March 9, 2024 at 8:00 pm
By hope we live/
On truth we stand/
From our hearts we give/
Sweet Honey In The Rock® remains among the most vibrant, versatile and relevant musical collectives in music today. They are a performance ensemble and an ambassadorial African American organization founded on the triumvirate missions of Empowerment, Education and Entertainment. Their current membership includes Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, and featured musician Romeir Mendez on upright acoustic bass and electric bass.
Sweet Honey In The Rock is a powerful and unique concert entity that fuses the elastic 360 degree possibilities of the human voice with a theatrical flair that keeps avid audiences returning for more year after year. Kinetic, cultured and connected, this internationally renowned, Grammy Award® nominated, female a cappella vocal quartet has a history of over four decades of distinguished service. They have created positive, loving, and socially conscious message music that matters as it pertains to spiritual fortification, and consistently taken an activist stance toward making this planet a better place for all in which to live.
Their most recent album, #LoveInEvolution, crackles with energy and innovation as Sweet Honey In The Rock® meshes its finely honed a cappella, world, gospel, and folk roots with elements of hip hop, jazz and Rhythm & Blues in the service of the group’s most arresting collection of original material and timeless covers. Beyond solo-derived pieces, the quartet also writes as an ensemble developing new material through their improvisational work. The strongest songs on #LoveInEvolution come from the headlines of today’s world news, but also abound in messages of optimism, faith, pride in self, and romantic love.
Since its 1973 inception in Washington, DC (founded by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon as part of the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company with Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson and Mie), Sweet Honey In The Rock has continuously evolved into international ambassadors of a cappella vocal and lyrical excellence and musical missionaries of equality, empowerment and education, peace, love, solidarity and nondenominational spirituality. Revered most for their live performances, the ladies have recorded 24 albums, several specifically for children. Their most recent double CD, SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK: A Tribute…Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center (2012), paid homage to their kindred sisters: vocalists and activists Abbey Lincoln, Odetta, Miriam Makeba and Nina Simone, and found the group singing with a jazz trio of “Honey Men” (Musical Director and pianist, Stacey Wade; acoustic and electric bassist, Parker McAllister; and drummer and percussionist, Jovol Bell).
Sweet Honey In The Rock has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious venues on almost every continent for royal command concerts and festivals. In 2015 alone, they embarked on four U.S. Embassy tours with performances and community outreach in, Ethiopia, Peru, Jamaica and Swaziland (and also toured Belize in 2014). In Swaziland, they were one of the headliners of the internationally acclaimed 9th Annual Mountain Bushfire Music Festival (which attracted 20,000 people), and were featured at the 11th Annual Festival of Voices in Hobart, Tasmania, as part of a tour that also included Launceston, and Melbourne and Sydney in Australia. Their February 2016 appearance at New York’s historic Carnegie Hall (with noted guest artists trumpeter and bandleader Terence Blanchard and violinist Regina Carter) holds the distinction of being their 32nd occasion to perform there.
Recent milestones and accomplishments include being commissioned by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company to compose a score for its 50th anniversary 2008 program, “Go In Grace.” In 2012, they debuted their first orchestral collaboration, writing original lyrics for composer William Banfield’s, “Symphony 10: Affirmations for a New World”, a thirty minute work that was co-commissioned and presented by the National Symphony Orchestra (Christoph Eschenbach, Music Director), and the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington, DC; the Minnesota Orchestra, (Osmo Vänskä, Music Director) at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis; and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, Millennium Park with the Sphinx Orchestra (conducted by Mark Russell Smith) in Chicago.
The group also had the honor of performing at the National Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. In acknowledgement of their efforts, Sweet Honey In The Rock® was recently presented a distinguished award by the Search For Common Ground Organization and the Keeper of the Flame award by the National Delta Sigma Theta Sorority at its 100th anniversary celebration. Also, not surprisingly, they are a favorite group of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, having performed by request at the White House.
Sweet Honey In The Rock, which has been the subject of two PBS television specials, (including American Masters), is a beloved performance ensemble that, in its 40 plus year history, has maintained a resilient spirit and found a way to successfully fuse the talents of the 24 women that have graced the Sweet Honey In The Rock® stage into their patented sound without ever skipping a beat. Ever evolving, the soul survivors once even expanded to six vocalists before settling back to four, all in the name of retaining its adventurous spirit, keeping up with the times and reaching greater numbers of like-minded spirits. Last year they released the holiday single and video, “Silent Night” in support of their annual Sweet Honey In The Rock, “Celebrate the Holydays” program of spiritual music from around the globe. Fans stay abreast of their travels on Facebook, Twitter and on this website.
“We are very forward thinking as an organization, constantly reevaluating how we can express concepts to uplift and create change through our music and concerts,” says Maillard. “#LoveInEvolution has a more contemporary sound and feel because as people in the group grow and change, we want to hear different things, feel different things, and bring fresh elements to our presentation.”