Thu | Dec 8, 2016

Sweet Honey rocks

Published:Wednesday | March 11, 2015 | 12:00 AM
Sweet Honey in the Rock poses for Hospitality Jamaica after Blues on the Green at Emancipation Park, St Andrew on Friday, February 27.
United States Ambassador to Jamaica Luis G. Moreno addresses the audience at Blues on the Green.
From left: Christine Staple Ebanks, founder and president of the Nathan Ebanks Foundation; Joshua Polacheck, counsellor for public affairs at the Embassy of the United States of America; and United States ambassador to Jamaica Luis G. Moreno having a chit-chat just before the start of Blues on the Green.
The Holy Trinity High School Band opening the show at Blues on the Green.
From left: Christine Staple Ebanks, founder and president of the Nathan Ebanks Foundation; Joshua Polacheck, counsellor for public affairs at the Embassy of the United States of America; and United States Ambassador to Jamaica Luis G. Moreno having a chit-chat just before the start of Blues on the Green at Emancipation Park, St Andrew on Friday, February 27.
From one songbird to another, singing sensation Subrina Murray was delighted to meet veteran singer Marcia Griffiths during the intermission at Blues on the Green.
Show headliners, Sweet Honey in the Rock, in one of their spell-binding performances on Friday, February 27.
Subrina Murray mesmerising the audience with her soulful voice at Blues on the Green at Emancipation Park, St Andrew.
A section of the large audience that turned out for Blues on the Green.
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I love jazz and blues, which I hope to sing professionally. It has been my dream for more than 20 years, and I have been rehearsing ever since. Sometimes, I sing more than 20 songs, one behind the other, adding my own flair.

I am also into negro spirituals, pop songs from the stage and screen, and Bob Marley's music to a certain extent.

So, I try to go to shows from which I can learn stage-crafting and the nuances of live performances. And Friday, February 27 was another opportunity to learn, but it wasn't just another musical event. It was a special one, where patrons were invited to donate educational tools to the Nathan Ebanks Foundation "which promotes inclusion, participation, empowerment and equal opportunities for children with disabilities and special education needs".

Sponsored and hosted by the Embassy of the United States in St Andrew, at Emancipation Park, Blues on the Green was part of the embassy's observance of African-American History Month. This year, the show was headlined by Sweet Honey in the Rock, an all-African-American female a cappella, Grammy award-winning group. They were accompanied by Romeir Mendez, a United States resident of Jamaican parentage.

The headliners were another reason

the show was special to me. In their vast repertoire, the notes of jazz and blues and negro spirituals are deeply embedded.

Leaving the lazy drones behind, five worker bees came to produce sweet honey on 'The Rock'. I was expecting a feast, and they

delivered sweet musical nectar, including their stylistic interpretation of Bob Marley's Redemption Song. Even Bob Marley himself enjoyed it. He was on screen smiling from ear to ear.

Throughout their performances, the four vocalists used their honey-flavoured voices to convey messages of protest, redemption, peace, equality, freedom and self-acceptance, themes I could relate to. Whether it was their harmonised a cappella numbers or those accompanied by the virtuoso bassist, Romeir Mendez, the performances were utterly delightful.

And Shir Childress, the sign language interpreter, who is part of the group, was no less adept. She used her face, hands and body animatedly to communicate the sweetness coming from her colleagues' mouths to the eyes of the excited hearing-impaired members of the audience. At one point, she was moved to leave the stage to greet them. It was another sweet moment for the night.

But, the delicious sounds that floated through the park and soothed all in attendance didn't flow only from the mellifluous quintet. The statuesque Subrina 'Brina' Murray, originally from Richmond, Manchester also has a sugary voice, which she used to great effect as she opened the show accompanied by the energetic and sensational band, Othneil Lewis and Friends. Singing in Swahili, English and Jamaican Creole, Brina justified her selection for the opening. I want to hear more of her.

Yet, I didn't get the chance to fully enjoy the show as I was busy covering it. There I was, jostling for camera space to get some good shots. I was as busy as a bee, taking notes and pictures, working for my honey. But there were moments when I put the notepad, pen and camera down to absorb the sweetness, the pleasure.

On my way home, I sing to myself, "There's honey in the rock my brother, there's honey in the rock for you ... ." But, will that honey flow on the night of my debut, as it did on the night when there was Sweet Honey in the Rock at Blues on the

Green?