Vienna Carroll is a singer, playwright, actor, historian and herbalist.
It’s the fire in her belly that lights up the fire in your soul. Vienna’s folksy blues and soulful funk take you back to church and her roots. She learned music from the Black Ladies of her youth, including her fearsome great grandmother who accompanied Grand Ole Opry country radio on her guitar every Saturday night but played only proper Pentecostal chords on Sunday.
Vienna also attended her godmother’s Baptist church and sang in the choir at her family’s AME church. At her Alabama grandmother’s 125 acre working farm, she listened to gospel and country on the radio and joined in the Sunday church services an hour’s drive away down a dusty road, where singing was often accompanied only by the hand clapping and shouting of its fervent members. She later formalized her study of early African American music and culture at Yale University, where she received a BA in African American Studies.
The passion in Vienna’s voice and her masterful storytelling fill a room, draw you in and hold you close. She interweaves old songs and forgotten stories of Black heroes to give you a memorable larger-than-life performance that’ll have you clapping your hands, tapping your feet and singing along. Her influences are Nina Simone, Ray Charles, Dinah Washington and her early church experiences.
Her Harlem Field Recordings CD is Black Roots music with a Serious Groove. It features Vienna on vocals, Stanley Banks (George Benson) on bass, Newman Taylor Baker, (Joe Henderson, McCoy Tyner, Henry Grimes) on washboard, Keith Johnston(Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Jon Hendricks) on guitar; and guests Nioka Workman (Anthony Braxton, David Murray) on cello, Melanie Dyer (Joe Bonner, Reggie Workman) on viola, and Henrique Prince (Ebony Hillbillies, Sun Ra Arkestra) on violin.
Vienna's first album, Singin Wid A Sword in Ma Han reprised tunes from her award-winning play of the same name in collaboration with Washboard XT on spoons, pots and other percussion.
Her second album, Vienna Carroll Live, is a live recording of an evening celebrating Blues and Roots music at NYC’s famous Living Room and featured Washboard XT, Michael O’Brien (Harry Connick Jr., Ruben Blades) on bass, Melanie Dyer and Keith Johnston.
Vienna's current CD project in development, Harlem Country, includes stories that highlight sea shanties, work songs from the water and rare spirituals, Black songs in whose bosom all American music rests. She will continue to work with her stellar string band.
Plays and Other Projects: |SHALLOW BROWN: Thessalonia and the Free Sailor, First Langston Hughes Playwright Showcase, Harlem NY |Valor In The Hills, award-winning series about a free Black NY community during the Civil War. Hudson River Museum, Yonkers NY |First NYC Underground Railroad Festival Juneteenth Celebration, Plymouth Church of the Pilgrim, Brooklyn NY |Singin Wid A Sword In Ma Han, NYC Fringe Festival Audience Favorite Award.
Vienna is a NYFA/NYSCA Artist Fellow in Music/Sound.