Famous violinist returns to Oakland University, performs with students

By Kaylee Kean

J

azz violinist and OU alumna Regina Carter returned to perform with OU’s Faculty Jazz Quartet and Chamber Orchestra Jan. 18 at the Varner Recital Hall.

The Faculty Jazz Quartet is comprised of Miles Brown, Sean Dobbins, Scott Gwinnell and Mark Stone. The Chamber Orchestra is comprised of student performers and conducted by Alan MacNair.

Carter is an American jazz violinist that graduated from Oakland University in 1985 with a bachelor’s in music, according to the school’s website. She is now Oakland’s artist-in-residence, which means she comes back to campus two times a year to teach and work with the students and faculty.

 

Homecoming

When she first came back to Oakland to teach, Carter said she felt like she had never left.

“I thought, ‘Did I really graduate?’” said Carter.

Carter said MacNair was actually her orchestra director in high school and that it feels like things have come “full circle.”

“It’s nice to come back here and to work with the students in the school and community,” Carter said.

She focuses on jazz and improvisation, sharing her professional and personal experiences.

“There are so many different ways to learn… especially improvisation,” said Carter.

 

Duet

Emily Hudock, a sophomore music major that performs in the Chamber Orchestra, said Carter came into one of her music classes last year.

“We were doing improvisational things and she just came in for a short while to give us some ideas,” said Hudock. “It was really cool.”

Saturday was her first time actually performing with Carter, Hudock said, and it made her nervous but excited.

“I think it’s fun that we’re able to do something different than what we usually do,” said Hudock. “It’s an adventure to do different things and play with someone that knows about this, knows her stuff.”

Hudock said she enjoyed playing with and learning from Carter because of her unique musical style.

“It’s free, it’s open and it’s jazzy,” said Hudock.

 

Her own style

Carter, who takes African folk tunes and puts her own “twist” on them, said one of the songs performed during the concert was a spiritual song called “I’m Going Home.” The song will be featured in her upcoming album, Southern Comfort, to be released in March 2014.

Carter said she can’t remember or imagine life without music.

“It’s just something I’ve done since I was two – it’s kind of like breathing,” said Carter.

Over the years Carter has performed with artists such as Aretha Franklin, Billy Joel and Mary J. Blige, according to her website.

Carter said she loves travelling and finding new music and people around the world. She said she will never stop wanting to come home, however.

“I love Detroit,” said Carter. “I love my city. I live in New York, but Detroit is my home.”