After more than ten years, my brunch gig at Ryles Jazz Club has come to a close.  However, Bon Voyage Jazz Quartet lives on!  As I write this, we are in the process of recording a new CD.  Stay tuned for more developments.

I had a lovely interview with Rob Hochschild about my book Damn Near White last week.  You can listen to it here:

I am thrilled to be speaking about Mojo for Murder at the Framingham Public Library this Friday, August 4 at noon.  Also speaking will be two of my favorite mystery writers - Susan Oleksiw and Lisa Lieberman.  Please join us!

If you enjoy Black History with a touch of mysticism thrown in, I know you will enjoy my latest YouTube video on the life of Robert T. Browne (1882-1978).  

Carolyn Wilkins and Phil Bryant are at it again!  If you're in the Minneapolis area, please join us at the Word Play festival this weekend!

So excited that Mojo For Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery has been favorably reviewed by Midwest Book Reviews.  Check it out:

Last week Carolyn had a chance to sit down with TV host Jan Lewis to discuss her book Melody For Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery.  Watch this 20 minute video on YouTube at


Join Carolyn Wilkins and the Bon Voyage Jazz Quartet for a Jazz Brunch at Ryles Jazz Club.  The club is located in Inman Square, just steps from Red Line and bus service.  If you're in the Boston area, come and join us! The food is outstanding and the music is swinging.  There's no cover and children are welcome.

Curious about a Day In The Life of Bertie Bigelow, the amateur sleuth in Carolyn's Bertie Bigelow Mystery series?  If you have enjoyed Bertie's escapades in Melody For Murder, you will love following Bertie through a typical day.  Check it out August 23 at

If you are looking for a wonderful alternative worship service in downtown Boston, join Carolyn Wilkins and Willie Sordillo at Old South Church on Boylston Street.  Thursday, July 21 at 6PM.  All are welcome!


Looking for a great place to have Sunday Brunch?  Join Carolyn and the Bon Voyage Jazz Quartet this Sunday at Ryles Jazz Club in Inman Square in Cambridge - 10:30-2:30.  

Carolyn will sit down with TV host Jan Lewis for an episode of "Be My Guest" at 1pm on August 18.  You can catch the broadcast any time after the broadcast at  She'll talk about her current book Melody For Murder and give a preview of what's next!

Join Carolyn on Terry's Place this week!  She'll give you a peek into her typical day, her guilty pleasures and on what she's working on next!.  Visit to check it out!

I'm the featured blogger on Late Last Night Books this month!  Check out my article about the South Side of Chicago and why I write about it here:

Melody For A Murder : a book jazz concert with author/jazz musician Carolyn Wilkins accompanied by her Bon Voyage Jazz Quartet, and special guest, John Voigt. Presented by the Friends of the Charlestown Branch of the Boston Public Library. Thursday, February 25, 7:30pm. Free and open to all, with a reception following. Wheelchair accessible. Charlestown Branch Library, 179 Main Street, Charlestown. For more information:, 617-242-1248.

t's a brand new year! 2016 will be full of opportunities to catch Carolyn in concert.  On Sunday, February 7 at 2PM she will be perform at Saugus Congregational Church to sing, play, and talk about her book They Raised Me Up:A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her.  The church is located at 300 Central Street in Saugus, MA.  For details, visit their website at

Melody For Murder is going on the road! On Saturday, October 3 at 1PM, I'll be speaking and signing books at 57th Street books, 1301 E. 57th Street, Chicago IL  If you are in the Chicago area, please join me!

I will be talking about music, mysteries and mayhem as a guest blogger on these websites this September.  Check it out!

September 22 - Interview with OmniMystery at

September 29 - Guest blog at
Melody is also being reviewed by Ronda Del B @TheStoryLady on September 15.  Check it out on her website

On Thursday August 27th at 10AM ET Carolyn Wilkins will talk about her book Damn Near White: An African American Family's Journey From Slavery To Bittersweet Success on the Maggie Linton Show.  The Maggie Linton Show airs Mon-Fri 10am-noon EST  on Sirius XM Urban View 126. Please feel free to check us out on  (Facebook page,

Carolyn will be joining noted historian Al-Tony Gilmore in a discussion  on Colorism and Passing In American life and culture. 

Please join us!





