Name: Terri Lyne Carrington
Years Playing: started when she was 7, professionally when she was 10
College/Major/Degree: Berklee College of Music, Full Scholarship, Full Time for a year and a half
*Note: This interview is a compilation of information attained from a telephone interview as well as bio content taken from Terri Lyne Carrington’s site with permission.
Terri Lyne Carrington seriously started studying music when she was seven. Her father knew about musicians, so whenever they came through town he would take her to go see them. At a young age, she was already listening to players like Dizzy, Clarke Terry, and Grover Washington Jr.
Born in Medford, Massachusetts in 1965, Terri developed a reputation as a child prodigy, jamming with jazz veterans Dizzy Gillespie, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Oscar Peterson, Joe Williams, and many more. At 7, she was given her first set of drums, which had belonged to her grandfather, Matt Carrington. After studying privately for three years, she played her first major performance at the Wichita Jazz Festival with Clarke Terry. Shortly afterward she received a full scholarship at age 11 to Berklee College of Music where she started playing with such people as Kevin Eubanks, Mike Stern, Branford Marsalis, Greg Osby and others. She also studied under master drum instructor Alan Dawson and made a private recording entitled, “TLC and Friends”, with Kenny Barron, Buster Williams, George Coleman and her dad, Sonny Carrington, before turning 17.
Throughout high school Terri traveled across the country doing clinics at schools and colleges and in 1983, encouraged by her mentor, Jack DeJohnette, moved to New York and started working with Stan Getz, James Moody, Lester Bowie, Pharoah Sanders, Cassandra Wilson, and David Sanborn.
In 1989, Terri moved to Los Angeles where she became the drummer for the “Arsenio Hall Show”. She has also toured the globe with Mike Stern, Joe Sample, Al Jarreau, Herbie Hancock and spiritual mentor, Wayne Shorter. Her debut release on Polygram, “Real Life Story”, was nominated for a Grammy Award and featured Carlos Santana, Patrice Rushen, John Scofield, Grover Washington, Jr., and Gerald Albright.
Recently, she has concentrated her efforts on writing and producing with various artists including Gino Vannelli, Dianne Reeves, etc. Her production of Dianne Reeves’ Grammy-nominated CD, “That Day”, hovered at the top of the charts for many months. Terri was also the drummer on the late night TV show, “VIBE”, hosted by Sinbad.
At the time of writing her latest solo CD, “Jazz Is A Spirit”, (released in March 2002 on the ACT Music label) has enjoyed considerable media attention. Since she has released Grammy winning album “The Mosaic Project” and “Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue.”
HER GREATEST INFLUENCES
Jack Dejohnette – his way of looking at music is really open, multi-directional. Her family would always take her to his concerts.
HER ADVICE FOR THE FEMALE MUSICIAN
“Don’t let anything deter you from what you want to do, but make sure you are good at it. Don’t let anything cripple you. Just have the determination to be the best that you can be.”
ON BEING LEFT OUT AS A FEMALE MUSICIAN
“There are so many male musicians who won’t necessarily hire any female players because they don’t want to be out on the road with women.” But Terri Lyne Carrington doesn’t really let it bother her because her career is doing okay.
MAINTAINING YOUR IDENTITY
Terri Lyne Carrington has never had any trouble maintaining her identity. She only went through a period of not wanting to be called a jazz musician because she played so many styles.
DATING IN THE MUSIC INDUSTRY
“It’s okay. Some people it works really well for, but others it doesn’t. A lot of times there are issues with jealousy. It really depends on the people. It doesn’t really matter as long as you find someone that you have a connection with.”
DO YOU BELIEVE THAT YOUR GENDER OR APPEARANCE HAS AFFECTED YOUR CAREER? IF SO, HOW HAVE YOU CHANGED YOURSELF TO CONFORM TO YOUR INDUSTRY STANDARDS? HAS THIS CHANGED OVER TIME?
“It can be a bit of a novelty to be a woman playing drums, and it creates diversity in the band. Sometimes it can work to your advantage, but other times not so much. One person’s poison is another person’s medicine.”
WHAT HAVE YOU BEEN DOING WITH YOUR CAREER FOR YOURSELF? HOW HAS MONEY CHANGED YOUR INITIAL CAREER PLANS? WHAT DO YOU PLAN ON DOING WITH YOUR CAREER IN THE FUTURE?
Terri Lyne Carrington finds pleasure in writing her own bios and articles, maintaining a household, while trying to have a social life. She is going to start teaching a lot more and she is looking forward to that. Terri Lyne Carrington also wants to write some books and record more as a leader. She is going to start teaching at Berklee College of Music.
WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO CONTINUE MUSIC?
WHAT DO WISH HAD HAPPENED WITH YOUR CAREER?
She tries not to look at what could have been or should have been. She has always thought it important to move forward constantly and not stay in one place for too long. “You have to be happy with where you are”.
WHERE DO YOU THINK THAT YOUR ART IS GOING? DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS IS A POSITIVE OR NEGATIVE DIRECTION?
“It is what it is….. I hope that people become more educated about great music from the past as well as demand a stronger integrity for the music of today. It’s all good if it is creative and meaningful. But so much is watered down for commercial success that the good gets lost. We need to bring the standard back up. Not sure if that is possible, but that is what needs to happen to save our musical future. And as far as the music business goes, that has always been more than questionable, though now it seems people are becoming more conscious due to the market changing and more self produced projects AND the knowledge that we can own our own music. That is a good thing!”
“There is always interesting things with people trying to push the envelope and be as interesting a possible. That is always going to be the hardest thing to find – you have to be in a mindset to look for cutting edge music if that is what you are into.” When she meets musicians who are doing something different, she appreciates them. “You have people who are always going to remain true to their music and people that are going to combine styles – so the direction of music is always going to be both positive and negative.”
WHO ARE SOME OF THE COOLEST PEOPLE THAT YOU HAVE PLAYED WITH?
Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Santana, Herbie Hancock and Head Hunters 2005, Wayne Shorter, Dianne Reeves, Rufus Reid, Eric Marienthal, James Moody
Just played in Rome last month with Herbie Hancock and Carlos Santana for 500,000 people. It was Quincy Jones MTV benefit, “We Are The Future.” But our portion did not make the edited MTV airing.
“I try hard to forget those…”
Hiking or just walks in a natural environment, playing pool, being outside and being social with friends, read metaphysical books, go to movies
ADVICE FOR THE YOUNG MUSICIAN:
“Always remain humble. Learn. Realize we are going to drop into the ocean one day.”
HER MOST EMBARRASSING MUSICAL MOMENT:
She doesn’t embarrass easy. Once when she played with Art Farmer – they played a slow tune, but the next tune they played was so fast she could only play it in half time. “As a kid it was pretty embarrassing.”
TOP 5 ALBUMS OF ALL TIME
Coltrane – Ballads
Miles – Kind Of Blue
Joni Mitchell – Don Juan’s Reckless Daughter
Hendrix – Band Of Gypsies
Wayne Shorter – Native Dancer
IS SHE ENDORSED BY ANYONE?
Terri Lyne Carrington endorses Yamaha Drums, Zildjian Cymbals & Sticks, and Remo Drum Heads.
ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ADD?
“Be a complete person. Stay up on political awareness, realize that what you do reaches a lot of people. Create values with what you do in your career. You are going to touch some one with what you do, and that is a lot of responsibility. Stay grounded. Strive to better at every juncture. Be in touch with one’s spirituality…”
For more information visit Terri Lyne Carrington’s web site.