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February 9, 2009

Sweet Honey in the Rock

…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

IncaRoads gave me this album to post a month ago... but I wanted to post the gospel albums first to put it into context. When I first listened to this album, I thought it was a lot more restrained than those wild church gospels of the 30's and 40's. And, in a sense, it is. But remember, this was 1976, not 1936, and America was a much different place, facing much different issues. Sweet Honey in the Rock emerged out of a growing group of people who were trying to construct a new paradigm (feminism, black nationalism, peace & ecology movements, etc.). And Sweet Honey emerged to answer the need of those people for a connection to their roots and a new sense of identity. So, in a sense, they served the same purpose as the black churches half a century earlier -- to give people a sense of meaning and purpose, born out of their struggles and turbulent emotions. It is no surprise, then, that Sweet Honey in the Rock drew upon the traditions of Black Gospel, African chants, and Negro Spirituals and Work Songs to form their own unique musical vehicle. The music is restrained, but there's a mountain of energy contained behind the soft exterior, which unfolds upon repeated listenings.

The Info:
Now moving well into it fourth decade, Sweet Honey In The Rock was organized by Bernice Johnson Reagon as an African American women a cappella ensemble in 1973 in Washington, DC. This African American women communal song and singing ensemble has built an international following of music lovers pulled to the strong harmony singer, a wide range of genres including spirituals, lined hymns, children songs, blues, jazz, and original compositions. The group is known for her unapologetic stand for justice, respect and equality.

From Psalm 81:16 comes the promise to a people of being fed by honey out of the rock. Honey – an ancient substance, sweet and nurturing. Rock – an elemental strength, enduring the winds of time. The metaphor of sweet honey in the rock captures completely these African American women whose repertoire is steeped in the sacred music of the Black church, the clarion calls of the civil rights movement, and songs of the struggle for justice everywhere.

Rooted in a deeply held commitment to create music out of the rich textures of African American legacy and traditions, Sweet Honey In The Rock possesses a stunning vocal prowess that captures the complex sounds of

Blues, spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, Hip Hop, ancient lullabies, and jazz improvisation. Sweet Honey’s collective voice, occasionally accompanied by hand percussion instruments, produces a sound filled with soulful harmonies and intricate rhythms.

In the best and in the hardest of times, Sweet Honey In The Rock has come in song to communities across the U.S., and around the world raising her voice in hope, love, justice, peace, and resistance. Sweet Honey invites her audiences to open their minds and hearts and think about who we are and how we treat each other, our fellow creatures who share this planet, and of course, the planet itself.

“What Bernice has done with Sweet Honey is more innovative than what anyone has done to synthesize root and evolved forms into a new form. She’s done it with vocal music, but in a sense she’s done it with instrumental music, too, because she’s taken the voice and used it as another kind of instrument. She has drawn on the richest wellspring of Black and in some cases, non-black, vocal tradition and created a brilliant new genre. It’s the most important thing being done with traditional vocal styles and repertoire than anybody’s done in this country.” —Ralph Rinzler, Smithsonian Asst Secretary for Public Service

Recorded less than three years after their first rehearsal, this disc spotlights the building blocks of the group's later sound: sustained vocal harmony chords sung at full throttle. It begins with the group's namesake song and includes Reagon's tribute to Joanne Little, a couple of bluesy love songs, an adapted Langston Hughes poem, several hymns, and even a little piano. --Geoffrey Himes

Biography by Laura Post:
These days, the voice as a dominant instrument is finding new favor among music lovers. The group that has been central to this development within the contemporary music scene is a quintet of electrifying vocalists based in Washington, D.C., Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Singing unaccompanied, except for body and hand percussion instruments, this ensemble of African-American women singers has, in 17 years, built an solid international reputation and following. The strength of Sweet Honey lies within her repertoire rooted in the tradition of African congregational choral style and its many extensions. One hears the moan of blues, the power of early 20th century gospel, echoes of the community quartet, and jazz choral vocalizations freshly tinged with church melodic and harmonic runs. A Sweet Honey in the Rock concert is a transforming experience, drenching audiences with harmonies. The rhythms change, leads change, and women dance: breathtaking music.

The women of Sweet Honey sing fiercely of being fighters, tenderly of being in love, and knowingly of being women. They take their evergrowing audiences through a complex journey of celebration and struggle rooted in the history of the African-American legacy.

Sweet Honey in the Rock - Sweet Honey in the Rock
Year: 1976
Label: Flying Fish

1. Sweet Honey in the Rock - 0:51
2. The Sun Will Never Go Down - 2:23
3. Dream Variations - 3:43
4. Let Us All Come Together - 4:03
5. Joanne Little - 3:22
6. Jesus is My Only Friend - 3:04
7. Are There Any Rights I'm Entitled To? - 6:29
8. Going to See My Baby - 2:06
9. You Make My Day Pretty - 4:35
10. Hey Mann - 5:29
11. Doing Things Together - 5:59
12. Traveling Shoes - 3:24

Salvation coming down the pike...
mp3 320kbps | w/o cover | 98mb

thanks IncaRoads

1 comment:

Alex said...

Hi there, thanks a lot for your comments and support! I'll be sure to update you in my blogroll and what not super soon (as soon as I get over this mushroom hangover and can think again!).