is considered the foremost jazz violinist of her generation; she is also a MacArthur Fellow (and a recipient of the famed “genius grant”). Drawing from a diverse well of influences which include classical, jazz, Motown, swing, funk, and world music among others, Carter was born in Detroit and began studying piano at age two before taking up the violin. Her earliest training was in classical music, but an interest in jazz eventually took over.
In 1987, she joined the all-female pop-jazz quintet Straight Ahead and appeared on their first three albums before leaving the band in 1991 and moving to New York, where she picked up session work with artists including Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Dolly Parton, Max Roach and Oliver Lake. She released her self-titled solo album on Atlantic in 1995, followed by Something for Grace, an album dedicated to her mother and released in 1997. Carter also toured with Wynton Marsalis that same year, then switched to the Verve label where she released Rhythms of the Heart in 1999. Motor City Moments, a tribute to her hometown, followed in 2000.
In December 2001, she traveled to Genoa, Italy, and made musical history by being the first jazz musician and the first African American to play the legendary Guarneri Del Gesu violin, made in 1743 and owned by classical music virtuoso and composer Niccolo Paganini. This encounter inspired her 2003 album, Paganini: After a Dream, which featured works by Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy and Italian film composer Ennio Morricone. She recorded I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey in 2006 as a tribute to her late mother. That same year Carter was awarded the MacArthur Fellowship, given to a highly select group who “show exceptional merit and promise for continued and enhanced creative work.”
Reverse Thread, released in May 2010, was a celebration of traditional African music via a contemporary perspective. Carter also took her pioneering spirit on the road in the late summer and fall of 2012 for a two-month world tour with rock icon Joe Jackson’s stellar ensemble in support of his release The Duke, a collection of interpretations of Duke Ellington’s work.
Carter continues her musical quest for beauty and history with her SONY Music Masterworks debut Southern Comfort, in which she investigates her family history and explores the folk tunes her paternal grandfather, a coalminer, would have heard as he toiled in Alabama. The expanded project includes a blend of folk songs and spirituals, serving as Carter’s interpretation of her roots through a modern lens.
Said Chuck Mitchell, Senior Vice President of SONY Masterworks, "We're tremendously pleased to have the incomparable Regina Carter with us at Masterworks. Her musical odyssey has been charted through a series of unforgettable recordings over the years and Southern Comfort is the latest and perhaps the most eloquent expression of her deep and profoundly enlightening musical humanity.”
Southern Comfort was released on March 4, 2014 and is currently touring in support of the release.