Ysaye Maria Barnwell

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Ysaye Maria Barnwell
Born (1946-02-28) February 28, 1946 (age 68)
Origin New York
Genres A cappella, soul, R&B, blues, folk
Occupations Singer, songwriter, producer, educator, actor, writer
Instruments Vocals, drums,
Years active 1977–present
Labels Flying Fish, EarthBeat!/Warner Bros. Records, Music For Little People, Rykodisc, Sony Music,
Associated acts Sweet Honey in the Rock, Jubilee Singers
Website www.ymbarnwell.com

Ysaye Maria Barnwell (born 1946) was a member of the African American a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock from 1979 to 2013.[1] She is a prolific composer, writing many of the group's songs, as well as being commissioned to create music for dance, choral, film, and stage productions. She conducts music workshops around the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and Australia, including a workshop she created called "Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition". In 1977, she founded the Jubilee Singers, a choir at All Souls Church, Unitarian in Washington, DC.[2]

Barnwell earned bachelor's and master's degrees (1967 and 1968) in speech pathology from State University of New York at Geneseo, and a PhD (1975) in cranio-facial studies from the University of Pittsburgh. In 1981, she also earned a Master of Science in Public Health, from Howard University.[3]

Barnwell produced Sweet Honey in the Rock's 1998 25th anniversary album, ...Twenty-Five..., and edited Continuum: The First Songbook of Sweet Honey in the Rock.

Barnwell's acting credits include a principal role on a television series called A Man Called Hawk; she also appeared in the 1998 film Beloved.

Barnwell released a solo recording of stories and song, Um Humm, in 2000.

Barnwell has also written a children's book with CD, No Mirrors in My Nana's House.[4] A second children's book and CD set was released in March 2008: We Are One.[5]

Barnwell was named after the great Belgian violinist, Eugène Ysaÿe.[citation needed]

Barnwell performed her final show with Sweet Honey in the Rock, May 11, 2013, at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.[citation needed]


  1. ^ http://www.ymbarnwell.com/about.php
  2. ^ The Jubilee Singers
  3. ^ Biographical Information
  4. ^ No Mirrors in My Nana's House, Harcourt Children's Books, 1998, ISBN 0-15-201825-5 (hardcover), ISBN 0-15-205243-7 (paperback)
  5. ^ We Are One book and musical CD based on the song "We Are" by Barnwell, Harcourt Children's Books, ISBN 0-15-205735-8

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