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Experience 101

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Album Review

Sweet Honey in the Rock's reputation as an exemplary vocal ensemble steeped in African choral traditions and backed by rhythmic percussion dates back to the 1970s. Some 30 years later, the group's basic approach and rich harmonic sense remain intact. On Experience...101 Sweet Honey in the Rock bring their vocal prowess to bear on children's music, delivering an ambitious program of original and occasionally older songs. With intertwining voices, multi-part arrangements, and rhythmic underpinning, songs like "4 U 2 Know as U Grow" and "Education Is the Key" are really catchy. Six voices/musicians — Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Aisha Kahlil, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Carol Lynn Maillard, Louise Robinson, and Arnae — provide Sweet Honey in the Rock with a potentially diverse foundation. The foundation, however, is frequently limited by relying on similar structures from song to song, which means that while an individual song like "When I Grow Up" may be quite catchy by itself, it is too similar rhythmically to "All I Have to Do." This factor, plus the preachy quality of certain songs, mars an otherwise beautifully sung album. These faults, however, will probably matter little to young listeners or liberal-minded adults, who will find, respectively, the intoxicating soundscape and politically correct lyrics on Experience...101 easy to like. ~ Ronnie D. Lankford, Jr., Rovi


Formed: 1973 in Washington D.C.

Genre: World

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

Sweet Honey in the Rock are a dynamic, virtuosic, all-female a cappella group with a repertoire rooted in African choral, blues, gospel, and jazz. Earning an international following since their inception in 1973, the group use only body- and hand-held percussion to accompany their vocalizations, if using any accompaniment at all. Formed in Washington, D.C. by Bernice Johnson Reagon, then vocal director of the D.C. Black Repertory Theater, the ensemble has changed membership over time, with over 20...
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Experience 101, Sweet Honey In the Rock
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