Sweet Honey in the Rock to Play Pittsburgh's Byham Theater, 11/9
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust presents the soulful a capella ensemble, SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK, at the Byham Theater in Pittsburgh, PA on Saturday, November 9, 2013, at 8:00 p.m. Ticket prices start at $25. For tickets and information, visit www.TrustArts.org, call (412) 456-6666, or in person: Theater Square Box Office, 655 Penn Avenue. This event is part of the Cohen & Grigsby Trust Presents series.
SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK's current six members Aisha Kahlil, Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, Nitanju Casel, Shirley Saxton, and Ysaye Barnwell continue their deeply held commitment to create African music out of the rich textures of African American legacy and traditions and bring this music to communities across the U.S. and around the world. Sweet Honey raises her voice in hope, love, justice, peace and resistance and invites her audiences to open their minds and hearts.
Now in its 40th year, the Grammy Award nominated ensemble celebrates this landmark season with FORTY AND FIERCE! a theme that captures their fiery temperament and exemplifies that all things are possible. Sweet Honey "is one of my favorite groups in the whole wide world." -First Lady Michelle Obama.
Challenge and change are the themes underlying the career of the revered female African-American a cappella ensemble, SWEET HONEY IN THE ROCK. In the course of creating its adventurous and diverse mixture of blues, African, jazz, gospel and R&B music, with excursions into symphonic and dance theater, 23 vocalists have passed through the group, formed as a quartet in 1973 at a workshop at the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company in Washington. Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, and Mie drew their name from the first song they learned, "Sweet Honey in the Rock," based on a Biblical psalm. "Sweet Honey speaks of a land that is so rich when you break the rocks open, honey flows. And we thought it was something like us African-American women . . . strong like a rock, but inside [there's] honey - sweet," explains Robinson.
SWEET HONEY's founder, Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon (who retired from the group in 2004), first became aware of the political power - the "rock" - of song while in jail in 1961 for her participation in a civil rights march in her Albany, Georgia, hometown. After her release, she became a member of the original Student Non-violent Coordinating Committee Freedom Singers and a leader in the Sixties civil rights movement, traveling the country spreading its songs and message - "We Shall Not Be Moved."
Aisha Kahlil possesses a dynamic, innate power and range in jazz, blues, traditional, contemporary, and African vocal styles and techniques. Ms. Kahlil's interest in music was evident at an early age. She was a member of local choirs in her native Buffalo, New York, and performed as a vocalist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra in several productions including Porgy and Bess, Carmen Jones, and The Messiah. She also sang the role of Monica in a special WGBH production of Menotti's The Medium, and performed at Carnegie Hall in Julius Eastman's avant-garde composition The Thruway. She worked with the Studio Arena Theatre where she was awarded a full scholarship, and at the Buffalo Black Drama Workshop, where she toured in the production Willus Way is Not a Violent Man, directed by Ed Smith. During this time she became interested in the music of such jazz artists as John Coltrane, Leon Thomas, BetTy Carter, Yma Sumac, and Pharaoh Sanders, to name a few.