They’re 40 years old—and fierce. Hence, Sweet Honey In The Rock’s 40th Anniversary: Forty & Fierce show and tour, for which the venerable a cappella ensemble has launched a fan-driven funding campaign via Indiegogo.
“We did a lot of talking, soul-searching, and brainstorming, and ultimately felt that the independent spirit that has fueled all our artistic endeavors--and been the driving force to our longevity--couldn't be better served than by partnering with our fans and Indiegogo on this milestone celebration and venture," says Sweet Honey's Carol Maillard.
The group seeks to raise $35,000 by Oct. 10. The funds will cover the production costs for the 40th Anniversary: Forty & Fierce year-long show and tour, which will be independently produced by their SHE-ROCKS 5 Productions company and performed from January, 2014 to January, 2015.
Sweet Honey In The Rock grew out of the 1960s civil rights movement, having been founded in 1973 by Bernice Johnson Reagon, who had been a member of The Freedom Singers, the movement’s paramount African-American singing group.
But in addition to political songs deriving from the movement, the group has also specialized in original and traditional American and African folk songs touching all aspects of everyday life. Featuring exuberant singing, African hand percussion, dynamic sign language interpretation and spectacular costumes, Sweet Honey has delighted fans of all ages with all-inclusive performances for 40 years.
The Forty & Fierce show show will be the group's most ambitious and adventurous live performance presentation to date. Helmed by award-winning director/choreographer Dianne McIntyre, it will feature several new original compositions, medley's comprised of some of Sweet Honey’s most popular songs, special guest musicians and vocalists, and intimate personal stories by each member fleshing out their incredible collective journey over the past four decades.
Currently comprising original members Maillard and Louise Robinson and longtimers Nitanju Bolade Casel and Aisha Kahlil—four of the 24 women who have served in the historic group—Sweet Honey is also readying its most technically advanced show as well, featuring theatrical designed and extensive lighting, a visual mix of archival film/video and still images, newly created performance costumes and special staging/set components.
The tour will kick off with performances at University of California, Berkeley's Zellerbach Auditorium, February 12, 2014. Other dates include the Music Center at Strathmore in Washington, D.C., March 1, and the prestigious "Celebrity Series in Boston" at Symphony Hall on March 2.
Sweet Honey is also planning a Forty & Fierce TV special and a commemorative CD comprised of 40 of the most popular songs they've recorded and released on 23 albums since their inception—their most recent being Sweet Honey In The Rock: A Tribute—Live! Jazz At Lincoln Center, featuring classic songs by Odetta, Miriam Makeba, Nina Simone and Abbey Lincoln.
Fan contributions to Sweet Honey In The Rock’s 40th Anniversary: Forty & Fierce begin at $10, with rewards including VIP concert tickets and post-concert meet-and-greets, and a wide range of previously unreleased memorabilia such as t-shirts, posters and specially-packaged musical downloads.
“In the beginning, we never dreamed or imagined that the music and messages we've dedicated so much of our lives to would endure and remain vital as we embark and celebrate our 40th anniversary next year,” Sweet Honey says on its Indiegogo page.
“We know that the reason that we are here and able to continue our artistic and musical goals [is] because of you, and your continued loyalty, respect, and appreciation for our artistry, [and] with great love and great respect we welcome you to this Indiegogo campaign with all our hearts.”
[The Examiner wrote the CD liner notes for Sweet Honey In The Rock: A Tribute—Live! Jazz At Lincoln Center.]
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