Jazz Violinist and Composer
Maywood, New Jersey
Regina Carter has dedicated her life to unearthing the potential of the violin for expanding the world of jazz. In 2017, 100 years after Ella Fitzgerald’s birth, Carter released “Ella: Accentuate the Positive” to share through the violin the lesser known facets of Fitzgerald’s work that Carter found to be powerful responses to current events. Previously, Carter mined archives and historical documents to research her own mother’s musical interests and the memories of her relatives before releasing “Southern Comfort” (2014), her reinterpretation of African American history. In 2001, Carter became the first jazz musician and African American to play “Il Cannone Guarnerius,” a violin made in 1743, for a concert in Genoa held in light of the September 11 attacks in New York City.
Carter’s respect for the broader world of music is manifest in the ends and means of her creative process. Her work is informed by classical studies at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, studies in jazz at Oakland University in Michigan, and experiences teaching violin in public schools across Detroit and to residents of a U.S. military base in Germany. In the late 1980s, Carter performed and recorded with an all-female pop-jazz quartet, Straight Ahead; performed with Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel and Dolly Parton in the 1990s; and led and toured with her own quintets. Today, Carter pursues her vision for the violin alongside a wide variety of musicians and is quick to celebrate the caliber of music created in collaboration.
Carter was awarded a 2006 MacArthur Fellows Program grant, multiple readers and critics poll awards from DownBeat and JazzTimes, and honors from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, and was named the artistic director of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center’s All-Female Jazz Residency for the summer of 2018. She is actively involved in teaching music and supporting communities through performance and volunteer work.