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Blues-rocker Carolyn Wonderland is a singer/songwriter/pianist/ trumpeter/guitarist from Texas. She began performing solo as a teen and then later with her band the Imperial Monkeys. While firmly entrenched in blues-rock, Wonderland and her group sport a diverse range of other influences, from country to zydeco to surf to Latin to boogie, and even jazz. The group has performed and toured with such similarly minded predecessors as B.B. King, Johnny Winter, Buddy Guy, the Allman Brothers, Delbert McClinton, and Buddy Miles.
Before relocating from her hometown of Houston to Austin, TX, Wonderland picked up a slew of awards in the Houston press, including best female vocalist seven out of eight years running. Wonderland, whose powerful voice garners frequent comparisons to Janis Joplin, was first inspired to get on the stage after seeing local outfit Little Screamin' Kenny & the Sideliners at the Houston club Fitzgerald's. Wonderland released her debut, Play With Matches, on the independent Big Mo label in 1995. In subsequent years, she continued to release albums and tour the U.S., leading the Imperial Monkeys through several incarnations.
Carolyn Wonderland (born Carolyn Bradford 1972, Houston, Texas) is an American blues singer, songwriter and musician. She is married to A. Whitney Brown.
Wonderland dropped out of Houston's Langham Creek High School to pursue her music ambitions. In 1999, Wonderland moved to Austin, Texas; in 2001, she lost her apartment lease after her landlord became ill, and decided to live out of her van since she was spending more than 300 days a year on the road performing.
Wonderland's instrumental abilities include guitar, slide guitar, mandolin, trumpet and piano. Although primarily a blues artist, Wonderland likes to incorporate elements of country, swing, zydeco, surf, gospel, soul, and cumbia into her musical mix. She usually performs with Cole El-Saleh on keyboards and Robert Michael Hooper on drums.
In February 2008, Wonderland released the CD "Miss Understood" on the Bismeaux Productions label, and the title song has been on the Top 50 of the 'Roots Music Report' chart since the album's release. Fans of Wonderland's music include Bob Dylan, and Ray Benson, founder of Asleep at the Wheel. Benson produced Miss Understood, and has been one of her songwriting collaborators. Wonderland credits several blues and Texas musicians as influences on her music. One notable influence is Austin singer/songwriter Terri Hendrix, as Wonderland covered two Hendrix songs, ("I Found the Lions" and "Throw My Love"), on Miss Understood.
Wonderland has been involved in a number of recordings, including several that were self-produced on independent labels. She was the lead singer fronting the band Imperial Monkeys. Wonderland released Bloodless Revolution in 2008, and is the primary singer on the Jerry Lightfoot's Band of Wonder Texistentialism CD with Lightfoot and Vince Welnick (Grateful Dead, Tubes.) Wonderland was a founding member of the Loose Affiliation of Saints and Sinners (with Papa Mali, Eldridge Goins, Guy Forsyth, and others), with several of her songs being featured on their Sessions from the Hotel San Jose Rm. 50 CD. She was also the lead guitarist in the all-girl, southern rock band Sis DeVille (other members include Shelley King, Sarah Brown, Lisa Pankratz and Floramay Holliday), and a founding member of the Austin Volunteer Orchestra.
Wonderland appeared on Austin City Limits in 2008, and has had her music used on NBC's Homicide and Fox's Time of Your Life. She was a headlining artist at the annual Rochester International Jazz Festival summer 2009 at the Eastman Theatre and New York. In 2003, Wonderland opened the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, after performing there for the previous ten years, singing the National Anthem with 'The Imperial Monkeys'.
Wonderland also performs with the Imperial Golden Crown Harmonizers, raising money for local Austin charities, food banks, soup kitchens, homeless shelters, and on behalf of the legalization of marijuana.
Wonderland married writer-comedian A. Whitney Brown on March 4, 2011, in a ceremony officiated by Michael Nesmith.
Wonderland has won the following awards:Best Female Vocalist - 2012 Austin Music AwardsBest Female Vocalist - 2009 Austin Music AwardsBest Blues Band - 2009 Austin Music AwardsBest Female Vocalist - 2000 Houston Press Music AwardsGold Award - Flagstaff International Film Festival - Music Video Awards - Alan Ames &Assoc. "Party on Houston" featured artist 'Carolyn Wonderland'Best Blues Songwriter of the Year - 1999 Houston Press Music AwardsLocal Musician of the Year & song of the Year ("Blue Lights") - 1998 Houston Press Music AwardsBest Rock/Pop Album of the Year ("Bursting With Flavor ") and Local Musician of the Year and Best Female Vocalist - 1997 Houston Press Music AwardsBest Blues Band - 1996 Public News Music Awards