Vienna Carroll’s rich soulful sound takes you back to her first music love, the Black church. She tells forgotten stories of Black heroes and presents those old songs through a modern lens to make: Afro-Future Roots Music.
Vienna learned music from the Black Ladies of her youth, including her fearsome great grandmother who played guitar to Grand Ole Opry radio on Saturday nights but only proper Pentecostal chords on Sundays. When visiting her maternal grandmother’s 125-acre Alabama farm, Vienna 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.
Vienna formalized her studies of early Black music at Yale University with a BA in African American Studies. Her influences are Ray Charles, Dinah Washington, Nina Simone and the Black church.
Vienna’s soon to be released CD, Harlem: Afro-Future Roots, is a special collection of Spirituals that honor 31 shackled-and-chained enslaved ancestors who in 1826, on a boat from Baltimore to deep south death, threw their captors overboard and escaped to freedom. Vienna and The Folk debuted ‘Swing Low Sweet Chariot’ their first single from the upcoming CD, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in February 2023 to celebrate The Met’s Seneca Village exhibit.
The Folk, Vienna's stellar band guarantee that the new CD both respects tradition and is shot through with today’s rhythms and grooves: Keith Johnston (Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Jon Hendricks) on guitar; Stanley Banks (George Benson) on bass; Washboard XT/Newman Taylor Baker (Matthew Shipp, Henry Grimes, Ebony Hillbillies) on washboard; with a guest appearance by Robert Stern (Gil Gutierrez) on violin.
Vienna’s Harlem Field Recordings CD is Black Roots and Blues music that features Vienna, Stanley Banks, Washboard XT/Newman Taylor Baker, Keith Johnston, 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. The cover artwork is by Ken Daley.
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.
Her next album Vienna Carroll Live was a live recording celebrating Blues and Black 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.
Mary Had a Baby is Vienna’s Christmas EP infused with holiday spirit, including jazz standards and the traditional Spiritual of the title’s name. It is dedicated to Harriet Tubman and the United States Colored Troops who together rescued nearly 800 enslaved people during the Combahee River Raid in 1863. Though it was in June, it was Christmas for them!
Mary Had a Baby features Vienna, Dan Furman (Primordial Jazz Funktet) on piano; Michael O’Brien, and Keith Johnston on background vocals and percussion. The cover artwork is by Adjoa Burrowes.
Vienna also released a digital jazz Valentine’s CD, Love to You, with Bruce Edwards (Sun Ra) on guitar. A regular on NYC’s jazz scene, she is accompanied by Edwards or Michael Howell (Dizzy Gillespie).
Other Projects: SHALLOW BROWN: T hessalonia 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 lives in Harlem with her wife Katharine, her garden and window boxes.