Thursday February 25, 2016
Sweet Honey in the Rock shows ‘Evolution’ on latest CD
By: Jim Bessman
Sweet Honey in the Rock seemed right at home when they performed at Carnegie Hall last week, and why not? They’ve packed the place too many times to count over the years, though they’ve played smaller venues in New York of late, and since their last time at Carnegie, trimmed their roster by one with the departure of longtime member Ysaye Maria Barnwell.
But the rest of the historic 43-year-old African-American female a cappella group remains intact, with founding members Carol Maillard and Louise Robinson, veterans Nitanju Bolade Casel and Aisha Kahlil and longtime sign language interpreter Shirley Childress—though for the first time they weren’t entirely a cappella at Carnegie.
Their last album, 2013’s two-CD A Tribute: Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center, honored the songs of Nina Simone, Odetta and Miriam Makeba and was recorded with backing musicians, and their New York concerts supporting it likewise involved support players. Their just-released new album #LoveInEvolution (Appleseed Records) also has instrumental backers, among them Romeir Mendez, who played bass behind them at Carnegie. But even with the lineup and conceptual changes, “everything fell into place” with #LoveInEvolution, notes Maillard, though the recording process itself was in fact quite different.
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