“Not many people have made the transition from opera to rock 'n' roll, but Carolyne Mas is one of the few. Born in Bronxville, New York in 1955, she had piano lessons at six, learned the guitar at ten, and started to study opera at the age of eleven. High school, however, broadened the embryonic Aida, developing in her a keen appreciation of folk and jazz. She was in the school band and 'generally having a good time.'
Mas went on to the Music and Dramatic Academy on Bleeker Street, in Greenwich Village. The Village was musically uninspiring at that time, caught up in the death throes of flower power, so it was little wonder that Mas chose the academy with its Gilbert and Sullivan repertoire. Accepted at the Juilliard, Mas opted to perform at a folk festival when classes began in 1974.
After sporadically hitting the club circuit, by the summer of '76 Mas was beginning to develop fully her love for rock 'n' roll. She was writing songs that articulated other people's thoughts, songs that embraced all emotions. These she performed with conviction, in a distinctive way.
In September '78, Mas met Faris Bouhafa, a former record company executive, who became her manager. They teamed up with producer Steve Burgh and guitarist David Landau who had been playing with Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon. The first three months with her new team were spent rehearsing and playing low-key, out-of-town clubs. Mas' first major gig was in January, 1979, at New York's The Other End Club, with Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee.
Ecstatic press reports began to appear and, a month later, Mas was booked to sing there again, this time with The Persuasions. The club was filled with A&R men keen to see if the little girl with the big voice was for them. Meetings with various record companies ensued and, after headlining at The Other End in March, Mas finally signed with Mercury Records. The president, Bob Sherwood, had flown from Chicago specially to see her.
April '79 saw Mas touring the East Coast. In Syracuse, she played to over 5,000 people who wouldn't let her leave until she'd played several encores. A New York radion station taped the concert and for several days was inundated with calls from listeners eager to find out more about Ms. Mas.
A month later, she cut her first single, 'Still Sane,' which was released in September. The record was made in response to a demo tape being played on a radio station: again the reaction from listeners had been unprecedented.
An album, simply titled 'Carolyne Mas,' was released before the end of the year. The sleeve showed a facsimile of her kindergarten reports from February, 1961: 'Carol is a capable student, she enjoys all types of activities. Her small muscular work is highly defined. She is artistic and has a sense of detail and proportion; her mind is imaginative. She enjoys rhythms and music. Carol dawdles at times. She needs to develop a more realistic sense of time. Carol sometimes needs to be reminded of class rules.'
On hearing the album, one can say that Carol has indeed developed a more realistic sense of time: 'Never Two Without Three' is a marvelous track that demonstrates perfectly her flawless, instinctive timing. Her voice is pure, yet with a raw quality that gives each track energy and attack. The main attraction, though, must be the fact that she sounds as though she's having a good time.
The second album, 'Hold On,' released a year later has, if anything, even more attack and verve. The title track and 'Running From The High Life' are particularly notable.
During 1980, Mas toured the southern states of America, playing colleges in particular, where she was extremely well received. She went to Germany in January '81 and Phonogram decided to release a live album, 'Mas Hysteria,' which they promoted as a pseudo bootleg. 'Modern Dreams' was completed in April '81 and released the following July. Next stop Mas Appeal?” - Joan Komlosy
— NEW WOMEN IN ROCK (A Delilah/Putnam book, 1982)