Sweet Honey In The Rock to perform at Bates

The Grammy Award-winning female a capella group Sweet Honey In The Rock will coordinate the release of their latest CD, “25,” with a concert appearance at Bates College Saturday, Nov. 14, at 8 p.m. in the Clifton Daggett Gray Athletic Building. Tickets are $8 and may be purchased at Bull Moose Music outlets in Lewiston, Portland and Brunswick.

Founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon in Washington, D.C., 25 years ago, Sweet Honey In The Rock first raised their powerful voices to sing, a capella, against inhumanity and injustice. Celebrating a quarter century as a group committed to African-American music forms, their latest album and debut recording with Rykodisc is the ensemble’s first new recording in three years.
The disc explores a wide range of vocal textures from the expansiveness of chorus and congregation to the intimate sound of the gospel quartet, springing from spirituals, hymns, gospel, jazz, blues and chants out of Africa.

During their 25th anniversary season, the group will also release “Continuum: The First Song Book of Sweet Honey In The Rock” (Third World Press), with a forward by Harry Belafonte; “No Mirrors in Nana’s House” (Harcourt Brace), a children’s book by bass vocalist Ysaye Barnwell; and the soundtrack produced, compiled and composed by Bernice Johnson Reagon to the recently broadcast public television special “Africans in America.”

Sweet Honey In The Rock take their name from the age-old fable about a land so laden with riches, you could break a rock in two and from within the honey would flow. Since its inception, 22 women have participated in the ensemble, released 15 acclaimed albums and toured extensively around the world. In 1988, they won the Grammy in the category of best traditional folk recording for their version of Lead Belly’s “Grey Goose” on the album “Folkways, A Vision Shared.”

According to singer Bonnie Raitt, “The power of that many great singers singing at once, a capella, is undeniable. The depth of where they’re singing from, politically and personally, is just unmatched.” The group’s current members include Reagon, Barnwell, Aisha Kahlil, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Carol Maillard and sign language interpreter Shirley Childress Johnson.

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