Rooted in spiritual music and steeped in African-American tradition without being preachy or heavy-handed, Sacred Ground pulls from the various faiths and life experiences of the women of Sweet Honey in the Rock. Their differences are reflected in their voices, writing, and inspirations and they create the greatness of this ensemble, exemplifying their belief that perfect harmony and unity can be borne out of diversity.
Bernice Johnson Reagon sets the pace here as the main songwriter and longest continual member of the group. Her poetry can’t help but offer cause for contemplation of our own lives, the lives of others, and the lives of our ancestors. Regardless of your ethnicity or faith, the African-American spirituals “No More Auction Block,” “Balm in Gilead,” and “Jordan River” sink into your core and make you think, make you feel.
Ysaye Barnwell contributes “Would You Harbor Me,” “Prayer,” and “We Are,” three songs that all but beg us to love one another as we love ourselves, despite the differences between us. One of the simplest and sweetest melodies comes from Carol Maillard in “Prayer to the One,” which makes the point that God or Spirit is with us everywhere at every moment, indeed closer than our very breath.
The journey these women, these voices, and these songs take you on is incredible, and leads you through many lands and times in search of the sacred, only to discover that everything and everyone that exists is sacred.