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Release: Nov. 20, 2002

(NOTE TO PRINT AND WEB EDITORS: Images are available for download at

Sweet Honey In The Rock Returns To Hancher With A-Cappella Magic

Sweet Honey in the Rock, the Grammy Award-winning a-cappella female quintet that was a huge hit in a 1997 University of Iowa concert, will once again make Hancher Auditorium ring with the sounds of gospel, spirituals, ballads, jazz and blues at 8 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14.

During their holiday-season return to the UI, they will also present a special matinee performance for school groups on Hancher’s Stage Door Series, Dec. 13.

The repertoire of Sweet Honey in the Rock, founded in 1973 by Bernice Johnson Reagon, has its roots in 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. The group took its name from the biblical parable telling of a land so rich that when rocks were cracked open, honey flowed out.

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 and more than 15 recordings.

Hancher Guild, the auditorium’s volunteer organization, is the sponsor of Sweet Honey in the Rock, through sales in the Hancher Showcase gift shop.

Tickets for Sweet Honey in the Rock are $32, $30 and $27 ($26.50 and $10 for UI students; $26.50, $24 and $21.60 for senior citizens; and half price for audience members 17 and younger).

Hancher Auditorium box office business hours are 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturdays. From the local calling area, dial (319) 335-1160. Long distance is toll-free, 1-800-HANCHER. Fax to (319) 353-2284. People with special needs for access, seating and auxiliary services should dial (319) 335-1158, which is equipped with TDD for people with hearing impairment who use that technology. Tickets may be ordered on-line 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Hancher’s website:

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. Information and brochures may be requested by e-mail: <>.

Learn more about Sweet Honey in the Rock at For UI arts information, visit on the World Wide Web. To receive UI arts news by e-mail, contact <>.