Celebrating 40 years in music, three-time GRAMMY® award-winning drummer, producer, educator and activist, Terri Lyne Carrington started her professional career in Massachusetts at 10 years old when she became the youngest person to receive a union card in Boston. She was featured as a “kid wonder” in many publications and on local and national TV shows. After studying under a full scholarship at Berklee College of Music, Carrington worked as an in-demand musician in New York City, and later moved to Los Angeles, where she gained recognition on late night TV as the house drummer for both The Arsenio Hall Show and Quincy Jones’ VIBE TV show, hosted by Sinbad.
In 1989, Ms. Carrington released a GRAMMY®-nominated debut CD on Verve Forecast, Real Life Story, and toured extensively with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, among others. In 2011 she released the GRAMMY®Award-winning album, The Mosaic Project, featuring a cast of all-star women instrumentalists and vocalists, and in 2013 she released, Money Jungle: Provocative in Blue, which also earned a GRAMMY®Award, establishing her as the first woman ever to win in the Best Jazz Instrumental Album category.
To date Ms. Carrington has performed on over 100 recordings and has been a role model and advocate for young women and men internationally through her teaching and touring careers. She has worked extensively with luminary artists such as Al Jarreau, Stan Getz, Woody Shaw, Clark Terry, Cassandra Wilson, Dianne Reeves, James Moody, