Ysaye Maria Barnwell

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Ysaye Maria Barnwell
Born (1946-02-28) February 28, 1946 (age 72)
OriginNew York, U.S.
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter, producer, educator, actor, writer
Years active1977–present
Associated acts

Ysaye Maria Barnwell (born February 28, 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 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.[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 speech pathology 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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