There is an awesome power in the human voice, and when uncommon voices are blended for the common good they become a “vocal community” at its best. Masterfully led by Ysaye Barnwell, composer and longtime performer with Sweet Honey in the Rock, singers and non-singers alike will share the common experience of learning in the oral tradition and singing rhythms, chants, traditional songs from Africa and the Diaspora, and a variety of songs from African American culture including spirituals, ring shouts, hymns, gospels, and songs from the civil rights movement. The historical, social, and political context will be provided as an introduction to the songs.
Throughout this experience, the group will explore from an African-American worldview the values embedded in the music; the role of cultural and spiritual traditions and rituals; ways in which leadership emerges and can be shared by and among community members; the nature of cultural responses to and influences on political and social struggle; and, finally, the significance of a shared communal experience in one’s personal life. A willingness to sing is all that is required.