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Music Spotlight

Sweet Honey in the Rock

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Whether you've seen them once, twice or a dozen times, nothing quite prepares you for the joyous experience of a concert by Sweet Honey in the Rock. Now in its 30th year, the Grammy Award-winning, African American female a cappella group blends spirituals, blues, jazz and hand percussion in a gorgeous musical mix that leaves audiences soaring for days afterward.

But Sweet Honey doesn't stop there. Its performances also include movement, sharply political lyrics and spontaneous storytelling, as well as an American Sign Language interpreter, Shirley Childress Jackson, whose uniquely expressive style is one of the most captivating things about seeing the group live.

As if that wasn't enough to fill the house, the concert on Sunday, Feb. 23, is a benefit for two worthy local organizations, North Carolina Deaf-Blind Associates (ncdeafblind.org) and Arts Access Inc. (artsaccessinc.org), both of which empower people with disabilities to participate fully in the area's culture and politics. Opening the show will be North Carolina resident Christine Carter, who performs and sings music that she herself cannot hear.

According to deaf-blind advocate Deidre Docker, who approached Sweet Honey about doing an event in Raleigh, this is the first fundraiser in a series whose ultimate goal is the establishment of a Support Service Provider program across the state.

"Individuals with vision and hearing loss often lack basic support," Docker says. "There might be a computer programmer who can program anything you want, but who can't go to the grocery store, or who can't read his mail." An SSP program, she adds, allows that person to pay for help with those tasks, which in turn frees him or her to become a more mobile and independent citizen in the long run.

The evening will also offer audience members an opportunity to experience hearing and vision loss through a series of simulated activities, including special glasses--used in training for SSP volunteers--that allow individuals with normal vision to see through the eyes of a visually impaired person.

Sounds like an evening that will leave you feeling great.

Like all evenings with Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Sweet Honey in the Rock, Sunday, Feb. 23, at 7 p.m. in Meymandi Concert Hall, BTI Center for Performing Arts, 2 South St., Raleigh. Tickets are available for $35, $25 and $21 from TicketMaster (834-4000). Sign language interpreting services will be available for individuals who are deaf, deaf-blind, and hard of hearing. For preferential seating in front of the interpreter, call 831-6972.

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