So, you scanned the code and now you're here! Welcome, and I hope you enjoy your Harmony Drops!
As a multisensory artist, I am called to explore by the many ways that sensory experiences can intersect to convey ideas, tell stories, and shape our life experiences. As "texture" and "flavour" are words we can use to describe characteristics of both music and food, I wanted to create and share a ritual that involves both!
Take a bite, scroll down, press play and allow the textures and flavours of sound and taste to lovingly guide your experience. Scroll down even further to learn about the art and artists that inspired this creation.
Naomi Grace, artist and founder of Melanin Rising
“Sweeter than a honey bee, my queen bee…”
Queen Bee is a song written and performed by African American blues musician Taj Mahal and appears on his 1997 album, Señor Blues. With lyrics and a meldy drippng with love and passion, Taj Mahal sings of the one he loves, his sweet and sensual Queen Bee.
“She love me to my soul.”
I was asked to create an offering specifically for May, which is bee month, and this song immediately came to mind. This song oozes with sunshine and makes me think of dancing barefoot in the golden hour in a field of fragrant flowers. Featuring rose and lavender and gilded in gold, this decadent and floral flavor profile is fit for royalty... I hope you enjoy.
I hope you enjoy this offering. It was truly inspired. Give thanks. NG.
About Taj Mahal
Taj Mahal, original name Henry Saint Clair Fredericks, (born May 17, 1942, New York, New York, U.S.), American singer, guitarist, and songwriter who was one of the pioneers of what came to be called world music. He combined acoustic blues and other African American music with Caribbean and West African music and other genres to create a distinctive sound.
Taj Mahal (the name came to him in a dream) grew up in a musical family. His father, of Jamaican background, was a jazz musician and arranger; his mother, a schoolteacher, sang gospel music. While a student at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, in the early 1960s, he began exploring the origins of African American music and focused on acoustic blues. Following graduation, he played in folk clubs until he moved to California in 1965. There he teamed up with Ry Cooder to form the band Rising Sons.
Returning to solo performing, he released his first album, Taj Mahal, in 1968. This and other albums recorded during the next several years—notably Giant Step/De Ole Folks at Home (1969) and Recycling the Blues and Other Related Stuff (1972)—featured blues songs infused with ragtime, reggae, gospel, and other sounds. Mahal typically accompanied himself on a National steel guitar but was also accomplished on a number of other instruments; he would frequently include electric instruments, tubas, steel drums, and such exotic instruments as the kalimba (thumb piano) on his recordings, often in unexpected combinations.
Mahal recorded several dozen albums over the course of his career; a major anthology, In Progress & In Motion (1965–1998), was released in 1998. He explored world music on Mumtaz Mahal (1995), recorded with Indian musicians; Sacred Island (1998), a delve into Hawaiian music; and Kulanjan (1999), on which he partnered with Malian kora player Toumani Diabaté. Mahal’s work also included scores for motion pictures—notably Sounder (1972) and Sounder II (1976), in which he also had acting roles—and for the play Mule Bone (1991), originally written by Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston in the 1930s. He received Grammy Awards for best contemporary blues album for Señor Blues (1997) and Shoutin’ in Key (2000), and his duet album with Keb’ Mo’, TajMo (2017), also earned that award.
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King Lalibela of Ethiopia
King Lalibela of the Zagwe dynasty ruled the Ethiopian empire from 1181-1221 and is best known for the rock-hewn churches of Northern Ethiopia in the ancient city that bears his name.
According to oral history, Lalibela was swarmed by bees at birth but was left unscathed, which his mother identified as a sign of his future reign. His name in the Agaw language means "the bees recognize his sovereignty".
Bee keeping and has been practiced in Ethiopia for thousands of years. The national drink, Tej, is made from honey. In certain regions, honey is a sacrament and is used as a healing ointment.
Bees in Ancient Egypt
Honey was used by all classes in Ancient Egypt, indicating that it must have been produced on a large scale. It was used for everything from sweetening food, to preventing infection by being placed on wounds, to paying taxes. One marriage contract has been found which states, "I take thee to wife... and promise to deliver to thee yearly twelve jars of honey."
Honey and wax were used for religious as well as practical purposes. Sacred animals were fed cakes sweetened with honey. These animals included the sacred bull at Memphis, the sacred lion at Leontopolis, and the sacred crocodile at Crocodilopolis. Mummies were sometimes embalmed in honey, and often sarcophagi were sealed up with beeswax. Jars of honey were left in tombs as offerings the dead, to give them something to eat in the afterlife.
Bees In South Africa
In the Xhosa culture (Madiba clan), visitation by a swarm of bees is presumed to be a message from the ancestors who would like the family to do something for them. If the bees produce honey while they are visiting, all honey combs are removed by a member of the family and placed on small branches before being consumed. Most importantly, words of respect are spoken to the bees as they are persuaded to leave.
In the Pedi culture, a swarm of bees in the yard is always taken as a symbol of the ancestors bringing luck to the family. After an offering of beer is made, the ancestors are summoned, their presence acknowledged, and the anticipation of blessings is made known. The bees are never chased away or killed, and are left in peace to leave of their own accord.