Sweet Honey In The Rock is an a cappella ensemble of African American women.  Members are Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, and Shirley Childress Saxton. The group comprises a rotating cast for many years. The group name has its origin in a quotation from the Bible.  From Psalm 81:16 comes the promise to a people of being fed by honey out of the rock.

Blues, spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, Hip Hop, ancient lullabies, and jazz improvisation are the styles. In April 2011 the group had two shows at Jazz at Lincoln Center's Rose Hall. This 2 CD set is compiled from these shows honoring legendary female singers such as Odetta, Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba.

The group is supported by Stacey Wade (piano, keyboards), Parker McAllister (bass), and Jovol Bell (drums, percussion). The Group's specialty consists in vocal harmonies. Each member of the group takes its own functions in different octaves. The onomatopoeia with hiss, rhythm tones and other instrumental interpretations occupies a large space.

The group is very much in the tradition of African music. Sabumoya and Shuku Shuku by Miriam Makeba are well known examples. Highlight of the first CD is certainly the traditional American folk song See Line, which became popular by Nina Simone on her 1964 album Broadway-Blues-Ballads. Another Blues approach is Can't Afford To Lose My Man by Memphis Minnie.

Also impressive is the interpretation of the jazz standard If I Should Lose You, which has long been part of American songs. I cannot decide, what is more outstanding, Stacey Wade's piano performance or the vocal intonation by Nitanju Bolade Casel. At the same high standard are moving also the other members of the singing group. But you also need give a big praise to the accompanying musicians to go very sensitively with the choir.

The song Feeling Good was recently reintroduced into the musical consciousness through interpretations of Michael Bublé and a remixed version by Nina Simone on the first volume of the Verve Remixed series. The treatment by the group vowels this version in every way. Known songs as The Midnight Special and Pata Pata round out the picture of the first CD.

The rights of individuals and particularly those of minorities are a labor of love of the singing group. The focus of their second album are therefore also the Civil Rights, which they celebrate in the Civil Rights Medley. The  classic folk tune Another Man Done Gone describes the situation of the chain gangs in the state of slavery. With the Abbey Lincoln Medley honors the ensemble the late jazz singer.

Tell Me More And More And Then Some originally sung by Billie Holiday and also by Nina Simone is newly interpreted by Casel. Catching is her scat song style surpassing the level of Al Jarreau.  Of course, a song like Johnny Mathis' Wild Is The Wind is not lacking in the repertoire of the group.

During the Latin enhanced song Let There Be Peace all group members and supporters are presented by Louise Robinson. The second CD is closed by the medley N'diarabi/Africa Is Where My Heart Lies in memory of the origin and heritage of the group.

This package is truly a feast for all lovers of black vocal art.







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Album Information

Title: A Tribute - Live! Jazz At Lincoln Center [Disc 1]
Artist: Sweet Honey In The Rock
Year: 2013
Length: 0:48:00
Genre: General Jazz
Label: Appleseed Records


01 Jalc Welcome (Spoken) [0:25]
02 Breaths [3:14]
03 Sabumoya [0:50]
04 Come Ye [3:44]
05 Welcome (Spoken) [2:06]
06 Shuku Shuku (Choo Choo Song) [3:35]
07 See Line Woman [4:46]
08 Can't Afford To Lose My Man [3:08]
09 If I Should Lose You [4:28]
10 Love Me Or Leave Me [4:00]
11 Trouble In Mind [4:02]
12 Feeling Good [3:14]
13 The Midnight Special [4:00]
14 Pata Pata [6:28]

Title: A Tribute - Live! Jazz At Lincoln Center [Disc 2]
Artist: Sweet Honey In The Rock
Year: 2013
Length: 0:51:48
Genre: General Jazz
Label: Appleseed Records


01 Intro To Freedom Suite (Spoken) [A.K.A. Intro To Civil Rights Medley] [1:09]
02 Freedom Suite [A.K.A. Civil Rights Medley]: Oh Freedom, Come And Go With Me To That Land, I'm On My Way To Freedom Land, Glory Glory Hallel [6:51]
03 Another Man Done Gone [5:28]
04 Abbey Lincoln Medley: Down Here Below, The Music Is The Magic, A Turtle's Dream, I'm In Love [8:33]
05 Tell Me More And More And Then Some [4:23]
06 Wild Is The Wind [7:27]
07 Run On [6:06]
08 Let There Be Peace [6:26]
09 N'diarabi/Africa Is Where My Heart Lies (Medley) [5:25]