LIVE: Sweet Honey in the Rock @ MASS MoCA’s Hunter Center, 7/7/12

July 13th, 2012, 1:00 pm by Greg

Review by J Hunter

There was a slight pause before Sweet Honey in the Rock’s encore as the five-woman vocal group had to sort out the tangle of mic cords that crossed and re-crossed over each other on the Hunter Center’s stage. “Usually we’re wireless,” Sweet Honey leader Ysaye Barnwell told us, adding wryly, “For this very reason!”

It’s not like the group has complicated choreography that would create such a wild coaxial spaghetti monster. Apart from exchanging places and seats between numbers, Sweet Honey’s stage show is pretty static. Sure, Aisha Kahlil got up and moved to the spirit during a five-part vocalization that was half-African prayer chant and half-birdsong, and Carol Maillard and Louise Robinson “faced off” for a brilliant call-and-answer session during the encore “Operator.” But other than that, the group basically either stood or sat – alone or together – and sang their ever-living hearts out, just like various iterations of the group have been doing for nearly 40 years.

Read the rest of this entry »


Sweet Honey in the Rock Live in Concert at Mass MoCA July 7 [Berkshire on Stage]

July 2nd, 2012, 1:00 pm by Sara
Sweet Honey In The Rock

Sweet Honey In The Rock

Sweet Honey In The Rock is an internationally renowned, Grammy Award-winning female a cappella sextet that stretches deep roots into the sacred music of the black church – spirituals, hymns, gospel- as well as into jazz and blues, reggae, rap, hip hop, ancient lullabies, and African chants. Sweet Honey’s collective voice, occasionally accompanied by hand percussion instruments, produces a sound filled with soulful harmonies and intricate rhythms. Evoking all the rich textures of African American legacy and traditions in transcendent vocal harmonies, the group will perform in concert at MASS MoCA on Saturday, July 7, at 8 PM. MASS MoCA’s galleries will be open until 7:30 PM before the show for those wishing to see the art on display before the performance.

The New York Times says: “Like the gospel music it draws on, Sweet Honey In The Rock delivers messages with luminous, virtuosic singing, and the…women’s voices blend and soar in a spectrum of styles few other ensembles could match.” Other accolades: “Consisting of singers who complement one another perfectly and completely, Sweet Honey is a harmonic machine that exceeds the sum of its parts. At their best, the singers create a sonic tapestry of melodic, harmonic and rhythmic threads woven together with precision, if little nuance. But Sweet Honey isn’t so much about nuance as it is about throwing everything out onto the stage and seeing what works.”

Click to read the rest at Berkshire on Stage.

Ysaye Maria Barnwell, What Was the First Album You Ever Bought?

January 25th, 2011, 12:54 pm by Greg

Ysaye Maria Barnwell

“I can remember the first 45 that I spent my money on – and the second one, too. I bought Frankie Lyman & the Teenagers’ ‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love?’ and also Johnny Mathis’ ‘The Twelfth of Never.’

Those are the two records that I remember playing until the grooves were just about worn off, but to be honest, I really don’t remember the first album that I bought.”

Ysaye Maria Barnwell and the other women of Sweet Honey in the Rock raise their voices together for a concert at the Colonial Theatre in Pittsfield at 8pm on Friday. Tix are $35 and $55.

Caffe LenaJim Gaudet and the Railroad BoysHolly & EvanThe Cock'N'Bull RestaurantCartoonist John CaldwellAdvertise on Nippertown!The Sanctuary For Independent MediaBerkshire On Stage