Influencers Then and Now: Women Make a Way Outta No Way

Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 7 - 8:30pm

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Vienna Carroll and The Folk

Vienna Carroll and The Folk

Vienna Carroll and The Folk—whose soulful Afro-Future Roots music presents African American spirituals, work songs, and the blues through a modern lens—perform a special program honoring ordinary and extraordinary women, such as Harriet Tubman, Clara Lemlich, Big Mama Thornton, and Audre Lorde, in celebration of International Women’s Day.

Visitors must show security proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test by a third party (not home test) within three days of their visit to campus or a negative rapid test result taken by a third party (not home test) on the day of the visit to campus.

A griot who mixes song, storytelling, and history, Carroll’s sound takes you back to her roots in the Black church while her message examines American history and questions from whose perspective that history is told. Her stirring and powerful performances invite audiences to sing along in the African call and response tradition, adding emotional resonance to stories shared.

Her band, The Folk, features Stanley Banks (George Benson, Esther Phillips) on bass; Washboard XT/Newman Taylor Baker (Matthew Shipp, Ebony Hillbillies, Henry Grimes) on washboard; and Keith Johnston (Jon Hendricks, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam) on guitar. Their latest album, 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.

Carroll formalized her musical studies at Yale University with a B.A. in African American Studies and served as an artist-in-residence at the Hudson River Museum. She also received an Audience Favorite Award from the NY International Fringe Festival for “Singin Wid A Sword In Ma Han,” a musical docudrama she wrote and starred in, about a family escaping slavery. She conceived of and produced the First Annual NYC Underground Railroad Festival Juneteenth Celebration with the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrim, a nationally certified Underground Railroad site and the Brooklyn Historical Society, which was broadcast by WBGO, NYC’s premiere jazz station.

This performance is presented by The Cooper Union Black Student Union, Student Affairs, and Public Programs.

Located in the Frederick P. Rose Auditorium, at 41 Cooper Square (on Third Avenue between 6th and 7th Streets)

  • Founded by inventor, industrialist and philanthropist Peter Cooper in 1859, The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art offers education in art, architecture and engineering, as well as courses in the humanities and social sciences.

  • “My feelings, my desires, my hopes, embrace humanity throughout the world,” Peter Cooper proclaimed in a speech in 1853. He looked forward to a time when, “knowledge shall cover the earth as waters cover the great deep.”

  • From its beginnings, Cooper Union was a unique institution, dedicated to founder Peter Cooper's proposition that education is the key not only to personal prosperity but to civic virtue and harmony.

  • Peter Cooper wanted his graduates to acquire the technical mastery and entrepreneurial skills, enrich their intellects and spark their creativity, and develop a sense of social justice that would translate into action.