The Pace Report

Season 2012 Episode 01.02.12

The Pace Report: "Remembering Nina, Odetta, and Miriam" The Sweet Honey In The Rock Interview

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The black church has always been the home of both the struggle and strength of African-Americans since the days of the Middle Passage. It was the wit, wisdom, and oral tradition of hymns and stories handed down by our ancestors that have kept the lineage of these songs alive and well. The group Sweet Honey In The Rock have been on the front-lines for almost 40 years performing the rich oral narratives and rhythms that were created and steeped in the black church. The Grammy-Award winning a cappella group was founded by Bernice Johnson Reagon in 1973 while teaching a vocal class at the Black Repertory Company in Washington, D.C. Reagon was inspired to name the group from a bible verse from Psalm 81:16 which makes reference to honey as “sweet” and provides the strength of a rock. For almost four decades the women of Sweet Honey In The Rock have used the power and voice of song to address and empower music fans on issues ranging from civil rights and equality to motherhood and domestic violence. Lately the group just recently performed and recorded a live tribute to vocalists and activists Miriam Makeba, Odetta, and Nina Simome. In addition to them now traveling with this new show, the ladies added a live trio to accompany them featuring: pianist/keyboardist and music director Stacy Wade; Parker McAllister on basses; and Jovol Bell on drums and percussion. Sweet Honey In The Rock just played a week long engagement at the Blue Note Jazz Club here in New York City. I sat down with both Ysaye Barnwell and Aisha Kahlil about their upcoming project and the history of black oral roots music. For upcoming tour dates or to order their past work, please visit them on the web atmoreless

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