Carolyn is a Texas born swing singer, currently based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. She is a member of the Texas Western Swing Hall Of Fame, the Northwest Western Swing Music Society’s Hall of Fame, the Western Swing Society of the Southwest’s Hall of Fame, and the Western Swing Hall of Fame. In 2014, the Cowtown Society of Western Music named Carolyn a “Hero of Western Swing”, and Carolyn has been the recipient of the Academy of Western Artists’ Will Rogers award as the Western Swing Female Vocalist of the Year multiple times.
Carolyn Martin has been described as “an astonishing singer”, “a remarkable voice”, a “singing sensation” and as “one of the finest western swing singers in the business, the dreamy-voiced Carolyn Martin.” The Riders In The Sky’s Ranger Doug says, “I have grown increasingly in awe of Carolyn’s talent: her taste, her musical sensibility, the thoughtfulness and care she brings to every line of every song she sings,” and Vince Gill says simply, “Carolyn Martin is a great swing singer.” From her early days playing Texas dance halls and honky-tonks through 11 years she spent as a member of the Grammy nominated Time Jumpers to her current tours with Carolyn Martin’s Swing Band, Carolyn’s live shows have always aimed to deliver what Ft. Worth Magazine called “a jaw dropping performance.”
Carolyn’s recordings have won accolades, including multiple Western Swing Album of the Year awards. One of Carolyn’s songs, “That’s What I Call Cookin’”, was named as the Western Swing Song of the Year. Each of Carolyn’s last 5 CD’s spent months at the top of Western Way Magazine’s Western Swing Chart.
Carolyn grew up with music in the air. “The stable where I kept my horse had a radio tuned to the local country music station, and in addition to what we now call traditional country, they played a lot of western swing – not just Bob Wills songs, but other artists who played western swing or swing influenced music. At home, my parents listened to big band swing and to pop singers like Frank Sinatra and Rosemary Clooney.”
Carolyn began playing guitar and singing in her teens, and before too long, started playing in public. “My very first job was when my friend Laurie and I started working at a place called “Old Abilene Town”, a tourist attraction out by the interstate. They showed silent movies in the restaurant, and Laurie and I would play in the intermission between the movies.”
Carolyn soon began working with area bands, and a few years later took her own band on the road, playing in nightclubs, dance halls and hotel lounges. “It seemed like every hotel in the country had a band in their lounge; we would play each place for two or three weeks, getting to know the town and the people, then move on to the next town for a two or three weeks. It was a nice way to live for a few years, sightseeing during day and playing every night”.
After relocating to Nashville, Carolyn worked as a freelance singer and guitarist, gradually transitioning from playing in bars to performing at private parties and corporate events – a move that had both advantages and a few downsides. The move allowed Carolyn to sing regularly – and sing a wide variety of music, from traditional country to R&B, but it also meant that there was a certain loss of visibility; ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is certainly true in the music business.
Then, one Monday night in 1999, Carolyn went to hear some friends who were playing with a group called the Time Jumpers. They asked her to sit in with the band and sing a couple of songs. Within a couple of months, Carolyn was invited to become a member of the group. 11 years later, after having been a part of three CD’s, a DVD that has aired on hundreds of Public Television Stations and sharing two Grammy nominations with the other members of the band, she left the Time Jumpers to perform full time with her own group, Carolyn Martin’s Swing Band.
A few years ago, Carolyn and her husband, Dave, relocated from Nashville to Fort Wayne, Indiana, where she continues to perform as a solo artist, as a duo (with her bass playing husband), and with larger groups – both locally and as a touring artist. Carolyn Martin’s Swing Band has performed at festivals as varied as the Montana Folk Festival, the National Cowboy Poetry Gathering in Elko, Nevada, the Lockhart Western Swing and BBQ Festival, and the Sun Valley Jazz Festival. Carolyn’s performances are not limited to western swing; she has performed the music of country music legend Patsy Cline, and has gained a reputation as an interpreter of pop/jazz standards of the 1930s and 40s, singing with her jazz quartet.
“Wild West Texas Wind”, Carolyn’s latest album, features an eclectic mix of cowboy songs, western swing songs, and pop standards, a reflection of the inspiration she draws not only from the classic western swing groups of the 1930s through the 1950s, but also from the big band swing era, Broadway show tunes, folk music, roots music, traditional country, and southern blues.