Ysaye M. Barnwell
Ysaye Maria Barnwell is an American singer, composer, educator, and scholar.
Barnwell was born in Washington, D.C., and began her musical career as a child, singing in church choirs and studying piano. She went on to study music at Howard University and later became a member of Sweet Honey in the Rock, a world-renowned a cappella ensemble known for their political activism and performances of African American spirituals, folk songs, and original compositions. Barnwell was with the group from 1979 to 2014.
In addition to her work with Sweet Honey in the Rock, Barnwell has worked as a solo artist and collaborated with a wide range of musicians and artists, including Bobby McFerrin, Odetta, and Sweet Honey in the Rock founder Bernice Johnson Reagon. She is also an accomplished educator and has taught music and vocal workshops throughout the United States and Europe.
Barnwell has received numerous awards and accolades for her contributions to the music world, including a National Heritage Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Distinguished Alumni Award from Howard University. She is considered one of the leading voices in the African American a cappella tradition.