A LITTLE STREAM OF HONEY

Sung by Vernyce Dannells of Philadelphia in 2018. Vernyce is a quilter, artist, writer, poet, and story teller. I spent an afternoon in her West Philadelphia home, just blocks from my own childhood home, where she shared many songs and stories. I chose to make a quilt from the hobo song A Little Stream of Honey because it tells so much about the woman who sings it. Born to immigrant parents of West Indian and Uzbek descent, her family was forced from their undiscovered squatters’ encampment in Seattle by the government in the early 1960s. From there, her mother, took Vernyce and her twin brother on a train to Milwaukee to live with an "aunt."  That long journey and the generosity of the porters is a memory that shaped her. As a teenager facing the weight of a racist society, Vernyce found solace in the Baha'i community, early allies in the Civil Rights Movement, and her Baha'i faith and community remains a central part of her life. She first learned the song A Little Stream of Whiskey when she was working as a nationally contributing NPR producer working from Missoula, Montana. As a Baha'i, Vernyce does not drink, so she changed the historic lyric from “whiskey” to “honey.”

This Song Quilt is a transcription of how Vernyce sang A Little Stream of Honey. You'll notice the grid breaks down in the last two lines as she freely sings a coda. I picked a regal purple as the root color, because Vernyce shines purple in my eyes--and we both like purple shoes! The backing fabric and quilting are honeycombs, for obvious reasons. The quilt pattern is an Urban Elementz design that I used with the Innova auto-pilot. But I messed it up, so ended up using a ruler to quilt the bottom half. Life is all about improvisation. 

Vernyce Dannells at her home in Philadelphia, 2018. 

 

Honeycomb backing fabric and quilt design.