SPAWNED AND nurtured by Sweet Honey in the Rock, the seven-woman a cappella group In Process . . . has learned its lessons well. The Washington-based ensemble's new self-titled album is charged with Sweet Honey-like harmonies, emotion and determination.
Not a little credit for that has to go to Sweet Honey's guiding light, Bernice Johnson Reagon, whose presence is felt throughout the recording. Reagon arranged four of the album's 14 selections, transforming spirituals (and, in one instance, "The Banana Boat Song") into passionate freedom songs in which one stirring voice is often buttressed by a rousing choral effect. No doubt she helped shape and inform much of the ensemble's sound and repertoire elsewhere on the record too.
Not surprisingly, some of the most moving performances are the most topical. Heading the list are two songs by Michelle Lanchester -- "Boarder Babies," a powerful prayer and lament for cocaine-addicted babies; and "Patchwork Quilt," a sobering reflection on the AIDS epidemic. Another standout is Pam Rogers's "Wasteland," which examines both the indignities and ironies of being homeless in America.
IN PROCESS . . . -- "In Process . . . " (In Process . . . ). Appearing at 7 and 10 Friday with Sweet Honey in the Rock at the First Congregational Church, 945 G St. NW. Call 703/486-0887.