Ysaye Maria Barnwell

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Ysaye Maria Barnwell
Born (1946-02-28) February 28, 1946 (age 73)
OriginNew York, U.S.
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, producer, educator, actor, writer
Years active1977–present
Associated acts

Ysaye Maria Barnwell (born February 28, 1946) is an American singer and composer. Barnwell was a member of the African American a cappella ensemble Sweet Honey in the Rock from 1979 to 2013.[1]

In addition to writing many of the group's songs,[2] Barnwell has been commissioned to create music for dance, choral, film, and stage productions. She is also known for being a female bass. Barnwell 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.[3]

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 speech pathology from the University of Pittsburgh. In 1981, she also earned a Master of Science in Public Health, from Howard University.[4]

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.[5] A second children's book and CD set was released in March 2008: We Are One.[6]

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. ^ Richard Harrington (November 22, 1993). "Sweet Honey at 20: Rock Solid". Washington Post. Retrieved June 23, 2019.
  3. ^ The Jubilee Singers
  4. ^ Biographical Information
  5. ^ No Mirrors in My Nana's House, Harcourt Children's Books, 1998, ISBN 0-15-201825-5 (hardcover), ISBN 0-15-205243-7 (paperback)
  6. ^ 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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