This past Thursday, I attended a performance at my university’s theater in order to complete an assignment. At first, I was mildly curious about the actual group performing but more focused on how I would complete the assignment successfully. By the end of the show, my outlook on the performance had drastically changed. Whereas I was a smidge excited, I left the theater uplifted, emotionally cleansed and reminded of the things that matter most.
Before attending the performance, I had not ever heard of the ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock. It seems like a crime to me now to know they would visit my hometown and I had no idea. Sweet Honey in the Rock has been around for a long time. Dating back to 1973, this ensemble has visited cities across the nation (and some international locations) spreading the love and hope their music exudes for all to enjoy. The ensemble is an a capella group, rooted in African American culture with songs concerning the ideas of freedom, love, and protection of the earth and of each other. They perform original songs and covers of popular songs. Here is why you need to attend a performance whenever possible.
1. Diversity Is Their Middle Name
Sweet Honey in the Rock aims to bring together individuals of all backgrounds (social, political, etc.) in an effort to create harmony within communities and society. The anecdotes they share between songs often are of disasters or tragedies faced within a community. They shed light on the negativity and use music to cleanse the minds of their audience to encourage a cohesive society. One thing I really appreciated was that they have an interpreter for deaf and hearing-impaired audiences.
2. You Are More Than Just An Audience
The ensemble encourages audience participation. In the opening moments, they make it clear that the audience is more than just seated individuals — they are an integral component to the success of the show. Through clapping, dancing and singing along, the audience (including myself) felt as if I was a friend of the group rather than a distant viewer. This relationship with the group furthers their message of togetherness.
3. Their Music Is Uncluttered & Pure
Being an a capella group, their main instrument is their voices. They do have a musician who introduces a guitar and bass. The ensemble themselves use small drums and maraca-style instruments in certain songs. The simplistic arrangement of music lends itself to be appreciated more deeply and for the message to hear more clearly.
4. Love for People and the Environment
Their song choice includes original music, hymnal music, and popular songs such as “Feeling Good.” The selection of music is meant to empower the audience and uplift their spirits through songs that cleanse the soul. I felt my spirits soar positively with each song. Their original songs also showcase their values in protecting the environment and spreading peace. One original song titled “Living Waters” was introduced with a brief discussion on how we have tainted our oceans and contaminated our planet. These songs seek to educate and make us realize the truth of our ways.
5. IDK, but I’m LOL!
This was one of their last songs they performed. At first, I was confused about how a song titled the way it is could have a special meaning but, of course, I was dead wrong. This song is from their new album Love in Evolution. It is a piece of encouragement in the face of obstacles and struggle. To get an idea of the song’s message, here is a lyric for you: “IDK, but I’m living, learning, laughing, loving out loud!”
This performance left me rejuvenated and reminded me to be happy and be firm with my values. Maybe I didn’t express the emotion of the performance well enough but I hope you give them a shot. Thank you, Sweet Honey in the Rock, for inspiring me!