Sweet Honey in the Rock (A Cappella Ensemble)
Sweet Honey in the Rock is an internationally renowned all-woman, African-American a cappella ensemble.
They are an American Grammy Award-winning (and many times nominated) troupe who express their history as women of color through song, while entertaining their audience.
They have together worked from four women to the difficult five-part harmony with a sixth member translating with sign language.
Although the members have changed over 3 decades, they continue to sing and have helped to produce several children's records as well as those intended for adults.
Sweet Honey in the Rock was founded in 1973 by Bernice Johnson Reagon who founded the group out of singers from a vocal workshop she was teaching with the Washington, D.C. Black Repertory Company.
Reagon retired from the group in 2004. The name of the group was derived from a song, based on Psalm 81:16, which tells of a land so rich that when rocks were cracked open, honey flowed from them. Johnson has said that this first song in which four women blended their voices was so powerful, that there was no question what the name of the group should be.
Sweet Honey in the Rock has received several Grammy Award nominations, including one for their children's album, Still the Same Me which received the Silver Award from the National Association of Parenting Publications. They won a Grammy Award in 1989 in the category of Best Traditional Folk Recording for their version of Leadbelly's "Grey Goose" from the compilation album Folkways: A Vision Shared.
Sweet Honey in the Rock has been producing music for more than 30 years. Although the members of the group have changed over time, their music has consistently combined contemporary rhythms and narratives with a musical style rooted in the Gospel music, spirituals and hymns of the African-American Church.
The ensemble tackles difficult five-part harmonies and composes much of their own music. They have addressed topics including motherhood, spirituality, freedom, civil rights, domestic violence, and racism.
Over the years, more than 20 individuals have lent their voices to Sweet Honey in the Rock. Beginning as a quartet, the group is now composed of six African-American women (including a professional American Sign Language interpreter who accompanies the group on concert tours).
On June 22, 2010, Sweet Honey released “Are We A Nation?,” their response to Arizona's controversial immigration law, SB-1070. An official music video of the song was released online on July 2, 2010. Directed by James Lester, the video was shot in New York City at Tainted Blue Recording Studio during a live recording session of the song.
Amanda Navarro researched and provided the video’s archival images and Russel Soder was the cinematographer. Ramon Hervey II served as the project’s executive producer. The band donated a portion of the proceeds from the sales of "Are We A Nation?" to The Center for Community Change, and organization founded in 1968 to honor the life of Robert F. Kennedy to assist low-income communities. Sweet Honey In The Rock also joined The SOUND STRIKE boycotting performances within Arizona in protest of the law.