Musician, actress, and educator Ysaye Barnwell, PhD, MSPH, has performed as a member of the internationally acclaimed A Capella quintet Sweet Honey in the Rock since 1979. She appears as a vocalist and/or instrumentalist on more than 25 recordings with Sweet Honey as well as with other artists.
Barnwell founded and for three years directed the All Souls Jubilee Singers in Washington, D.C. She composes and arranges music for vocal ensembles, and her work can be heard on more than 12 recordings on the Flying Fish, EarthBeat!/Warner, Music For Little People, and Rykodisc labels. She has done commissioned work for numerous dance, film, and video projects, including Sesame Street, Dance Alloy of Pittsburgh, David Rousseve’s Reality Dance Company, Liz Lerman Dance Exchange, Women’s Philharmonic of San Francisco, Redwood Cultural Work, and numerous choirs.
Since the 1980s, Barnwell has conducted a workshop throughout the United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Australia called Building a Vocal Community: Singing in the African American Tradition.
The daughter of a violinist, Barnwell began her 15-year study of the violin with her father at the age of two and a half. She holds bachelor and master of science degrees in speech pathology, a doctor of philosophy degree in craniofacial studies from the University of Pittsburgh, a master of science in public health from Howard University, and an honorary doctor of humane letters from State University of New York, Geneseo. She has been a professor at the College of Dentistry at Howard University and, in addition to conducting community-based projects in computer technology and the arts, she has administered and implemented health programs at Children’s Hospital National Medical Center and at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.