In a world where Justin Bieber rules the music charts, it’s nice to know there’s a group like Sweet Honey In The Rock. Around for more than four decades now, with various members, this Grammy award-winning gospel and jazz a cappella group is currently on their 24th album entitled #LoveInEvolution. Unlike most releases today, so centered on one ubiquitous hit with the rest being forgettable filler, #LoveInEvolution is the kind of recording that will stand the test of time with its well-done variety of songs and, of course, its intricate harmonies. I’d imagine listeners would enjoy hearing it decades later from today, whereas Justin Bieber’s music will end up in garage sale piles if you know what I mean.
So who is Sweet Honey In The Rock? The group consists of four Afrocentric black women, including founding members Louise Robinson and Carol Maillard along with Aisha Kahlil and Nitanju Bolade Casel. Also performing with Sweet Honey In The Rock is Shirley Childress, an American Sign Language interpreter who has collaborated with the group since 1981. These ladies aren’t teenagers trying to shake their booty to get attention. Instead, Sweet Honey In The Rock is the kind of group you’d likely see singing at a church or a prestigious stage in New York City where wealthy older patrons are willing to spend a pretty penny to hear African chants, jazzy blues, and soulful covers of songs like Marvin Gaye’s “Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology),” with a touch of old school “church” for good measure. Indeed, “We Have Come This Far By Faith,” “Somebody Prayed For Me,” and a groovy gospel medley including “I Don’t Know What You Came To Do” will expose many white people to a traditional black church sound they may not be familiar with, while black people of a certain age will likely be singing and clapping along.
Besides having several faith-informed songs, #LoveInEvolution is eclectic and features the group’s first single release, “IDK But I’m LOL!,” an inspiring track featuring the group’s vibrant voices reminding us to live, learn, laugh and most importantly love in the midst of the troubles we face in the world today. It’s the kind of song you’d hear on NPR or PBS.
The other thought-provoking single and music video from #LoveinEvolution is called “Second Line Blues.” It’s dedicated to the victims of the Sandy Hook, Columbine, Virginia Tech and the many other tragedies, and includes a reading of the names of many people who’ve died in such tragic shootings.
Sweet Honey In The Rock is a talented, thoughtful performance ensemble rooted in African American history and culture.
The ensemble educates, entertains and empowers its audience and community through the dynamic vehicles of a cappella singing and American Sign Language interpretation for the deaf and hearing impaired.
To learn more about this tried-and-true group, visit their website here. –Mark Weber Music Blog