Jazz Vocalist Synia Carroll Releases New Album “Water Is My Song” | LISTEN!


Featuring Saxophonist Houston Person
Coming May 17th on Clarion Jazz

Stories enable us to share values and help us understand and connect with other people. For vocalist, poet, teacher, and professional storyteller SYNIA (si-nay-a) CARROLL, the ocean itself is rife with metaphors about our lives if we listen carefully enough. On her newest album, WATER IS MY SONG, she brings together a mélange of songs that are off the beaten path but are mostly connected to or inspired by water and the “story and melody within every hue and motion of the waves and currents that carry us,” as Carroll states in her album notes. This is Carroll’s second CD release and follows Here’s to You (2016).

Joining Carroll on WATER IS MY SONG are JOHN Di MARTINO (piano), KENNY DAVIS (bass), JEROME JENNINGS (drums), CAFE (percussion), WILL GALISON (harmonica), AARON HEICK (reeds), BEATRIZ HERNANDEZ (background vocals), WESLEY LIMA De AMORIM (guitar), DAVID OQUENDO (vocals & chants), and HOUSTON PERSON (tenor sax).

Born and raised in North Philadelphia, Carroll’s path through life has taken a variety of interesting turns, which has been undoubtably important for her personal and spiritual growth. Even though she clearly had an affinity for the arts at a very young age, her parents encouraged her to find a more stable career, which lead her to graduate from Wesleyan University in Connecticut with a degree in Spanish Education. Music continued to have a prominent role throughout college and her subsequent career as a teacher, where she was able to use her gifts as a musician, storyteller, and theater artist.

After graduating, Carroll moved to New York City where she joined the World Beat group, Mikata. Performing all original music with a distinctive emphasis on an Afro-Latino and Caribbean feel, the group found an appreciable level of success, performing regularly at the Sounds Of Brazil (SoB’s). Her time with the group led to other singing opportunities, including calls from Soca artists to do back up work. She performed as a background singer in Columbia with Lord Nelson and wrote and performed several of her original songs with the group.

After several years in New York, she moved back to Connecticut to attend the University of New Haven, where she received a master’s degree in education. After working as a teacher at an arts-oriented middle school for several years, she moved to Sarasota, Florida, and began hanging out at jam sessions. Carroll soon blossomed into a jazz vocalist, singing in small clubs and cafes, and becoming a regular on the South Florida jazz scene.

She earned a reputation as a “rising star“ in the Suncoast area, performing at the Sarasota Jazz Festival, the Suncoast Jazz Festival, and the St. Petersburg Jazz Festival. She is a frequent guest of the Al Downing Tampa Bay Jazz Association, and she received the “Maestro” award for her autobiographical show Finding Sassy at the 2019 Sarasota Festival. Her tribute to Nina Simone at the Palladium Theater in St. Petersburg was a sellout.

Carroll’s voice has a light, lyrical character with great intonation and diction that is clear as a bell. Her experience as a storyteller captivates audiences at her live jazz performances and imbues her singing with depth and nuance. Carroll fully captures these appealing attributes on WATER IS MY SONG. She derived the title for the album from a poem called “Holy Water” by Mona Hagmagid, a young Sudanese and Afro-American woman from Northern Virginia.

Carroll opens the album with a swinging version of “Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea,” featuring the esteemed tenor saxophonist Houston Person. Carroll co-wrote “Child of the Times” with pianist Jane Getz. The song blends jazz with a folk sensibility. Carroll reconnects with her heritage on the traditional, Afro-American spiritual, “Wade in the Water.” She dedicates the song to her son and daughter, and to her late, beloved sister. She begins the song reciting a poem she wrote in which she says, “Rhythmic ebb and flow reveal again / Who I am and have always been.” Carroll’s silken voice shines on “How Deep is the Ocean,” which she sings as a duet with Davis on bass.

“Learning How to Fly” is a Latin-inflected song written by vocalist Patty Cathcart Andress of Tuck and Patty fame. Carroll played the song, which is about letting go of your fears, for a dying friend who found great comfort in its message. Carroll loves the Afro-Cuban sensibility and arranged “Afro Blue” with background vocals and chants by Hernandez and Oquendo. “Alfonsina Y El Mar” was composed by Argentine pianist Ariel Ramírez and written by Argentine writer Félix Luna. It was first released as part of Mercedes Sosa’s 1969 album Mujeres Argentinas. The song is a tribute to Argentine poet Alfonsina Storni, who committed suicide in 1938 by jumping into the sea rather than dying slowly from the breast cancer that ravaged her body. Carroll has always been a big fan of the Beatles, learning to play their music on guitar when she was very young. She performs a moody version of their song “Norwegian Wood.”

Carroll sings a bluesy version of “Willow Weep for Me,” featuring Houston Person. She closes the album with “The Water is Wide,” a traditional Scottish folk song which Carroll transforms into an soulful, even 8ths tune jazz tune featuring Galison’s soulful harmonica.

For Synia Carroll, the heart of a song is the story it tells. She approaches lyrics like an actor creating a fully realized persona. Her voice is satiny, and with top musicians like Di Martino and Person, WATER IS MY SONG is an eminently satisfying album for fans of superb vocal jazz.

WATER IS MY SONG will be released on May 17, 2024 on Clarion Jazz, available at Bandcamp and on all streaming platforms.

Mouthpiece Music

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