The late Sam Parkins used to say of certain powerfully emotional music, “Gets you right in the gizzard, doesn’t it?” We all have our personal collections of Gizzard Music. To them, I would like to add SWING LOW, SWEET CHARIOT, as performed by singer Vienna Carroll and the Folk.
A friend sent me this recording and I was enthralled. So many recordings are over-produced, tinkered with, electronically fussed-over, that their essence is obliterated. Not this utterance — deep, unaltered, aimed directly at the listener.
“Swing Low Sweet Chariot” is Vienna Carroll & The Folk’s new single from their upcoming CD, Harlem: Afro Future Roots, a special collection of Spirituals honoring 31 enslaved Africans headed from Baltimore to certain Deep South death in 1826. Instead, they took their future in their own hands, threw their captors overboard, and escaped to freedom.
Vienna is joined by her “groovetastic” band, The Folk: Stanley Banks (George Benson) on bass; Washboard XT/Newman Taylor Baker (Matthew Shipp, Ebony Hillbillies, Henry Grimes) on washboard; and Keith Johnston (Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam, Jon Hendricks) on guitar.
“We freed ourselves from slavery. We are the center of our own freedom stories. The Spirituals are our liberation songs,” says Carroll.
Now, hear the music: haunting, compelling here.
Keith and Vienna created this passionate sound during the award-winning run of “Singin Wid A Sword In MaHan,” Vienna’s musical docudrama about a family escaping slavery. This was followed by Vienna’s first album of the same name, a reprise of Spirituals from the play, in collaboration with Washboard XT. The CD Harlem Field Recordings, recorded with the Folk and released in 2020, celebrates early Black music and its influence on the music of today.
“Swing Low Sweet Chariot,” to be released on Friday, February 10, 2023, will be available on viennacarrollmusic.com, Spotify, Bandcamp, and Apple Music.
For more information visit www.viennacarrollmusic.com.
Vienna Carroll and the Folk will be at the Metropolitan Museum of Art NYC, to celebrate the Met’s Seneca Village exhibit with their Afro-Future Roots music on February 24 and 25th, 6-8:30pm, Petrie Court Cafe.
May your happiness increase!