First String

Violinist and Detroit native Regina Carter settles back in her hometown for three appearances as she displays her virtuosic flair at the Detroit International Jazz Festival


Published:

 It was a joint,” she says almost offhandedly, but in a voice as cool as the music she plays.

Detroit-born jazz violin virtuoso Regina Carter is talking about Cobb’s Corner, a small club that made the corner of Cass and Willis ground zero for jazz in Detroit in the mid-1970s. It was there that Carter, alongside the likes of Marcus Belgrave and Lyman Woodard, developed and established her skill. But her fiddle didn’t always produce jazz.

Her classical training started at age 4, when she played 30 minutes a day, seven days a week. With each successive birthday, her teacher tacked on another half-hour of practice. By the time Carter was in high school, she was practicing six to eight hours daily.

Carter lived near Palmer Park and went to high school at Cass Tech. It was there that she finally met her music when a friend, jazz vocalist Carla Cook, brought Eddie Jefferson, Noel Pointer, and Jean-Luc Ponty to Cass Tech. Through Pointer and Ponty, Carter saw and heard the violin differently. Then Cook took her to see French jazz violinist Stéphane Grappelli. “I had never seen someone have fun with the instrument like that before,” Carter says. “I saw it in a different setting.”

And that was that.

In 2001, she traveled to Genoa, Italy, where she became the first jazz violinist (and the first African-American) to play the heavily guarded — and highly regarded — Il Cannone, Niccolò Paganini’s famous 260-year-old violin.

Carter returns to her roots for a late-summer appearance at the Detroit International Jazz Festival. On Aug. 31, she’s scheduled to perform with her quintet. She’ll play with jazz pianist Kenny Barron on Sept. 2, and with The Clayton-Hamilton Jazz Orchestra on Labor Day. “It’s going to be a blast,” she says. “I’ll be happy to be home.”
Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

Web Exclusive: Meeting the Beatles

Fifty years ago, a Detroit-area teenager won a contest to meet The Beatles.

Rocking in Style

John Varvatos and Alice Cooper talk about their musical and fashion influences — and Detroit’s comeback

Well-Versed in Classics

DSO oboe player tools around town in a rare pair of turquoise 1962 Lincoln Continentals

All Dressed Up & Ready ...

Cobo Center is still a work in progress, but Auto Show visitors will notice a host of improvements

One Night Only: Steven Spielberg and John Williams at the DSO

Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Makings of the Shinola Hotel
    When the Detroit brand’s first foray into hospitality opens its doors, it’ll offer customers...
  2. My Two Christmases
    An Armenian-Iranian, Detroit-based writer reflects on transposing the holiday across continents
  3. An Hour with ... Carmen Harlan
    Broadcast journalist and founder of the Carmen Harlan Collection
  4. New Year’s Eve, Brooklyn Style
    Tips for celebrating 2019 from the pros at Brooklyn Outdoor
  5. Hour Detroit and Detroit Home’s Downtown Living Tour 2018
    Hour Detroit and Detroit Home’s third annual Downtown Living Tour took place September 7th-9th....
  6. Main Review: SheWolf
    Born in Detroit but inspired by Rome, SheWolf takes diners on a culinary journey
  7. Cocktail Recipe: Toddy Incarnata
  8. Meet the Makers: Tait Design Co.
    How an after-work hobby ascended to a booming business
  9. The Art of Gifting
    Metro Detroit tastemakers from all walks of life offer a glimpse of what’s on their holiday...
  10. Comeback Catering
    Dish, in Detroit, pushes through hard times with consistently delicious food