Born in 1979, in Philadelphia, PA; children: one son, Jordan. Addresses: Record company--Columbia Records, c/o Sony BMG, 550 Madison Ave., New York, NY 10022. Website--Vivian Green Official Website: http://www.viviangreen.com.
A multi-talented artist with a petite frame and a big voice with an extraordinary range, Vivian Green was brought up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her involvement in music seemed to be destined from childhood. As a child, her mother would sing all kinds of music to her, exposing her to different styles and techniques. She taught her songs to help remember things, such as her address and how to spell her name. A snappy song to memorize the books of the Bible got her recognized at the age of five when she sang it for her church. She began playing the piano at the age of eight, and was writing songs by age eleven. Two years later she joined an all-female quintet called Yonique. "We performed some of my early material," she stated in a biography from an old version of her website re-printed on the Sing365.com website. "We were not very good. But we had fun." She gained enough attention to be offered a deal from Ruff House Records, but made the decision to finish her high school education first.
As she was growing up, Green claims to have been influenced by all kinds of music. She loved Tina Turner and Stevie Wonder, but she was also influenced by the jazz music of Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan and the rhythm and blues music of Teena Marie and Donny Hathaway.
"I was going to go away for college," she recalled in Billboard, "but my mom pushed me to keep on with my singing. She called every entertainment agency in the phone book. I started singing with one band, which led to other band gigs, weddings, jazz clubs. ... everything you could possibly do without a record deal."
She began recording and distributing demos and writing songs for other musicians. She got her first break in songwriting at age 17, writing music with the group Boyz II Men, including the song "Dear God" for their Evolution CD. Her next break came at age 19 when she joined fellow Philadelphian Jill Scott's tour as a backup singer. It was also here that she met drummer Erik Tribbet, who became a major part of her life. They became romantically involved, and before long they were engaged.
In November of 2001, she signed a contract with Columbia Records. By the end of the following year, she released her first album, A Love Story, with "Roller Coaster" as the smash hit single. The lyrics of the ballad caught on with many who had experienced the complications of love, stating "Loving you ain't nothing healthy/Loving you was never good for me/But I can't get off/This emotional roller coaster." "You don't come across an artist like this very often, and when you do, you're tempted to shout about it a little bit," Columbia Records' chairman Don Ienner told Billboard.
Columbia head of urban marketing Shanti Das added, "She's a true R&B songstress, so we're concentrating on putting together a great word-of-mouth campaign, getting that organic ground swell going. We feel confident that this will grow into a big project for us."
They were right. Vivian Green found success, and the album reached gold status in May of 2003. Green told Jet that she named the CD A Love Story "because that's exactly what it is." Green wrote most of the lyrics and considers it to be a very autobiographical album, chronicling about three-and-a-half years of her life when she struggled to love herself after surviving the breakup of two different relationships. "I wear my heart on my sleeve," she said.
Green received three nominations for the ninth annual Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards in 2003, for Best R&B/Soul Single; R&B/Soul Album of the Year; and Best R&B/Soul or Rap New Artist.
Branching out in a new direction, Green dabbled in acting. She had a small part in an episode of the TV drama American Dreams in April of 2003. She then played a part in De-Lovely, a film about the life of Cole Porter that was released in 2004, starring Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd. In the film, which was shot in London, she sang Billie Holiday's "Love for Sale." Green was also featured on the soundtrack.
On June 28, 2005, Green released Vivian. She wrote the music and ventured into helping to produce the album, which debuted at number five on the Billboard charts. The hit single "Gotta Go Gotta Leave (Tired)" described packing up and leaving after the breakup of a relationship. As in her first album, she continued to explore heartbreak and love through her music, but this time she tried to incorporate more of the positive aspects of love. "I don't want anyone to think I'm heartbroken," she confessed on her official website. "When I was writing my first album, there was a lot of sadness going on there, but this one is different. Even the breakup on this record is not sad, this is happy, it's all good, I'm not on a rollercoaster."
People stated, "Buckle up, folks, because the R&B chanteuse is back with more of love's twists and turns on this satisfying sophomore outing." But other reviews were mixed. Green turned toward rhythm and blues on this album, after her first album was labeled neo-soul or jazz, and Rolling Stone commented, "Trading the jazzy retro-soul of her debut for overly familiar R&B beats, Green now strains her pipes like every other overwrought wanna-be diva, with diminished results. Too many tortured relationship songs suggest Green should consider musical and couples counseling."
Sales of her albums, however, have indicated that Green is here to stay, and she is reaching out in new directions, with an interest in scoring films, recording more soundtracks, writing songs for others, and working on TV projects for children. Green has one son, Jordan, who was fathered by Erik Tribbet. The couple is no longer together.
"I love songwriting and want to take that into different avenues," Green told Billboard. "I want to do whatever comes across the table."
by Sarah Parkin
Vivian Green's Career
Received first publishing credit for writing "Dear God" for Boyz II Men on their Evolution album, 1997; became backup singer for Jill Scott, 1999; signed contract with Columbia Records, 2001; released A Love Story, 2002; appeared in motion picture De-Lovely, 2004; released Vivian, 2005.
- Billboard, November 9, 2002; July 16, 2005.
- Billboard Bulletin, May 30, 2003; July 18, 2003.
- Ebony, June 2004; June 2005.
- Jet, August 11, 2003.
- People, January 27, 2003; July 4, 2005.
- Rolling Stone, August 11, 2005.
- Soul Train Lady of Soul Awards, http://www.awardsavenue.com (September 6, 2005).
- Sing365, http://www.sing365.com (September 6, 2005).
- Vivian Green Official Website, http://www.viviangreen.com (September 9, 2005).