When Nathan Carter passed away last week, Morgan State University lost its esteemed choir director, Baltimore lost one of its greatest cultural ambassadors, and music lost one of those klieg-light talents that don’t walk among us too often. Under Dr. Carter’s watchful, painstaking eye, the MSU choir became a world-renowned force, touring and recording with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, and others. But he also found time to sculpt the Baltimore School for the Arts choral program. The world called, and he chose to build where he lived.
We say all this because if Dr. Carter’s musical accomplishments were any greater he’d walk on water, yet his career—marked by a devotion to young people, impeccable standards, expectations of greatness, and a willingness to work hard to get it—isn’t one usually spotlighted as a so-called music success. Music successes tour by jet and have enough money to buy and sell people for lunch. Music successes live in fancy-pants cities and get their names in glossy magazines. In other words, music successes aren’t supposed to be an African-American choir director from a historically black university in Baltimore, but try telling that to the lives Dr. Carter touched for the past 34 years.
The stories in this here Big Music Issue look for more homegrown goodness that the rest of the world ignores for no good reason, and we know we’ve only scratched the surface. So go ahead, tell us what we’ve missed while getting into the lives captured here. We’ll check it out. Go ahead, tell us what we overlooked while writing about what we’re digging. We’ll give it listen. Dr. Carter no doubt knew the reason you preach to the choir is to make it sing. Raise up.
City Paper would like to thank Jack Moore of ¡El Suprimo! Records for the use of his cowbell and model Paige Shuttleworth for knowing how to work it.