Tag Archives: Ysaye Barnwell

Songs When You Need Them: Ysaye Barnwell and the music of community, resistance, and power.

Adapted from UU World by Kimberly French
Join Ysaye at Hollyhock for Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition on July 22-27, 2016.

‘Don’t sing it in your finest classical voice,” Ysaye Barnwell gently cautioned. The former bass singer with the a cappella group Sweet Honey in the Rock was teaching a chant from central Africa’s Ituri Rainforest to a mostly white group at Rowe Camp, in Massachusetts’ Berkshire Mountains. She demonstrated with her powerful voice: “Ama-ee-boo Oh-ee-yay-ee. There’s a little yodel in there. You should love that. Close your eyes . . . that’s it! Perfect!”

For the past three decades Barnwell’s day job—when she wasn’t touring and recording with Sweet Honey—has been teaching the African American tradition of community singing to groups like this one all over the world. Clad in a black leather hat and jacket, with loads of gold rings and bangles, she took center stage in the rustic recreation hall.

She gave no written music. Everything was oral. We just listened. And watched. And, most of all, felt the soul of the music and learned where it comes from. In fact, Barnwell forbids taking notes or recording.

“I don’t know a translation I can articulate. But in central Africa, someone will start singing this chant whenever there’s discord. They’ll sing as long as they have to, till the community is ready to move forward and the spiritual leaders can come in. It may take hours, even days.” Continue reading Songs When You Need Them: Ysaye Barnwell and the music of community, resistance, and power.

Presenter Profile I Dr. Ysaye Barnwell

Content source: Building a Vocal Community®
Featured image source: Dr. Ysaye M Barnwell

Dr. Ysaÿe M. Barnwell is a native of New York City who has lived in Washington, DC since 1968.

She is the only child of Marcella  Robinson Barnwell, a registered nurse, and Irving Frederick Barnwell a classical violinist who shared his knowledge of the violin with her for 15 year, beginning at  the age of 21/2.  Barnwell majored in music through High School and then earned the Bachelor and Master of Science degrees in Speech Pathology (SUNY, Geneseo, 1967, 1968), Doctor of Philosophy in Speech Pathology (University of Pittsburgh, 1975), and Master of Science in Public Health (Howard University, 1981).  In 1998, Dr. Barnwell was awarded the honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree by her alma mater – SUNY Geneseo, NY,  the Virginia Theological Seminary, the Meadville Lombard Theological Seminary, and the Chicago Theological Seminary. 

For over a decade, Dr. Barnwell was a professor at the College of Dentistry at Howard University and completing her degree in Public Health, she went on to administered public health programs at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center and at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC and,  as a volunteer, assisted  community based organizations in the use of computer technology.
Continue reading Presenter Profile I Dr. Ysaye Barnwell

Ysaye Returns Summer 2015

We are thrilled to have Ysaye Barnwell returning to Hollyhock this summer!

Join her on July 31st thru August 5th for Building a Vocal Community™ on Cortes Island.

Left to right: Laurel Murphy, Rhiannon and Ysaye Barnwell in a moment of spontaneous vocal invention. Filmed during a week-long singing retreat at Hollyhock, Cortes Island in 2001.

Rhiannon is also returning to Hollyhock this summer, but only has a few spots left!

Join her July 12th thru 17th on Cortes Island in her program Vocal River.

 

 

Laurel Murphy, Rhiannon, Ysaye Barnwell – Improvisation

Left to right: Laurel Murphy, Rhiannon and Ysaye Barnwell in a moment of spontaneous vocal invention. Filmed during a week-long singing retreat at Hollyhock, Cortes Island in 2001.

We couldn’t be more excited to have both Laurel and Rhiannon teaching at Hollyhock again in 2014!

The Spontaneous Voice, April 12 – 13, presenter by Laurel Murphy in Vancouver, BC.

Vocal Improvisation: The Mystery & Technique, Jul 13 – 18, presented by Rhiannon on Cortes Island, BC.

Sweet Honey in the Rock – Wanting Memories

Ysaye M. Barnwell, PhD, is an author, singer, composer and performer with Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Ysaye-BarnwellFor over a decade, Dr. Barnwell was a professor at the College of Dentistry at Howard University, after which she conducted community based projects in computer technology and the arts, and administered health programs at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center and at Gallaudet University in Washington, DC.  Dr. Barnwell joined Sweet Honey In The Rock® in 1979 and her training as a Sing Language Interpreter, led her to facilitated the group’s practice of making concerts accessible to the Deaf through American Sign Language interpretation.

Dr. Barnwell appears as a vocalist and/or instrumentalist on more than thirty recordings with Sweet Honey In The Rock and other artists.  She has, for the past thirty years spent much of her time off stage working as a master teacher and choral clinician in African American cultural performance. Her workshop “Building a Vocal Community®: Singing in the African American Tradition” has during the past twenty-five years,  been conducted  on three continents, making her work in the field a significant source of inspiration for both singers and non-singers, a model of pedagogy for educators, and cultural activists and historians (source: vocalcommunity.com)

In the video below she talks about her family and roots of the song “Wanting Memories”.

 

Dr. Barnwell will be at Hollyhock on Cortes Island, July 12-17, 2013 presenting Building a Vocal Community – Singing in the African American Tradition.

Check out the blog post below where she talks about why Hollyhock is a special place to present her work.