Thursday October 16, 2014
From The Phoenix
The spark of inspiration
A conversation with Regina Carter
By: Johnette Rodriguez
If ever a musician understood the importance of exposure to music at an early age, it would be Regina Carter, who — family legend has it — at two years old, played a melody by ear on the piano after hearing her brother’s lesson. At four, she began studying the violin, and she hasn’t looked back since. From classical training as a teen and later at the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston, she switched to jazz at Michigan’s Oakland University and entered the Detroit jazz scene through trumpeter Marcus Belgrave.
After moving to New York in ’91 and releasing her first CD in ’95, she played with musicians as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Tanya Tucker, Steve Turre, and Mary J. Blige. Eight more of her own albums followed: one dedicated to the music of Detroit, one to the jazz standards of her mother’s time, one inspired by her African heritage and, most recently, 2014’s Southern Comfort, spurred on by the music her coalminer grandfather heard in Alabama and by field recordings from the Appalachian region.
In each of the albums, Carter re-interprets what she has heard and researched, giving each tune her own vision, as well as that special verve and distinctive polish she adds to her performances. She received a MacArthur “genius grant” in 2006 for being “a master of improvisational jazz violin.”
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