blues singer, and also has many film music credits.
Carol Maillard, who has been a member of the DC Black Repertory Theatre in Washington.
Louise Robinson, who has acted with Arena Stage, DC Black Repertory Theatre, on and off Broadway.
Shirley Childress Saxton, who interprets SHIR's music for deaf audience members, using American Sign Language, onstage. Her ASL movements are as fluid as dance.

"Breaths," also on Good News (Flying Fish 1981) "Denko," also on Live at Carnegie Hall (1988) "Chinese Proverb" "Prayer to the One," also on Sacred Ground (Earthbeat! 1996) "Precious Memories" "Change" "Tryin Times," also on In This Land (Earthbeat! 1992) "Going to See My Baby," also on Sweet Honey in the Rock (Flying Fish 1976) "Come Unto Me," also on The Women Gather (Earthbeat! 2003)


Sweet Honey in the Rock

Sweet Honey Discography

'American Masters' Documentary

Bank of America Celebrity Series

Boston Symphony Hall

Thanks to Paul Bongiorno of ICM Artists, Ltd.; Karen E. Brown of the Bank of America Celebrity Series; Cheryl Silvia Lopes, Boston Symphony Hall.
Recording: Antonio Oliart-Rose of WGBH Radio, Boston. Thanks to Tom Devlin, also Jim Donahue. Remix is by Duke Markos and Yujin Cha. Thanks to Carol Maillard.
Producer is Becca Pulliam, with Executive Producer Thurston Briscoe at WBGO Jazz 88 in Newark.

Copyright 2007 NPR