Regina Carter, Female Jazz violinist

Violinist Regina Carter, originally from Detroit, is a highly original soloist whose sophisticated technique and rich, lush tone took the jazz world by pleasant surprise.

Regina’s talent, determination and capacity for hard work were evident at an early age. She had a passion for music and music education, and the support and encouragement of her family.

The younger years

Growing up, Regina was exposed to a variety of music.She started playing the piano at the age of two and switched to violin at four. Her early influences were mainly classical music. She performed with the Detroit Civic Symphony. “People are only used to hearing violin in European classical music or country music,” Carter once said. She proved to audiences that the violin is capable of playing many types of music—from Latin to Rhythm & Blues.
Regina attended Detroit’s prestigious Cass Technical High School. Upon graduating, she departed for the new England Conservatory of Music, only to return to Michigan to join the all-female jazz quartet Straight Ahead.

In 1994 she started her solo career. She had already been doing session work in the city and sought to make the move permanent. Regina began working with Max Roach, the String Trio of New York, and the Uptown String Quartet before recording her self-titled debut recording on Atlantic in 1995.

Regina left Atlantic for Verve in 1998 and recorded two more outings under her own name, the last of which, Motor City Moments, is her finest session. In 2001, Carter recorded a duet session with Kenny Barron, which has been universally acclaimed for its lyrical qualities and stunning range of dynamics and harmonic invention.

Role models and Mentors

Regina’s role models were mostly male: classical violinists Itzhak Perlman and Yehudi Menuin; jazz violinists Stephane Grappelli, Jean-Luc Ponty and Stuff Smith, and jazz giants like saxophonists Charlie Parker and Ben Webster, and trumpeter Clark Terry. Her mother was her earliest mentor; another was Detroit trumpeter-jazz instructor Marcus Belgrave.