Recently I got the chance to sit down with Patricia A Murray on TV skywriter and talk about books, music and the South Side of Chicago.  It was a great conversation! If you are interested in checking it out, here's the link:

On Tuesday October 27 at 7PM Carolyn Wilkins will read and sign copies of Melody For Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery at Porter Square Books in the Porter Square Mall.  For more information, visit

On Saturday October 3 at 1PM, Carolyn Wilkins will be reading and signing copies of her book Melody For Murder: A Bertie Bigelow Mystery at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th Street, Chicago IL 60637.  For more info, visit 

Today I sat down with Meg Welch Dendler to talk about my writing process, my characters, my sources of inspiration, and (most of all) about Melody For Murder.  Check it out:

On Tuesday June 2 at 7:30pm my band and I will give a concert in David Friend Recital Hall, 921 Boylston Street Boston, MA (on the campus of Berklee College of Music) to celebrate the publication of my new mystery novel Melody For Murder.  This event is free and open to the public.  If you're in the Boston area, please stop by.

Accompanied by Diane Wernick (sax), Phil Neighbors (drums) and Skip Smith (bass), I'll be singing and playing music that will call to mind the great noir films of the 40s and 50s.  I'll also be reading from the book and signing your copies!

Visit  to pre-order your copy today!


o you like mysteries?  Hear me read from my new suspense story With A Kiss I Die on YouTube:  

Download the full story from this website as my gift to you.  Enjoy!

As you know my last gig with the Bon Voyage Jazz Quartet was cancelled due to snow.  But next Sunday March 15, we will be back at Ryles Jazz Cafe for brunch.  Please come and join us!  We've missed you.


Rapper, author and social activist Chuck D came to Berklee today to participate in our Martin Luther King Celebration.  As always, he was inspiring and provocative.  After he spoke,  I moderated a panel to discuss how to apply Dr. King's message to areas as diverse as gender equity, gay rights, nonviolence and the environment.  It was a stimulating discussion!  You can read more about the event in the Boston Globe at

 Today the Berklee Ensemble Department gave our colleague Paul Elmen a beautiful send-off.  There was blues, there was funk - there was be-bop.  We even had a DJ.  Putting together this memorial concert has given us all something to be proud of. 


If you are in the Boston area, please stop by Ryles Jazz Club in Inman Square and say hello!  I'm there with the fabulous Bon Voyage Jazz Quartet - Phil Neighbors on drums, Skip Smith on bass, Diane Wernick on sax.  We play a jazz brunch on the third Sunday of every month.  I'd love to see you.



Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with artist Linda Clave and talk about my books, my music and my teaching on CCTV.  You can join us by clicking on this link:

I am thrilled to announce that Pen-L Publishing will release my next book in 2015.  It's called Melody For Murder and is set on the South Side of Chicago. 

It's time for our monthly brunch together! Join me and the rest of the Bon Voyage Jazz Quartet at Ryles Jazz Club this Sunday from 10:30-2:30. 

I will be teaching at Berklee's Songwriting Workshop in Los Angeles July 21-27 - Check it out!

On Monday June 30 at 6PM, Carolyn Wilkins will be reading and signing books at the Honan-Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library, (300 Harvard Street in Allston, MA).  Joining her will be Mae Siu-Wai Stroshane and Carmela Cattuti.  It should be a stimulating evening of women's nonfiction writing!  Join us!

Join Carolyn Wilkins and the rest of the Bon Voyage Jazz Quartet for a Father's Day Jazz Brunch at Ryles in Inman Square.  

As always, the music will be swinging, the company stimulating and the food fabulous!


On May 23, Carolyn Wilkins will join her Oberlin classmates in reading at "Hearts Touched By Fire," an afternoon of poetry and prose .

On Wednesday May 7 at 6PM the Honan-Allston Branch of the Boston Public Library will present an interactive multi-media performance featuring visual artist Linda Clave and jazz pianist Carolyn Wilkins.  Using excerpts from Carolyn Wilkins’ book They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her as a starting point, the two women will create together an original composition using sound, spoken word and visual art. 


On Thursday, April 24 at 4PM Carolyn Wilkins will be Joan Cartwright's Music Women Radio.  Join us at



At 3pm today Carolyn Wilkins will speak about They Raised Me Up at Professor Kathryn Libin's class on Women Making Music.

The lecture takes place in Skinner Hall on the Vassar Campus.

I'll be talking about my book today at the Vassar College Alumnae House,  129 College Ave in Poughkeepsie, NY.  The talk begins at 5PM.  Join me!

Carolyn will be joining author and Ensemble Department colleague Rebecca Cline at the next meeting of the Berklee Women's Collective.  She'll be talking about They Raised Me Up with Professor Karen Wacks.  She'll also be signing copies of the book.  It's a proud moment for Carolyn, who remembers what it was like to be the only black female teaching in the entire Performance Division.

The meeting is from 1-2PM on Friday, April 11 in the William Davis Room.  


Join Carolyn for brunch at Ryles Jazz Club this Sunday!  She'll be performing with the Bon Voyage Jazz Quartet from 10:30-2:30.


