Vivian Green is currently right in the middle of a 13-city tour with the highly acclaimed stage play Two Can Play That Game. The play boasts an all-star cast of actors well known for film and television, names like Vivica A. Fox, Columbus Short and Carl Payne are all well-established in the craft. But for Vivian, this is something new. It’s her first time ever acting, and instead of acting in a film where her mistakes can be edited away or re-shot, her first acting experience comes on the stage in front of a live audience. And, as can be expected, she is still adjusting to the nuances of acting on stage instead of singing. “It’s definitely different than singing. When I perform as a singer, I’m never nervous. If I happen to forget the lyrics to a song, so what? I can do something to fix it. When I’m acting, I really can’t afford to miss a line.” She credits her cast with being her support system and her biggest fans, “ If a new singer comes into a professional situation and they are always going flat when trying to hold a harmony, other singers are probably not going to be so nice about it. But the actors I work with aren’t like that. They don’t do that. They are the best people! They are so helpful. They give me pointers. They give me tips. And it’s really been a good experience because of that.”
Vivian has always been the kind of woman that can bring the best out of others. After graduating early from high school, and spending almost two years hustling between singing at weddings on weekends, doing jazz gigs during the week and doing backup work for Jill Scott, she was finally signed by Columbia Records. The lovely Ms. Greene released her first album A Love Story in 2002. And while the album was seen by many as simply another extension of the neo-soul movement that started in the late 90’s, what listeners found in her was an artist with exceptional emotional range and a mature, sublime voice. It was strengthened by her jazz roots and anchored by her ability to bring her authentic self into her work. Her first single on that album, Emotional Rollercoaster was the signature track, a melodically beautiful offering that showed Vivian’s true worth as an artist and signaled her arrival.
Just as the ascension of her career began, Vivian found out that she was pregnant. But, instead of the fullness and happiness that should accompany the expectation of bringing life into the world, Vivian’s pregnancy was dismal and full of uncertainty. “My pregnancy was an intense time. The doctors saw something in their tests. They told me something was wrong.” The doctors saw a problem and informed her of their findings. They anticipated serious complications with Vivian’s pregnancy, and some of them wondered if she’d be successful at delivering a healthy baby at all. “They told me all of these horrible things that would happen to my child once he was born, if he even survived birth. I was determined though. I prayed everyday during my pregnancy. I prayed asking God to let my child be alright. I prayed that he would live a happy life.”
Jordan was born in 2004. He was born with what Vivian says the doctors describe as an “unknown” syndrome, which affects his bones. His index finger and thumb share the same bone, leaving him without thumb opposition, which is important with regards to being able to grasp objects. Vivian was overjoyed at the birth of her son, “after all of the horrible things that the doctors told me about my child, when he arrived he was the most beautiful person I’ve ever seen.”
Shortly after Jordan’s birth, Vivian went back to work, releasing Vivian in 2005. She didn’t release another album for five years. Jordan’s health and development had become her priority. “The reason for the breaks between albums was my son. He was seeing numerous specialists, and they were constantly observing him. The long hiatus was due to that. The early half of his life was tedious. We were always in and out of the hospital, things were always going on, and I just couldn’t spit out the albums like I might have wanted to. I just couldn’t do it. I am his mother. I needed to be with him.” The soul singer that had crammed two years of High School into one so that she could graduate early and pursue her dream of music, had found her purpose in raising her son. “When Jordan came, I knew that motherhood was my purpose. I just wanted to make sure that he knows that he is one of the most loved people on the planet.”
In time, Jordan’s condition began to stabilize and Vivian was able to continue her career. She released an album titled Beautiful in 2010. And while Jordan being better gave her an opportunity to return to singing, the harmony between motherhood and career was still a challenging thing to balance. “It’s really difficult. I don’t find it to be easy. If I didn’t have my mother, I don’t know if I’d be able to do it in any capacity. She’s been a huge blessing in my life.” Still, Vivian has been successful at juggling being a single mother and being a career woman, and it is important to her that her fans and the people that attend her live shows understand her struggles, because she knows that many of them deal with the same kinds of struggles. “Your truth helps people through their own life situations. That matters to me. Whenever I perform live, and I get to meet the fans, there are always those that tell me your music helped me get through college. Or, your music helped get me through my divorce. People want to share with you how they made it, how you helped them make it. And I want to share that as well. The experiences of being Jordan’s mom have strengthened me as a person.”
Jordan is 13 now. He can do most things that normal children his age can do. There is nothing he enjoys more than being on tour with his mom. “He’s definitely a road kid. He loves it! He loves the flying, or taking the Amtrak. He really enjoys being with me on the road.” And, Vivian has found her stride career-wise. Her 2015 album titled Vivid peaked at number 10 on the U.S. Rhythm and Blues charts, and the single from that album Get Right Back to my Baby received national spins and industry acclaim. She just released VGVI in October, and is currently touring with the stage play. However, her focus is always on her son, which is why she committed to being a part of the I am different, I am human campaign. The campaign is a Public Service Announcement for special needs awareness. “I would always see PSAs about specific conditions, but my son didn’t really fit into any of those campaigns, and so I started to feel like there wasn’t anything out there for him. It bothered me a bit. Being his mother, there are certain things that he has to go through when he’s out in public that bother me greatly. So those things made me want to do a PSA for all special needs people. Not just about my son, but for all people. 19% of Americans suffer from some special needs or disability. We just all need to be more aware. Special needs people are some of the most good-hearted people you could ever meet.” Vivian feels that she has always had in her the desire to be a part of such a campaign, “Jordan is a gift, and I know that there is a responsibility attached to the gift. So, I’ve always wanted to speak for Jordan and for all of those who either are special needs persons, or those who love and care for those with special needs.”
While singing has always been her passion and career, and while acting is her newest endeavor, Vivian Green’s purpose has been and will always be attached to her son Jordan. Her job as mother is the one that gives her other jobs their meaning, and her experiences as a mother have reinforced the value she places on her career and her fans. “I put my soul and spirit into my work because I want my fans to know that they are not alone. I am so proud to be Jordan’s mom, and I am even more proud of the child that I raised.”