Friday May 20, 2016
From The Smooth Jazz Ride
Sweet Honey in the Rock
The Birchmere Music Hall
By: Ronald Jackson
Sunday is the day of the week that many, if not most, attend church services and walk away feeling uplifted, cleansed, and encouraged. If you had attended the vibrant, embracing concert at Alexandria, VA’s famed Birchmere Music Hall last Sunday evening, the powerful vocal ambience of the world-renowned a cappella all-female vocal ensemble known as Sweet Honey in the Rock for over 40 years would have equally moved you to experience that same sense of cleansing, encouragement, and of being uplifted. It would have also filled you with social consciousness, a sense of proactive responsibility for the plight of our world, and just a warm-all-over caress of feel-good vibes.
Bringing to bear on attendees its glorious blend of gospel, jazz, blues, and spot-on commentary through song, the group led a “service” that many social activists and pastors alike would have loved.
With Louise Robinson, Carol Maillard, Aisha Kahlil, Nitanju Bolade Casel on vocals, Shirley Childress as the group’s ASL (American Sign Language Interpreter), and Romeir Mendez – on acoustic upright & electric bass (and he was the lone instrumentalist onstage, by the way), the night became instantly filled with richness and positivity through music from the moment the ensemble strode onto the stage in their beautiful black and rose tie dye wardrobe.
This audience, sensing what they were about to witness, was full of spiritual maturity and buzzing with excitement. It was obvious from long before we entered the theater that most were longing for some of that good ol’ soul-wrenching, foot-stomping, thought-provoking music that only these ambassadors of social conscience and spiritual devotion can deliver.
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