Regina Carter

A master of improvisational jazz violin, Regina Carter was awarded a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2006 for “pioneering new possibilities for the violin and for jazz.” San Francisco Performances also took note of her exceptional work, appointing her Artist-in-Residence for five years. A Sony Masterworks artist, she also served as a Resident Artistic Director for the discerning SFJAZZ during its inaugural season in its spectacular new home.

Regina Carter studied violin performance at the New England Conservatory of Music and received a BA (1985) in music from Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, where she has also been Artist-in-Residence.

In 1987, she joined the all-female pop-jazz quintet Straight Ahead and appeared on their first three albums before moving to New York City in 1991. Almost immediately, Ms. Carter was tapped for session work with the likes of Aretha Franklin, Mary J. Blige, Lauryn Hill, Billy Joel, and Dolly Parton. She also performed and toured with Ray Brown, Kenny Barron, the String Trio of New York, Cassandra Wilson, Oliver Lake, and Steve Turre, among others. In 1995, she released her self-titled solo debut on Atlantic Records. Two years later, she released her sophomore album, Something for Grace, which was dedicated to her mother. That same year, Regina Carter toured with Wynton Marsalis in support of his Pulitzer Prize-winning work, Blood on the Fields. She then signed with the venerable Verve label, releasing Rhythms of the Heart in 1999 and Motor City Moments in 2000, a tribute to her beloved hometown of Detroit.

In 2002, Regina Carter traveled to Genoa, Italy and made history by being the first jazz musician, as well as the first African American, to play the legendary Guarneri Del Gesu violin—a marvel of craftsmanship from 1743, which was owned by classical virtuoso and composer Niccolò Paganini. This once-in-a-lifetime experience inspired her next album, Paganini: After a Dream (2003) featuring works by Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, and Italian film composer Ennio Morricone. Two years later, Eddie Palmieri invited Ms. Carter to be a special guest artist on his Listen Here record, a Grammy Award winner for Best Latin Jazz Album. In 2006, she released I'll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey, a powerful and heartfelt tribute to her late mother.

After releasing Reverse Thread (2010), a celebration of traditional African music from a contemporary perspective, Regina Carter took her pioneering spirit on the road for a world tour with rock icon Joe Jackson in 2012, in support of his release The Duke—a collection of interpretations of the Duke Ellington catalog.

Ms. Carter continued her dynamic musical journey with her 2014 release Southern Comfort, where she investigated her family history, exploring the traditional folk songs her paternal grandfather would have heard as he toiled in the coal mines of Alabama. A musical interpretation of her roots, the expanded project includes a blend of folk tunes and spirituals.

2017 marks the 100th birthday of a true musical legend, Ella Fitzgerald. Ella is THE source of Regina Carter’s musical inspiration and an influence she has cherished throughout her life. Her forthcoming album and touring program celebrate the music and spirit of this incomparable musical juggernaut. Regina explains her deep and visceral connection to Ella's music:

"Growing up in Detroit, there was always music playing in our home. While there was a variety of music I enjoyed, there were a few artists I found consistently captivating—Ella Fitzgerald was one of these exceptions. To this very day, whenever I hear an Ella recording it grabs me at my core. I’m entranced by her voice, her melodic improvisations, and the passion and artfulness with which Ella sings a song. In a word, Ella is sublime, and she is at the top of my go-to list when learning a jazz tune. I'm so excited to celebrate Ella Fitzgerald, an artist who has meant so much to all the notes in my musical life."