I am honored to have been featured in the February issue of my union paper, the Advocate.  Go to to read the whole article.  I'm on page 8.

Join Carolyn Wilkins and Florence Ladd at Porter Square Books, 25 White Street in Cambridge MA  tonight at 7PM!

Carolyn will be talking about and signing copies of her new book They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her in the Hastings Room at First Church in Cambridge - 11 Garden Street, Cambridge, MA 02140.  For more information, call (617)547-2724.

On Thursday February 20, Carolyn will join a big band on the stage of the Berklee Performance center to play a concert in honor of Sun Ra's 100th birthday.


For Immediate Release:


Meet the Author and Book Launch

They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her

by Carolyn Marie Wilkins


Saturday February 8 at 3PM

57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th Street Chicago IL 60637



Contact:  Rui Carlos da Cunha

                (773) 684-1300


"An intriguing and beautifully rendered look at a group of women that is often overlooked.”

-Diane Harriford, Professor of Sociology, Africana Studies and Women's Studies, Vassar College


They Raised Me Up is the story of single mother Carolyn Wilkins’ battle to succeed in the man’s world of jam sessions and jazz clubs, and of the five musically gifted black women who inspired her. In sync with the release, Wilkins will be signing books and reading excerpts from They Raised Me Up at 57th Street Books, 1301 E. 57th St. Chicago, IL 60637 – (773) 684-1300.


For additional information visit:


Wilkins alternates her own story with those of her ancestors’ struggles to realize their own dreams: Phillipa Schuyler, whose efforts to “pass” for white inspired Carolyn to embrace her own black identity; Marjory Jackson, the musician and single mother whose dark complexion and flamboyant lifestyle always raised eyebrows; Lilly Pruett, the stunningly beautiful daughter of an illiterate sharecropper; and Ruth Lipscomb, the country girl who realized her dream of becoming a concert pianist.


They Raised Me Up interweaves memoir with family history to create an entertaining, informative, and engrossing read that will appeal to anyone with an interest in African American or women’s history or to readers simply looking for an intriguing story about music and family.


About the Author: Carolyn Marie Wilkins is a Professor at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She has toured South America as a Jazz Ambassador for the U.S. State Department, performed on radio and television with her group SpiritJazz, and worked as a percussionist for the Pittsburgh and Singapore symphonies. She has released several critically acclaimed CDs of her original compositions and is the author of Tips for Singers: Performing, Auditioning, and Rehearsing (Berklee Press) and Damn Near White: An African American Family’s Rise from Slavery to Bittersweet Success (University of Missouri Press).


For full bio and additional info:



Join Carolyn and Monique Byrnes at St. Paul's Episcopal Church, 39 E Central St in Natick Center for a dynamic jazz worship service.  February 2 at 9:30 AM  For more information, call  (508) 655-5880

Carolyn will be talking about her new book They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her at 7PM on Thursday, February 27 at Porter Square Books, 25 White Street, Cambridge, MA 02140.  For more information, call:  (617) 491-2220

Carolyn's event at the Berklee Bookstore (1090 Boylston St, Boston, MA) is only three weeks away! It's Thursday January 30 at 7PM. Be sure to stop by and say hello.

Check out Carolyn's interview on the Tavis Smiley network with Arts Culture Commentary host Bill Banfield! In this 25 minute broadcast, she talks about the remarkable women that inspired her to write her new book They Raised Me Up. To download this podcast, go to

Carolyn has a new Facebook page! Friend me at:

I've made a short clip about my new book They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother and the Women Who Inspired Her. Paste this address into your browser to check it out:

At long last the sequel to Carolyn's memoir Damn Near White is coming out on the University of Missouri Press! It's called They Raised Me Up: A Black Single Mother And The Women Who Inspired Her. Go to my products page to order your advance copy NOW!

This time Carolyn's in Bogota, Colombia to perform and teach a workshop. She is auditioning talented students who want to come to Berklee College of Music. A fantastic experience - so many new friends!
Carolyn began the new year with a trip to Ankhara Turkey where she gave a clinic and auditioned new students for Berklee. An amazing experience!
Carolyn's on the road again, this time auditioning students for Berklee College of Music! While there she got a chance to check out some amazing new talent.
Carolyn has been traveling around the country promoting her new book Damn Near White: An African American Family's Rise from Slavery to Bittersweet Success. After a well attended reading at Porter Square Books in Cambridge in February, Carolyn traveled to Chicago where she read at 57th Street Books and at St. Mark Church. Recently, Carolyn appeared in concert at Long Hall in Farmington MO where she performed to raise money for the Farmington Association for the Preservation of the African American Masonic Cemetery. She also read from Damn Near White and was interviewed on KREI radio.
‘Damn Near White’ explores writer’s family history and her th... Exploration of race blends memoir with family history By Steve Weinberg November 11, 2010 Carolyn Marie Wilkins is a professor at Boston’s Berklee College of Music and a performing jazz musician. One of her brothers, David, is a Harvard University Law School professor, and other family members have graduated from Harvard Law. But her ancestral roots exist far from Boston. When she began to research those roots, she found lots of surprises. Truly intelligent human beings understand that race is a social construct. Yet in our society, even after the election of an African-American president, skin color matters. Growing up among Chicago’s light-skinned African-American elite, Wilkins realized later that she possessed only a limited idea of what it meant to identify as black when she could have passed as white. Referring to her intellectual achievements, her fair skin, and her race, Wilkins adopted this rhyme for herself: “Light and bright perhaps, but definitely not white.’’ In her book — part memoir, part essay on race relations, part dual biography of her paternal great- grandfather and grandfather — Wilkins wrestles with her light-skinned identity, perhaps amplified by her marriage to a Caucasian male. In high school and at college during a black power era, she tried to rethink the meaning of race when challenged by blacks and whites alike. “Some of the other black students accused me of ‘talking like a white girl.’ After this incident, I carefully developed two separate vocabularies, one for dealing with white teachers and schoolmates and another that (hopefully) would enable me to be ‘down with the brothers.’ ’’ At college, Wilkins found herself ignored by black students “until they figured out that despite my light skin, I was indeed one of them.’’ Wilkins decided that calculating who she was meant looking beyond her parents — her mother, with a master’s degree in musicology; her father, a lawyer — to great-grandfather John Bird Wilkins and, more so, her grandfather J. Ernest Wilkins. Born into slavery, John Bird Wilkins became educated enough to shake up the Baptist church as a renegade minister, write and edit for a newspaper, invent original devices, and find time to practice bigamy as the patriarch of two families. One of his sons ended up as a national newsmaker and the primary target of Carolyn Wilkins’s intense curiosity. J. Ernest Wilkins, born in 1894 in Farmington, Mo., broke barriers to enter the University of Illinois, served in World War I, graduated from University of Chicago Law School, and eventually earned the attention of President Eisenhower, who appointed him assistant secretary of labor in Washington, D.C. No African-American had previously served that high in the Labor Department. As Carolyn Wilkins researched her grandfather’s Labor Department accomplishments, she became obsessed about learning why he was dismissed from the post while Eisenhower still served as president. Was racial prejudice to blame? Providing the answer in this review would constitute a spoiler. But J. Ernest Wilkins did not fade away. Appointed to the original federal Civil Rights Commission, he continued working on behalf of equity for all Americans until his death in 1959. Carolyn Wilkins’s interesting and inspirational quest, which began with a box of family scrapbooks, transformed her into an archive detective with a passion for genealogy. Maybe other readers will follow her path to learn more about who and why they are. Steve Weinberg can be reached through his website at © Copyright 2010 Globe Newspaper Company.
Carolyn talks about the inspiration behind her latest book Damn Near White on YouTube: Check it out!
Carolyn Wilkins grew up defending her racial identity. Because of her light complexion and wavy hair, she spent years struggling to convince others that she was black. Her family’s prominence set Carolyn’s experiences even further apart from those of the average African American. Her father and uncle were well-known lawyers who had graduated from Harvard Law School. Another uncle had been a child prodigy and protégé of Albert Einstein. And her grandfather had been America's first black assistant secretary of labor. Carolyn's parents insisted she follow the color-conscious rituals of Chicago's elite black bourgeoisie—experiences Carolyn recalls as some of the most miserable of her entire life. Only in the company of her mischievous Aunt Marjory, a woman who refused to let the conventions of “proper” black society limit her, does Carolyn feel a true connection to her family's African American heritage. When Aunt Marjory passes away, Carolyn inherits ten bulging scrapbooks filled with family history and memories. What she finds in these photo albums inspires her to discover the truth about her ancestors—a quest that will eventually involve years of research, thousands of miles of travel, and much soul-searching. Carolyn learns that her great-grandfather John Bird Wilkins was born into slavery and went on to become a teacher, inventor, newspaperman, renegade Baptist minister, and a bigamist who abandoned five children. And when she discovers that her grandfather J. Ernest Wilkins may have been forced to resign from his labor department post by members of the Eisenhower administration, Carolyn must confront the bittersweet fruits of her family's generations-long quest for status and approval. Damn Near White is an insider’s portrait of an unusual American family. Readers will be drawn into Carolyn’s journey as she struggles to redefine herself in light of the long-buried secrets she uncovers. Tackling issues of class, color, and caste, Wilkins reflects on the changes of African American life in U.S. history through her dedicated search to discover her family’s powerful story.

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