In Celebration of the Human Voice - The Essential Musical Instrument
Quietly and gently, informally and gradually, Black Voices was nurtured under the directorship of Carol Pemberton and Bob Ramdhanie. Since 1987, these two friends have steered Black Voices into one of the most solid performance and teaching companies, sharing a cappella, primarily from Africa but also throughout the Diaspora. The company is inspired by Sweet Honey in the Rock, Mahalia Jackson and Take Six, to name but a few, but since inception, has forged its own dynamic way of distilling and re-presenting black music from a Caribbean, black British perspective. Grounded in the black church, the group began presenting a cappella, both sacred and secular, which was always challenging and entertaining. From gospel to spirituals, Caribbean to African, jazz and blues, Black Voices is firmly rooted in music that energises and uplifts, challenges and educates. The company hosted and presented its own a cappella series with BBC Radio 2, has performed for radio and television in numerous countries around the world, has produced nine CDs, and has researched, produced, directed and performed in several international collaborations.
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Review: If you lived in England and enjoyed having your spirit moved by music which captured the truth of freedom, love, and justice, all wrapped in beautiful harmony, you would be a Black Voices fan, eagerly awaiting their next show or recording. They are a collective of singers who exist to inspire but always perform as a quintet. For twelve years this group has been conducting workshops, concerts and recording with Carol Pemberton acting as the Music Director. This recording celebrate their tenth anniversary with a variety of quintets comprised of the current nine members of the collective. Some old standards are treated with respect but offered with unique arrangements. You'll find Ysaye Barnwell's "We Are" leads off the selection of fourteen songs and it is a fitting beginning for the obvious spiritual kinship that Black Voices shares with Sweet Honey in the Rock. In the traditional realm are "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" and "Deep River." Songs so familiar to be nearly standards are Carole King's "Natural Woman" and "Way Over Yonder" along with Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason." Carol Pemberton's "Rise Up and Praise," and Monique Reid's "A Song of Peace" and "Always In My Heart" may well be covered by others until they become that familiar. Then one has to ask, who can actually cover one of Scott Leonard's tunes and not fall short by the standards set by Rockapella? You'll find out the answer to that question while listening to Black Voices arrangement of "Nowhere."
Review: The five beautiful young women who are Black Voices bring us a rich and varied collection of traditional music ("The Lord's Prayer," "Amen," the spiritual "Steal Away," the Scottish folk song "Caledonia," and "In The Upper Room"), Contemporary music (the powerful "I'm Goin' Stand," Stevie Wonder's "Love's in Need," C. Pemberton's "Living In a Real World," "Ayiya-An African Feel," and "Blues Strands") and Reggae ("Reggae Medley" of five songs. There is a lot of feeling and strength in this CD, in the choice of the music and especially in the harmonies of the perfectly pitched voices. There's some electric bass on "Blues Strands," otherwise all a cappella.