On the left is Andrea Pearlman Richards on the right Carol Maillard. This picture is from a concert in Philadelphia in 2015 when Carol first recognized Andrea from her Twitter activity. “I Know You”

Andrea Pearlman Richards

On the same evening, Andrea Pearlman Richards (on the right) and Shirley Childress Saxon (on the left) met for the approximately 30th time as Andrea loved to watch her perfotin American Sign Language and introduce her friends in the Deaf Community.

Hello, it’s just a little ole me. I am a fan, well, actually a HUGE fan, just like you may be of somebody that you are just nuts about. Sweet Honey in the Rock came into my life when I was a College student back in 1987. I was attending Boston university and entrenched in the deaf education department. Hanging on the wall in my professor Bob Hoffmeister‘s office was a poster of the beautiful women of Sweet Honey in the Rock. I had never heard of them, and was fascinated to learn that as part of their ensemble was in fact, an American Sign Language interpreter, who was also a child of deaf adults (CODA).

I lived in Westchester, New York, and during the Hudson River Clearwater Revival concert I first laid my eyes on the mesmerizing sign interpretation and poetry of Shirley Childress Johnson, and was equally enthralled with the sound and the message of Sweet Honey in the Rock. From that year on, I tried to see them as many times as I could in one year and was lucky enough to see them about four times every year.

Maybe you can relate to this, but their music became one of my dear friends and has been with me during poignant times. I turn to their music when I need encouragement, a lullaby, calming, empowerment. I played catch with my son with them, sat with my grandmother and grandfather as they transitioned out of this world with them, even had a song of theirs front and center on my wedding day. They were the only music I could listen to for months following the tragedy of September 11, 2001. I call them my religion, my girls, my soul, food. If there is something I’m feeling, they are the ones that bring me what I need to hear. I have learned a lot of history through them as well. I hope everyone has something as powerful as they are for me in their lives.

In 2015 the school that I was working at was forming a Union. I joined Twitter so that I could be on top of the messaging and discovered Sweet Honey in the Rock active there. I began tweeting and retweeting to them and about them. A few months later, at their concert in Philadelphia, I stood in line to have my CD signed, and Carol Maillard recognized me immediately as what she said was her “Twitter fan”. I humbly accepted, even though I had followed them for almost 30 years at that point, and requested her friendship on Facebook.

We went out to eat and fell in love as friends, connecting, laughing and sharing our personal journey stories. Through Carol, I have come to develop an everlasting friendship with Louise Robinson as well. Twitter, you crazy platform (that I no longer engage with) I’m forever in your gratitude!! Both Carol and Louise know that no matter how much I love them as people I will never get over the fact that they are in my life because of how they have been with me for so many years as my go to soul support of choice. I honestly don’t know where I would be today if I didn’t have their music beside me, and now their friendship is precious to me!