Faye Carol

Blues Music

Faye Carol was born in Meridian, Mississippi. Blues has been the soundtrack to her childhood, becoming intimately connected with the music as a young girl in the train stations of 1950s segregated Mississippi and through her mother and uncles’ Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland and B.B. King records. She began to study the Blues while auditing music courses that were taught by her late husband at UC Berkeley. Through her studies and experiences working with passionate and talented blues musicians, Faye has been able to master the blues and pass along this vital tradition to the next generation of artists in her community.

Blues is the traditional cultural expression of Black people in America.  The art form originated in the post-slavery South with roots in work songs, spirituals, field hollers, and shouts. Formalized by W.C. Handy around the turn of the century, it is characterized by a three-chord harmonic structure and a 12 bar format, though other forms are also prevalent. During the 20th century the blues spread across the country, developing into regional styles in Chicago, California, Kansas City, and New Orleans. The art form is exemplified by instrumentalists and singers alike including such notable practitioners as B.B. King, Professor Longhair, Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, Koko Taylor, Robert Johnson, and Muddy Waters. Faye describes Blues as a language, feeling, form, and a carrier of the history of a people including stories of joy, romance, sorrow, and protest.

“The blues is the music of my culture. It is the music with which I have made the entirety of my living, as a singer, performer, and educator for over 55 years.” – Faye Carol

Apprenticeship Program



Faye Carol will be working with James Wiley in learning and covering a thorough study of the blues.  They are both members of the Bay Area’s (specifically Oakland/Berkeley) Black musical community and have a strong family association as Carol served as a mentor to Wiley’s brother Howard Wiley, now a professional saxophonist, drummer, bandleader, recording artist, and educator. Through her mentorship of Howard Wiley, has known James Wiley and observed his musical development since his early childhood. Through these associations, the mentor and apprentice share a common heritage, occupation, and cultural community.

Together, they will cover blues history; the role of the bass in a blues ensemble; producing a strong blues sound from the bass; stylistic nuances of regional styles from Mississippi, Chicago, Kansas City, Oakland, Texas, and New Orleans; rhythms and forms, improvisation and soloing techniques; bass-lines and ostinatos; stylistic variations from diverse time periods including traditional rural blues and city blues; information and repertoire from prominent blues practitioners including Willie Dixon, Dinah Washington, Ma Rainey, Koko Taylor, and Little Willie John; and application of blues techniques to popular music. Over the course of the apprenticeship, Faye will prepare James to present “The Many Grooves of the Blues,” a 60 minute set of music demonstrating the repertoire and techniques studied.

Living Cultures Grants Program


Faye Carol will present an encore performance of “Blues, Baroque, & Bars” on a major Bay Area stage in 2024, to an audience of at least 1000. This is a dynamic 2-hour multidisciplinary work reimagining traditional blues pieces to tell the story of Black America in transit from the shores of Africa to the plantations of the American South to the Great Migration, to the present day.

Faye Carol_by Kito Kamili


Faye Carol | (510) 848-4750 | fayecarolbiz@gmail.com | www.fayecarol.com

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