Vienna learned music from the Black Ladies of her youth, including her fearsome great grandmother who played guitar to country singer Minnie Pearl on Saturday night radio but only proper Pentecostal chords in church on Sunday. Vienna also sang in the choir at her family’s AME church, and attended her godmother’s Baptist 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.
Artist in Residence – The Civil War Series
Vienna provided local context to the Red Grooms and Hudson River Museum Civil War exhibits by unearthing, researching and sharing a rare glimpse into the history of a Westchester African American community called the Hills, and its contribution to the Civil War effort. She and her art partner, Keith Johnston, created and performed original content at monthly family-friendly gallery shows for the 9-month tenure of the exhibit as well as programming for teachers, docents, seniors and school children. The Greater Hudson Heritage Network recently gave the Hudson River Museum the Award for Excellence in Civil War Focused Public Programs…we are so proud!
Harlem Field Recordings
Vienna is completing her latest CD “Harlem Field Recordings 2017” which grew out of her project “Folk First: Black Roots Music” celebrating early Black music and its influence on the music of today. Vienna draws unexpected folkloric connections with contemporary artists like Biggie Smalls, Pharrell Williams, and the NYC subway candy men, noting specific historical moments in African American history.
Folk First: Black Roots Music
“Folk First” debuted at the Harlem Arts Festival and at NYC’s Living Room, the Kickin’ Country Music Festival, the Newark Museum, The Cooperage, RiverCulture and other venues including libraries and school settings. Vienna has worked with such musicians as: Bass Player Stanley Banks (George Benson); fiddle player Henrique Prince, founder of the Ebony Hillbillies, one of the last Black string bands in the US; internationally renowned drummer and washboardist, Newman Taylor Baker; Charles Burnham; Hilliard Greene; Nioka Workman; Leon Thomas; Olu Dara; and Keith Johnston.
Singin Wid A Sword In Ma Han
Vienna wrote and starred in Singin Wid A Sword In Ma Han, a musical docudrama about a family escaping slavery, which features rare spirituals and won the International NYC Fringe Festival’s Audience Favorite Award. Singin’s other venues include the Goodrich Underground Railroad Museum, Harlem’s Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Newark Museum, Medgar Evers College CUNY and the West Harlem Library Series. She also produced a CD of spirituals with Newman Taylor Baker and performed selections at the Schomburg’s Emancipation Proclamation event.
Juneteenth Underground Railroad Festival
Vienna conceived of and produced the First Annual NYC Underground Railroad Festival Juneteenth Celebration. With the assistance of the Brooklyn Borough President’s office, she partnered with The Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims, a nationally certified Underground Railroad site; the Brooklyn Historical Society; the Weeksville Heritage Society; and the American Theatre of Harlem. The sold-out Festival was recorded and broadcast by WBGO-FM, the tri-state area’s premier jazz station.
Vienna Carroll Jazz delivers an eclectic mix of jazz standards, blues, and jazzy versions of country & western, pop and other favorite songs. She is a regular at public venues throughout NYC and for private events, accompanied by Dizzy Gillespie’s Michael Howell or Sun Ra’s Bruce Edwards on guitar.
Vienna received accolades for her performance in the critically acclaimed “3/Fifths.” She has appeared in theater, the video series “Black Folk Don’t,” and in television, commercials and film.
Vienna is writing a show, “Shallow Brown,” about Black sailors up through the Civil War. The sea shanty Shallow Brown is a song by and about a Jamaican slave sold off to a Yankee ship owner, who is jumping ship to find a better life. Shallow Brown will share the under told story of the critical impact of Black sailors on antebellum maritime economy and on the lives of the Black community of which they were a part. It will uncover the part Black sailors played in the freedom stories of antebellum African Americans. Come prepared to sing along!
Vienna’s Herbal Compounds produces a boutique line of organic and all-natural body care products. Vienna has led “Let’s Make Dandelion Wine” and other herbal walks, and taught aromatherapy and herbal classes at the NY Open Center and throughout NYC and the tri-state area.
GHHN Award for Excellence in Civil War Focused Public Programs as Artist in Residence, Hudson River Museum, Yonkers
Garner-Glaser Foundation grant
Ragdale Artist Residency, IL
Virginia Center for Creative Arts Artist Residency, VA
Djerassi Artist Residency (alt), CA
West Harlem Development Corporation
Theatermania Audience Favorite Award, NYC International Fringe Festival
Harlem Art Alliance grants (2)
The Field Artist Residency, Berkshires
Brooklyn Arts Council grant
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council grant
Puffin Foundation grants (2)
Turners Falls RiverCulture
The Cooperage Project
Kickin Country Music Festival
The Living Room
Mt Vernon Public Library
West Harlem Libraries
The Players Theater
Oheb Shalom Congregation
Flatbush-Tompkins Congregational Church
Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture
Hudson River Museum
Dance New Amsterdam
Brooklyn Ethical Society
Medgar Evers Theater, CUNY
Goodridge Freedom House and Underground Railroad Museum
1st NYC Underground Railroad Festival