Featuring Vienna Carroll and Keith Johnston
Great Falls Harvest Restaurant, 50 3rd Street
Wednesday, February 10, 7pm-9pm
$5-$10 Suggested donation (includes appetizers)
Part of Black History Month/Music and Diversity II
“Before there was jazz or blues or gospel, there was Black folk music, the foundation of American music today. Come enjoy songs from a time when you had to make music to hear it. Songs from your Granny’s country church down South (or the little church you pass by right here in Harlem); songs from the vegetable man every Thursday; songs that helped our ancestors endure prison and escape slavery; songs of joy. Let’s make those connections to today. Enjoy, join in, sing and dance with us.”- Vienna Carroll
Folk First: Black Roots Music featuring Vienna Carroll (vocals) and Keith Johnston (guitar) presents early African American spirituals, work songs, and prison songs and explores their direct relationships to the music of contemporary artists.
Negro Spirituals, used to express one’s deepest feelings of the heart, are less well known to have served as warning and escape songs. We tell a story of escape using the Spiritual “Singin Wid A Sword In Ma Han” and mix in the modern spiritual “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
Traditional Work Songs kept the rhythm during repetitive, monotonous labor or announced one’s wares or services. “Strawberries and Glory” links the work song of Davy, a real Underground Railroad conductor/fruit seller to the patter of young men selling candy on the subways in NYC.
Prison Blues spoke about injustice, despair and bravado; they share lyrical purpose and rhythm with modern gangsta rap. “Parchman Prison Blues Medley” interweaves tunes from the Women’s Penitentiary of Parchman, MS with verse from Hip hop icon Biggie Smalls.”
More about Vienna Carroll:
Vienna Carroll is a singer, playwright, actor, historian, and herbalist. “My music and stories challenge deeply held stereotypes of enslaved African Americans and explore how we freed ourselves. I recount history and sing about family, love, and resistance via early African American folk music with an old-time band of washboard, guitar, fiddle and bass. We present songs, lyrics and rhythms that show the direct relationships with popular / rap music of today. Audiences, encouraged by our unique perspective and very fine groove, enthusiastically sing along.
The Black church in which I was raised is the cornerstone of my musical creativity. I formalized my study of early African American music and culture at Yale University where I received a BA in African American Studies. Together, my childhood years in the church and my formal education serve as the foundation for my mission to shine a light on the complex truth of African American life in the antebellum era. I am delighted to be part of a vanguard that is revealing the self-determination of the African American during slavery, and the manifestations of that spirit in today’s world.” more on her website.
More About Keith Johnston:
Keith Johnston is musical director for this project and Ms Carroll’s partner in art. Keith is the Artistic Director of the American Theatre of Harlem withmore than 20 years experience as an art educator and in community arts program development. He is currently a Program Director for the CUNY Creative Arts Team.