Since its 1973 inception in Washington, D.C. (founded by Dr. Bernice Johnson Reagon as part of the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company with Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson and Mie), Sweet Honey In The Rock has continuously evolved, becoming international ambassadors of a cappella excellence and musical missionaries of equality, empowerment, and education. Revered most for their live performances, the ladies have recorded 24 albums, several specifically for children. Sweet Honey celebrates its 45th anniversary during the 2018-19 season.
Sweet Honey In The Rock has performed in many of the world’s most prestigious venues on almost every continent, including several festivals and for royal command concerts. In 2015 alone, they embarked on four U.S. Embassy tours with performances and outreach in Ethiopia, Peru, Jamaica, and Swaziland. In Swaziland, they were one of the headliners of the internationally acclaimed 9th Annual Mountain Bushfire Music Festival (which attracted 20,000 people), and were featured at the 11th Annual Festival of Voices in Hobart, Tasmania, as part of a tour that also ncluded Launceston, and Melbourne and Sydney in Australia. Their February 2016 appearance at New York’s historic Carnegie Hall (with noted guest artists: trumpeter and bandleader Terence Blanchard and violinist Regina Carter) holds the distinction of being their 32nd performance there.
Recent milestones and accomplishments include a commission by the Alvin Ailey American Dance Company to compose the score for its 50th anniversary program, “Go In Grace.” In 2012, they debuted their first orchestral collaboration, writing original lyrics for composer William Banfield’s Symphony 10 “Affirmations for a New World,” a thirty minute work that was co-commissioned and presented by the National Symphony Orchestra (Christoph Eschenbach, Music Director) at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts; the Minnesota Orchestra, (Osmo Vänskä, Music Director) at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis; and the Harris Theater for Music and Dance and Millennium Park with the Sphinx Orchestra (conducted by Mark Russell Smith) in Chicago. The group also performed at the National Memorial Service for Nelson Mandela at the National Cathedral in Washington, DC. The group is also, unsurprisingly, a favorite of President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama, and has performed by request at the White House.
Sweet Honey In The Rock, which has been the subject of two PBS television specials, (including American Masters), is a beloved performance ensemble that has maintained a resilient spirit and found a way to fuse the talents of the 24 women that have graced the Sweet Honey stage, developing a patented sound without ever skipping a beat. Fans stay abreast of their travels on Facebook, Twitter, and at www.sweethoneyintherock.org. Sweet Honey In The Rock is Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, Nitanju Bolade Casel, and Aisha Kahlil, with interpreter Barbara Hunt and special guests Romeir Mendez and Rochelle Rice.
Sweet Honey In The Rock is the 2018-19 Don Michael Randel Ensemble in Residence at the University of Chicago. The residency program is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation in recognition of noted musicologist and UChicago President Emeritus Randel, to provide a permanent home for world class musicians at the University. As the Randel Ensemble in Residence, Sweet Honey In The Rock is involved in activities that allow for deep engagement between these exceptional musicians and UChicago faculty, students, and staff.