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Release: Immediate

Sweet Honey in the Rock brings a cappella African-American music to UI

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Grammy Award-winning a-cappella female quintet, will make the University of Iowa Hancher Auditorium ring with the sounds of gospel, spirituals, ballads, jazz and blues at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 13.

The concert is the first event in the Gazette American Visions Series. The Sept. 13 date is a change from the originally scheduled date of Sept. 14.

The repertoire of Sweet Honey in the Rock, founded in 1973 by Bernice Johnson Reagon, has its roots in the music of the sacred music of the black church -- spirituals, hymns and gospel -- as well as jazz and the blues.

But Sweet Honey in the Rock is not merely a singing group. It is a traveling and community-based cultural institution, dedicated to the preservation and celebration of African-American culture.

Combining their powerful voices with hand-held and foot percussion, movement and narrative, the five women of Sweet Honey in the Rock speak out against oppression and exploitation of all kinds, becoming artistic advocates for justice and humanity. They are always accompanied by their own American Sign Language interpreter.

Joann Dean wrote in Brother and Sister Magazine, "Sweet Honey is a testimony to a living body that not only sings about the issues of the day but interprets them in a visual and visceral verse."

The group received the 1996 National Black Arts Festival Award for Distinguished Achievement. In addition to the 1989 Grammy Award, they have twice won the top awards of the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America, the Best Women's Album and Best Gospel Album awards from the National Association of Independent Record Distributors, and three national awards for recordings of children's music.

Sweet Honey in the Rock is well-known to audiences throughout the world through their extensive international tours -- recent engagements have included London, Australia and Singapore -- and nearly 15 recordings. Their Hancher concert is at the beginning of an eight-month national tour in which the group will travel the length and breadth of America, from Maine to Hawaii and California to Florida.

Hancher director Wally Chappell says, "I'm delighted that Hancher is finally able to bring Sweet Honey in the Rock to our audience. This is a group I've wanted to present for many seasons, and it's a group in which many people in the community have expressed an interest."

Tickets for Sweet Honey in the Rock are $24, $22 and $20. UI students and senior citizens qualify for a 20-percent discount, with Zone 3 tickets available to UI students for $10. Tickets for young people 17 and younger are half price.

Tickets are also available at a 20 percent discount as part of the fall American Visions Series. Other events in the series are BeauSoleil and the Dirty Dozen on Sept. 20 and Tex-Mex songstress Tish Hinojosa on Nov. 1.

The Gazette is the corporate sponsor of American Visions, through the University of Iowa Foundation.

Hancher box office hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday and 1-3 p.m. Sunday. From the local calling area or outside Iowa, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance within Iowa and western Illinois is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. Orders may be charged to VISA, MasterCard or American Express. UI students may charge their purchases to their university bills, and UI faculty and staff may select the option of payroll deduction.

People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158. This number will be answered by box office personnel prepared to offer assistance with handicapped parking, wheelchair access and seating, hearing augmentation and other services. The line is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology.