Sunday, February 1, 2009

In review--Sweet as Honey

Sweet Honey in the Rock
Experience 101
Appleseed Recordings

It is hard for me to imagine someone who has not heard of the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock. This group of African-American women vocalists has been around for over 35 years dishing up a delicious brew spiked with African wisdom and mother comfort. Sweet Honey in the Rock's Experience 101 teaches children how to live, grow and become well-rounded world citizens. The songs are aimed at children, but the child in each of us will be delighted by these a cappella tunes backed by hand percussion.

Although Sweet Honey in the Rock precedes a cappella and vocal polyphony groups such as the Italian ensemble Faraualla and the Belgian-based Zap Mama, comparisons would not be too far fetched. Sweet Honey in the Rocks has more in common with Zap Mama than Faraualla, but the singers possess the verve and passion of both ensembles. These women, based out of Washington DC, also share much in common with the West African griot tradition. Besides being able to sing in a variety of genres, these women are also storytellers and keepers of age old wisdom. They sings about respecting elders, the role of a natural healer (herbalist), human rights, human dignity, about Spirit and world citizenship. They spread social consciousness, sweet as honey to some, hard as a rock to others.

Certainly children can benefit from all these lessons, but the adult world could use some reminders from these vocalists as well. Some times we too throw tantrums and forget how to play nice in the sandbox. And if we forget our ABC's and how to communicate with respect, these ladies got that covered too.

This brew contains gospel, jazz, hip-hop, reggae and even a little bit of samba on the track 4 U 2 Know As U Grow. This fun and colorful album educates, informs and entertains children of all ages while featuring polyphonic vocals that lift the rafters. If you and yours want peace in your life, look no further than Experience 101. After 35 years, Sweet Honey in the Rock has a lot of experience to share with the rest of us.

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