Before there was jazz or blues or gospel, there was Black folk music, the foundation of American music today.
Folk First: Black Roots Music celebrates early African American music – Spirituals, Work songs, Prison blues – and the often overlooked contributions of women to it. These are songs from a time when you had to make music to hear it.
Spirituals can come from your Granny’s country church down South (or the little church you pass by right in your neighborhood).
Work songs came from the fields; to the fruit and vegetable man who came to the neighborhood every Thursday; to nowadays workers such as the young boys selling candy on the subway.
Prison blues songs helped our ancestors endure prison.
Some spirituals and work songs were also Songs of Joy.
more ideas for gallery/slideshows?
Example of Current Work Song (Patter? Rap at end?)
Current Work Song “The NYC Subway Candy Man” Performed by Vienna Carroll (vocals) and Keith Johnston (guitar and vocals).
And these songs are still with us. There is a direct rhythm, lyric and tonal through-line from the roots music of the ancestors to the music of contemporary artists like Biggie Smalls,
Vienna and Folk First share that relationship and groove, with you.
Folk First: Black Roots Music
Folk First which features Vienna on vocals and a peerless old time string band of guitar, violin, bass and washboard was a stunning success at its Harlem Arts Festival debut, 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: 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.
Vienna Carroll is a singer, playwright, actor, historian and herbalist. She learned music from the Black Ladies of her youth, including her fearsome great grandmother who played guitar to country & western singer Minnie Pearl on Saturday night radio and only proper Pentecostal chords in church on Sunday. Ms Carroll formalized her cultural studies with a BA in African American Studies from Yale University.