Sweet Honey In The Rock count Obamas among biggest fans

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Thursday July 16, 2015

It’s a striking endorsement to count the Obamas among your biggest fans.

US a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock first came across then-Illinois senator Barack Obama at a dinner at the Joint Centre for Political and Economic Studies in Washington DC in 2005.

As he passed their table, singer Carol Lynn Maillard handed over a gift bag of CDs to him.

“He said, ‘Like I don’t know who you are?’,” she says. “I said, ‘Brother, I don’t know what you know, but here’s some music for you.”’

“And when he got on stage he said. ‘Sweet Honey in the Rock think I don’t know who they are’ and he sang [she breaks into a gentle gospel melody] ‘We who believe in freedom cannot rest’, and we just went [screams]”.

That line, from the band’s anthemic Ella’s Song about the influential civil-rights activist Ella Baker, is one of many historical notes spanning Sweet Honey’s catalogue that covers more than 40 years. It’s a collection traversing African chanting, African-American spirituality, racial issues, feminism, immigration policy, the environment and more.

To read more by Sarah Thomas in The Sydney Morning Herald click HERE