Jazz violinist Regina Carter was born on August 6, 1962 in Detroit, Michigan to Dan Carter, an auto worker, and Grace Williamson Carter, an elementary school teacher. She began taking music lessons at the age of two, first for the piano and later for the violin. Though classically trained, she started to become interested in jazz and funk when she was a teenager. She graduated from Cass Technical High School in Detroit, Michigan and enrolled in the New England Conservatory in Boston, Massachusetts. She went on to receive her B.A. degree in music from Oakland University.
In 1987, Carter 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 City, where she picked up session work with a variety of high-profile jazz and pop artists, including Aretha Franklin, Lauryn Hill, Mary J. Blige, Billy Joel, Dolly Parton, Max Roach and Oliver Lake.
Carter released her first solo album, Regina Carter, in 1995. It was followed by Something for Grace in 1997, Rhythms of the Heart in 1999, and Motor City Moments in 2000. In 2001, she traveled to Genoa, Italy, and became the first jazz musician and the first African American to play the Guarneri Del Gesu violin, a handcrafted violin from the eighteenth century that belonged to violinist and composer Niccolo Paganini. Carter then released the albums Paganini: After a Dream in 2003, I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey in 2006, Reverse Thread in 2010, and Southern Comfort in March of 2014.
In 2006, Carter was awarded the MacArthur “Genius” Fellowship. In 2007, she was named artist-in-residence at her alma mater, Oakland University, for which she taught master classes and worked with students, faculty and ensembles.
Regina Carter was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on February 17, 2014.