Grammy Award-Winning a Cappella Ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock Release, "Are We a Nation?" - A Response to Arizona's Immigration Law SB-1070 Through Song


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Sweet Honey In The Rock


“...I have always believed art is the conscience of the human soul and that artists have the responsibility not only to show life as it is but to show life as it should be. ... Sweet Honey In The Rock has withstood the onslaught. She has been unprovoked by the 30 pieces of silver. Her songs lead us to the well of truth that nourishes the will and courage to stand strong. She is the keeper of the flame." ...Harry Belafonte, artist and activist

New York, NY - On April 23, 2010, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed what The New York Times described as “the nation's toughest bill on illegal immigration...reigniting the divisive battle over immigration reform nationally." In response to SB-1070 being enacted, the acclaimed women's a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey In The Rock, decided to take action and lift her collective voice through song against the bill. The song, “ARE WE A NATION?", will be released by Sweet Honey's independent record label SHE-ROCKS 5 on Tuesday, June 22 via CD Baby, the nation's largest online distributor of independent music and will be available on all major online music sites such as iTunes and Amazon.com by June 29. The song's music video, directed and produced by James Lester, will be released online June 22. A portion of the funds from the sales of “ARE WE A NATION?" will go to the Center for Community Change . Sweet Honey and the Center will offer the song as a free download on their respective web sites ( [http://www.sweethoney.com] and [http://www.communitychange.org] ) for one week June 14-21. Additionally, the single will be available to stream via Sweet Honey's official Facebook Fan Page at during this time.

“Sweet Honey In The Rock has, since 1973, created musical ways to express outrage and compassion, to nurture and empower our audiences, and to document the times, and to preserve and extend African American vocal traditions," Sweet Honey member Ysaye Barnwell said. “We grew out of the Civil Rights Movement, stood and sang in opposition to the apartheid movement in South Africa and we continue to struggle in solidarity with oppressed people throughout the world where greed, hatred and fear abound. We can not condone Arizona's law SB-1070."

“The Center for Community Change is thrilled to partner with Sweet Honey in the Rock in the fight to fix our broken immigration system and challenge the misguided Arizona law," Deepak Bhargava, executive director of the Center for Community Change said. “We are so appreciative of the role that Sweet Honey in the Rock play as artists and the messages they promote as activists. The song 'ARE WE A NATION?' will catapult the immigration issue into pop culture and challenge Americans to become active in the fight for social justice and immigrant rights, in Arizona and across the country."

Founded in 1968 to honor the life and values of Robert F. Kennedy , the Center for Community Change is one of the longest-standing champions for low-income people and communities of color. The mission of the Center is to build the power and capacity of low -income people, especially low-income people of color, to change their communities and public policies for the better. The Center trains grassroots organizers and organizations to build support within and outside their communities, understand complex public policy issues, and help local residents become active participants in democracy.

Sweet Honey members Aisha Kahlil, Louise Robinson, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Carol Maillard and Ysaye Barnwell wrote “ARE WE A NATION? “ with Barry J. Eastmond. The song features a Spoken Word verse written by Yonas, Nitanju Bolade Casel and Carol Maillard. Yonas , the 2009 Billboard Songwriting Award winner for Best Hip-Hop /Rap Song, performs the verse.

Grammy Award winner Barry J. Eastmond, one of the most prolific songwriter/producers in R&B and Pop music, produced “ARE WE A NATION?" Eastmond has shaped over sixty gold, platinum, and multi-platinum albums for some of the most important contemporary recording artists with cumulative sales of over 80 million copies.

“It was a real honor and thrill for me to collaborate with, and produce the amazingly gifted Sweet Honey In The Rock on such a relevant and timely song 'ARE WE A NATION?,'" Eastmond said. “It makes a truly powerful statement about immigration and also challenges us as Americans to make the right choices."

“We hope that 'ARE WE A NATION?' will stimulate interest in and conversation about the Arizona law SB-1070," Barnwell said. “We also hope that the song will foster an understanding of the law 's broader implications. We believe we are a nation that can create laws that bind this nation together rather than tear this nation apart."

Join the Center for Community Change in the fight against hatred and discrimination and text NATION to 69866. To learn more about the Center go to communitychange.org.

About Sweet Honey In The Rock

Sweet Honey In The Rock has built a distinguished legacy over the past three decades as one of the most celebrated ambassadors of a cappella music, and in some circles they're revered as national treasures. In the process, they created their own unique style and interpretation of a cappella music by fusing five scintillating and soulful voices with the texture, harmonic blend, and raw quality that is indigenous and true to authentic a cappella music. In essence, they've created their very own sound, with the perfect mix of “vocals" and “a cappella," which is aptly showcased and captured in a wide range of musical genres including, blues, spirituals, traditional gospel hymns, rap, reggae, African chants, Hip Hop, ancient lullabies, and jazz improvisation.

With 23 recordings, two books ("We Who Believe in Freedom: Sweet Honey in the Rock...Still On The Journey," and “Continuum: The First Songbook of Sweet Honey In the Rock"), and numerous awards (they were most recently nominated for a Grammy in 2008 for their children's release, “Experience...101"), they were also the subjects of a feature-length documentary film, “Sweet Honey In The Rock: Raise Your Voice," produced and directed by Stanley Nelson, originally televised on PBS-TV's American Masters series and released as a DVD in 2005.

In addition to performing in Europe, Asia, Australia, New Zealand and Africa, they have toured extensively throughout the United States, performing at many of the country's most prestigious concert halls and performing arts centers.

In 2008-2009, they were the only music ensemble to be featured in Alvin Ailey's American Dance Theater 50th Anniversary national theatrical tour. They composed and contributed original music to the dance theater piece, “Go In Grace," and released a soundtrack of the same title. Most recently, Sweet Honey wrote, produced and performed “My Family" for the 2010 HBO documentary “A Family is a family is a family: A Rosie O'Donnell Celebration."

In addition to touring, Sweet Honey In The Rock has started working on their next CD -- a tribute to the history and evolution of a cappella music, entitled, “Sweet Vocappella." In April 2011, they will present a special tribute, “Sweet Honey in The Rock: Remembering Nina, Odetta, and Miriam," at Jazz at Lincoln Center. They are also developing a new collaborative piece for voices and symphony orchestra entitled, “Affirmations" with noted composer William Banfield, slated to premiere in 2012.

Founded in 1973 by Bernice Johnson Reagon at the D.C Black Repertory Theatre, original members of Sweet Honey In The Rock included Reagon, Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson and Mai Fredericks. For over three decades now, the ensemble has been a vital and innovative presence in the music culture of Washington , D.C. and in communities of conscience and on stages around the world. Today, Sweet Honey In The Rock is Ysaye Maria Barnwell, Nitanju Bolade Casel, Aisha Kahlil, Carol Maillard, Louise Robinson, and (American Sign Language Interpreter) Shirley Childress Saxton.

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