Carter, Warrick L. 1942–
Warrick L. Carter 1942–
Music educator, composer and jazz percussionist
When Warrick Carter was named president of Columbia College Chicago in March of 2000, a Columbia spokesperson called him “unquestionably one of this country’s outstanding arts educators.” But even that glowing praise fails to capture the breadth of Carter’s accomplishments as a scholar, composer and drummer. His 14-page resume reads like a grocery list of what an individual with an interest in music and education might hope to achieve in his wildest dreams. And that resume stands to grow thicker yet.
Warrick Carter was born on May 6, 1942 in Charlottesville, Virginia. The Carter household was a musical one. Warrick’s father, railroad worker Charles M. Carter, Sr., was the founder of the Harry T. Burleigh Choir, a group specializing in spirituals and gospel. Warrick Carter and his three brothers all participated in that choir, which rehearsed at their home. The Carter brothers also sang in their church choir, which was organized by their mother, Evelyn Carter, who also taught piano lessons out of the Carter home. “Music was always a positive element in our lives and we celebrated and respected it,” Carter was quoted N’Digo.
After graduating from Burley High School, Carter enrolled at Tennessee State University, where he received his bachelors degree in Music Education in 1964. He launched his teaching career the same year, serving as instrumental music teacher at four elementary schools in Chattanooga. He moved up to Alton Park Junior High School the following year, all the while pursuing advanced study in percussion at Tennessee State. In 1966 Carter earned his Masters in music education from Michigan State University, and that year he accepted a job as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Bands at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, a position he held until 1971. Meanwhile, he continued his studies at Michigan State, earning his Ph.D. in 1970. He also served as director of Michigan State’s “Music Education for Urban Schools Symposium” summer program in 1970 and 1971.
Throughout this period, Carter remained active as a performer in addition to his work as an educator. He was a member of the Lansing (Michigan) Symphony Orchestra in 1965 and from 1968 to 1970. His arrangements and original compositions were performed by musicians at a variety of institutions, including Tennessee State, University of Maryland, George
Born May 6, 1942 in Charlottesville, VA; son of Evelyn and Charles M. Carter; married Laurel (Latta) Carter, 1993; children: Keisha. Education: Tennessee State University, BS, 1964; Blair Academy of Music, advanced percussion study, 1964-65; Michigan State University, MM, 1966, PhD, 1970.
Career: Assistant professor, Dept. of Music, University of Maryland, Michigan State University, 1966-67, 1971; director, Music Education for Urban Schools program, 1970-71; coordinator of Music, Governors State University, 1971-76, coordinator of Fine and Performing Arts, 1976-79, chairman of Division of Fine and Performing Arts, 1979-84; Dean of Faculty and Provost, Berklee College of Music, 1984-96; Director of Entertainment Arts, Walt Disney Entertainment, 1996-2000; president, Columbia College, 2000-.
Awards: Faculty Member of the Year, University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, 1967-68; National Black Music Caucus Achievement Award, National Black Music Caucus, 1980; Jack and Jill Achievement Award, 1983; named one of ten “Outstanding Music Educators, School Musician, 1983; International Jazz Educators Hall of Fame, International Association of Jazz Educators, 1996; National Black Music Caucus Achievement Award, 1997.
Addresses: Office —Columbia College, 600 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605.
Peabody Teachers College, Michigan State, University of Wisconsin, Southern University and Thornton Junior College. An early highlight of Carter’s career as a composer/arranger was a 1968 piece he arranged for Mercer Ellington’s band. Carter’s career as a percussionist included performances at a wide range of jazz festivals, army bases, and other concert venues, both in the United States and abroad. In 1970 he was honored with the Best Drummer award from the Collegiate Jazz Festival held at Notre Dame University. Carter’s compositions covered a vast territory, including pieces for jazz ensembles, percussion ensembles, marching band and orchestra. His orchestral works included such provocative titles as Life Part I (1963) and Concerto for Bassoon and Nose Whistle (1966).
In 1971 Carter was hired as a professor at Governors State University in Park Forest South, Illinois. He remained at that institution for 14 years, during which time he held several titles, including Coordinator of Music (1971-76), Coordinator of Fine and Performing Arts (1976-79), and Chairman of the Division of Fine and Performing Arts (1976-84). As division chairman, Carter oversaw the administration of four departments: music, theater, visual arts, and photography.
Carter left Governors State in 1984 and moved on the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, where he assumed first the post of Dean of Faculty, then Provost and Vice President of Academic Affairs. At Berklee, he was responsible for all academic divisions, and he designed and created the college’s academic organizational structure, including the development of new departments with degree offerings in technology, business and therapy. He also initiated a number of successful projects, including a faculty and student exchange program with the Netherlands and the Berklee International Network—a collaboration with institutions in France, Spain, Italy, Japan, Greece, Israel and Germany. Despite the hectic pace of his work, he found time in 1993 to marry Laurel Latta, an interior designer from Massachusetts. They have one daughter, Keisha.
Departing academia for the corporate world in 1996, Carter left Berklee and went to work for Walt Disney Entertainment in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. There he took control of Disney’s education, training and performance programs as director of Entertainment Arts, the corporation’s arts advocacy arm. In that capacity, he developed Disney’s partnerships with schools and arts organizations and oversaw an annual budget of nearly $40 million. As Carter shifted career directions, he managed to find the time to remain active as a percussionist, performing over the years with such notable entertainers as Peabo Bryson, Natalie Cole, the Chicago Chamber Orchestra, the Boston Pops Jazz Quartet, Billy Taylor, Clark Terry and Donald Byrd, to name just a few, at many prestigious venues, including the International Jazz Festival in Montreux, Switzerland. Demand for Carter’s services as a composer remained strong as well. The National Endowment for the Arts, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, and the Chicago Chamber Orchestra were among the groups that commissioned pieces penned by Carter.
By 2000 Carter was ready to return to the academic world. That year, he was named president of Columbia College in downtown Chicago, an independent, 9,000-student liberal arts school that boasts one of the world’s largest film and video departments. In his new post, Carter set his sights on, as he told Chicago Sun-Times reporter Lorraine Forte, “continuing Columbia’s development as the premier arts, media and communications college in the U.S.”
In his capacity as head of a growing institution, Carter is poised to continue doing what he has always done—help young, emerging musicians develop a thorough understanding both of the music they are attempting to compose and perform, and of the historical context in which that music is coming into being.
Roach, Hildred, Black American Music: Past and Present, Krieger Publishing Co., 1992.
Chicago Defender, April 3, 2000.
Chicago Sun-Times, March 31, 2000, p. 26; July 18, 2000, p. 16.
Chicago Tribune, March 31, 2000, sec. 2, p. 3.
Jet, April 17, 2000, p. 8.
N’Digo, August 17, 2000.
—Robert R. Jacobson
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