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September 14, 2004

Maine Today

A picture-perfect sunny Sunday afternoon didn't keep the Chestnut Street Church from drawing an impressive Dr. Ysave Maria Barnwell, best known as the baritone voice of the world-renowned singing group Sweet Honey in the Rock, led the collaboration between the Maine Gospel Choir and Women in Harmony, a local chorus. The afternoon got started with the women's ensemble Full Circle, directed my Anne-Marie D'Amico, who credits Barnwell as being a big influence. Full Circle delivered two very different songs; a Japanese one about fireflies and the second an inspirational song about freedom.

Women in Harmony, comprised of about 35 women, began with the Holly Near song "Hay Una Mujer Despareicida," about Chilean repression of women. It was haunting and well-sung. Their next song told of being "bound for glory" and the phrase "I'm gonna break this chain" was repeated throughout. Then all the singers converged on stage. Members of Full Circle, Women in Harmony and The Maine Gospel Choir were at least 65 people strong and included about half a dozen men.

It was a show-stopping moment when Barnwell walked from the rear of the church and stood in front of the chorus. She had spent the last few days working with all these singers at workshops held at the Center for Cultural Exchange and we got to enjoy the fruits of their labors. Ysave said, "We are building a movement. One day we're gonna have a big sing-in and I'm gonna be a very happy person." More

Posted by acapnews at September 14, 2004 9:27 PM