Sweet Honey in the Rock provides food for the soul

BURLINGTON Since 1973, Sweet Honey in the Rock has moved audiences with spirituals, lullabies, hymns, gospel music, jazz, rap, reggae, doo-wop, hip-hop, and the blues. As expected, they had the Flynn MainStage crowd standing, swaying, clapping, and singing on Sept. 22, opening night of the Flynns 2007-08 season.

Look elsewhere for a list of the stirring songs Sweet Honey performed. And, if you want history and analysis, Horace Clarence Boyers excellent essay on a capella music and on Sweet Honeys West African polyphonic style and folk choral response device is at www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters .

In this piece, via brief excerpts from We Who Believe in Freedom, a 1993 book celebrating Sweet Honeys 20th anniversary, you will find personal statements by the courageous African American women who created and constitute Sweet Honey. Hopefully, their own words will introduce you to this vibrant and inspiring ensemble better than a standard concert review.

Bernice Johnson Reagon (founded Sweet Honey, retired in 2004): As African Americans and as women, we have had to have the standing power of the rocks and the mountains. This quality often obscures the fact that we are sweet like honey....I did not know that as years passed it would become clear that Sweet Honey in the Rock was a woman who was always more than the total of the individual women who moved to the stage lending our all so that she could beBy going inside ourselves and singing specifically out of our lives, our community, and our world, we try to help those listening, in the sound of our singing, to create a celebration based on what they can embrace that is real to them at that time.

Ysaye Maria Barnwell: Sweet Honey in the Rock is like a tree which, from its roots in Africa, the Caribbean, the experiences of slavery, Northern migration, the struggle for Civil Rights, and the institution of the Black church has grown strong, and is developing many branches.

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