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Legendary Ladies Bringing Sweet Sounds to Tallahassee

Dwight Carter

Among the delights of this weekend’s Word of South Festival will be the acclaimed acappella singers Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Valencia Matthews, Florida A&M University’s dean of social sciences, arts and humanities, said Sweet Honey is her favorite group. She produced a concert with them 10 years ago. She said they perform every kind of music.

“It does not matter the race. They sing songs that are from the African Diaspora. They sing songs that empower women,” Matthew said. “They sing songs that make you laugh. They sing songs that make you feel like you’re in love, make you feel happy that you are in love.”

Carol Maillard, the lead singer on “Motherless Child”, said that’s no accident.  An actress, singer and composer, she helped to found Sweet Honey in the Rock in 1973.

“Like whatever their feelings are, whatever they’re going through, their thoughts about the political situation or the way the world is working at this point, we really want them to know that we understand that, and we hope that we’re addressing some of those things in our music,” Maillard said, adding, the group wants to entertain.

“It’s really basic. That’s what people want. They want to come in and hear good music and be inspired and get their feelings all roused up and everything. However, in the middle of that, we want people to feel like they’re being heard.”

Matthews was elated that FAMU students will be singing with the world-renowned artists.

“When I heard they were going to sing with them, I’m like, ‘All right, FAMU. All right for Sweet Honey.’ Because they don’t do that with a lot of people. I am hopeful that the students here appreciate and can understand how magnificent and what a wonderful opportunity this is --- because they don’t just do that with anybody,” Matthews said.

And choir director Mark Butler believed the students do get it. Some have performed Sweet Honey’s music already.

“So quite a few of them were pretty much aware. I’m pretty sure they’ve been to YouTube to listen to them, so they’re getting very excited about it at this time, which is a good thing,” Butler said.

Sweet Honey in the Rock and the FAMU Concert Choir will perform at the Cascades Park Amphitheater at 1:30 Sunday afternoon (4/12/15). It will be signed for the Deaf by a member of the group.