Wednesday October 26, 2016
Sweet Honey in the Rock’s celebration of the National Museum of African American History and Culture
By: Jim Bessman
“It was marvelous!” says Carol Maillard, a founding member of the all-female vocal group, which was formed in 1973 by singer, composer and civil rights activist Bernice Johnson Reagon from her vocal workshop group at the D.C. Black Repertory Theater Company.
Reagon had been a member of The Freedom Singers, the 1960s civil rights movement’s paramount African-American singing group, and Sweet Honey in the Rock, which took its name from a quartet song based on a biblical parable about a land that was so rich that honey flowed out of its rocks, expanded the Freedom Singers repertoire to include traditional and original music deriving from the sacred music of the black church and including blues, spirituals, gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, hip-hop, ancient lullabies and jazz improvisation.
“We were happy to be at the dedication, and happy be on stage,” continues Maillard, who’s joined in the current Sweet Honey line-up by fellow founding member Louise Robinson, veterans Nitanju Bolade Casel and Aisha Kahlil and longtime sign language interpreter Shirley Childress…
…“It was really incredible to be part of grand opening, because it was a historic moment for the country and people of African descent, that this beautiful structure [the museum] was created,” says Maillard. “It doesn’t even hold everything—that’s what’s so deep about it: It’s massive and there’s so much stuff that’s in it, but there’s so much more that could be covered. We started going through it at 9:15 a.m. and were there until almost 12:30 and didn’t get through most of it!”
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