Sweet Honey in the Rock’s Nitanju Bolade Casel noted, in introducing the traditional song “Somebody Prayed for Me” early in the group’s Carnegie Hall concert Thursday night, that her grandmother–also her sister and fellow Sweet Honey singer Aisha Kahlil’s–told them how she prayed for “generations to come,” and how the sisters thereby “fell into prayer.”
And so now have several generations of Sweet Honey fans, as the historic African-American female a cappella group–now 43 years old–has handed down its own musical prayers, the latest being the new album #LoveInEvolution, of which “Somebody Prayed for Me” is the lead track.
But there were a couple noticeable differences this time at Carnegie Hall, where Sweet Honey has played countless times over the years. Since its last album, the two-CD A Tribute: Live! Jazz at Lincoln Center(2013), longtime member Ysaye Maria Barnwell departed, leaving fellow longtimers Casel and Kahlil, founding members Carol Maillard and Louise Robinson, and longtime sign language interpreter Shirley Childress. But in keeping with that release’s pioneering addition of backing musicians, Thursday night’s concert featured “Honey-man” electric and acoustic bassist Romeir Mendez, who also plays on the new album.