Violinist to jazz up BGSU Festival SeriesWritten by Vicki L. Kroll | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to her piano teacher, Regina Carter loved playing music.
“I started on piano before violin at the age of 2, and I studied with this woman, Mrs. Love, and she’d always have those pieces for me to learn, those books for young players, but I always went in and played tunes for her that I had composed, and I actually tried to write them down, not knowing how to write music, but I would just draw these huge circles on paper and take it in and say this is my piece,” Carter recalled.
Love kept Carter’s compositions.
“When I was in high school, [Love] made them into a book and presented them to my mother. They’re hysterical; it looks like these dinosaur eggs on paper,” Carter said during an interview from Maywood, N.J. “But I remember the fact that she never scolded me for not learning my lesson and actually told my mother that she should just continue to let me be creative like that so I wouldn’t grow to dislike music. So that always stuck with me.”
Love also had a hand in pointing Carter to her future.
“The piano teacher called my mother and told her they were offering Suzuki for the first time in Detroit, and she thought it would be perfect for me because I had a really strong ear, and Suzuki is based on learning music like you would a language, so she thought my mom should check it out. And then they were only offering it for strings, so she took me in and I really enjoyed it.”
The Motown native started playing violin at age 4. She concentrated on classical music until she was in high school and went to see jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli in concert.
“He just had so much joy when he was playing,” Carter said. “He was always smiling, and you could tell he and his band were having such a good time. And I wanted to always have that feeling when I played and wanted to convey that feeling to the audience, and decided that’s the music I want to play.”
She played violin in the all-female quintet Straight Ahead before striking out on her own. Carter has released six solo discs, including 2006’s “I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey,” a tribute to her late mother. She has recorded with Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Mary J. Blige, Kenny Barron and Lauryn Hill.
And in 2001, she was the first jazz artist and African American to play Paganini’s Guarneri del Gesu violin in Genoa, Italy, where it is kept under lock and key.
“They gave me two days with this violin that’s over 250 years old — not all day, maybe four hours each day, which is not enough time to get used to an instrument,” Carter said. “And I always had an armed guard with me in the room and the violin master, so it was a really uncomfortable situation.”
But the concert was a success and inspired Carter to play the famed instrument for “Paganini: After a Dream” in 2003.
Carter will open Bowling Green State University’s Festival Series at 8 p.m. Sept. 19 in Kobacker Hall of the Moore Musical Arts Center. Tickets are $30, $25 and $18.
For more information, visit the Web site www.reginacarter.com.