Sweet Honey a Rare Treat

Grammy-winning a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock take their name from Psalm 81:16, which reads, “With honey from the rock I would satisfy you.” For over 30 years, the legendary group has been satisfying listeners in its own special way—through soulful, upbeat music with a message of peace. The ensemble visits Harvard this Thursday and Friday for a two-day residency as part of Harvard’s Women’s Choral Festival.

The Festival is organized by the Radcliffe Choral Society every four years and features performances by adult, children’s and collegiate choral ensembles. As the headliners of this wide-ranging event, Sweet Honey in the Rock will be leading a master class in Paine Hall on Thursday and performing in Sanders Theatre Friday night alongside members of the Radcliffe Choral Society and the Kuumba Singers of Harvard College.

Andrew G. Clark, director of choral activities at Harvard and host of Thursday’s event, says that Sweet Honey in the Rock’s unique sound makes them a clear choice to headline. “Their sound is instantly recognizable…. There’s a woman in the group who has a range lower than many of the male basses in the Harvard Glee Club,” he says. Yet the group is notable for more than just technical ability. “They really use their music-making towards a greater end than mere entertainment,” Clark says. “They have a real message when they sing, whether it’s about issues in the African-American community, issues involving women’s rights... the list goes on and on.”

Thursday’s master class, which is free and open to the public, gives lovers of vocal music a rare opportunity to see a legendary group at work in a small-scale setting—and to join in with them as well. “They really do a masterful job of incorporating the audience,” Clark says. “The folks that come will no doubt have a chance to sing along with them…. It’ll be a great chance for [the attendees] to get together and be inspired by these amazing women.”

—Staff writer Tree A. Palmedo can be reached at treepalmedo@college.harvard.edu.

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