February 18, 2005
Sweet Honey in the Rock in Concert at MASS MoCA
(North Adams, Mass.)-- Sweet Honey in the Rock is an internationally renowned, Grammy Award-winning female a cappella ensemble 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. 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 Friday, March 18, at 8 P.M. According to The Washington Post, "To call a performance by Sweet Honey in the Rock supremely entertaining is barely to scratch the surface." Entertainment Weekly says, "The venerable choral septet revels in passionate gospel/blues/you-name-it workouts that could raise goose bumps on Formica."
Founded in 1973 by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon, Sweet Honey In The Rock consists of seven African American women who join their powerful voices and hand percussion instruments to create a blend of lyrics, movement, and narrative that variously relate history, point the finger at injustice, encourage activism, and sing the praises of love. The music speaks out against oppression and exploitation of every kind. The septet, whose words are simultaneously interpreted in uniquely expressive American Sign Language, demands a just and humane world for all.
The group takes their name from Psalm 81:16 which promises a long-oppressed people that they will be fed by honey out of the rock. Honey is an ancient substance, sweet and nurturing; rock is an elemental strength, enduring the winds of time. The metaphor of sweet honey in the rock captures these women whose repertoire is steeped in the sacred music of the black church, the clarion calls of the civil rights movement, and songs of the struggle for justice everywhere.
Dr. Reagon is a noted political activist, a Distinguished Professor at Washington's American University and a curator emeritus at the Smithsonian Institution. She also occasionally records solo albums and was a founder of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee Freedom Singers in the 1960s, and also writes songs as well as books. Before founding Sweet Honey in the Rock, she was the vocal director of the D.C. Black Repertory Theater. To Reagon, music is a means for affecting change in society, instilling a sense of heritage and cultural pride, and creating solidarity in the face of adversity, uniting people while simultaneously celebrating their differences. After 30 years of leading and singing with the ensemble, Dr. Reagon retired from Sweet Honey in February 2004 stating: "Making the commitment was just the beginning; we have worked very hard in many ways to create the way ahead for Sweet Honey to create her voice as our communal voice for justice and truth in the world."
The performance will be interpreted for the deaf and hearing impaired. Designated seats are avilabe for deaf and hearing impaired patrons and should be requested from the box office when tickets are ordered.
Tickets for Sweet Honey in the Rock are $32 for orchestra seats or $25 for mezzanine. MASS MoCA members receive a 10% discount. Tickets are available through the MASS MoCA Box Office located off Marshall Street in North Adams from 11 A.M. until 5 P.M. (closed Tuesdays). Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 during Box Office hours or purchased on line at www.massmoca.org.
MASS MoCA, the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States, is located off Marshall Street in North Adams on a 13-acre campus of renovated 19th-century factory buildings.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Katherine Myers
(413) 664-4481 x8113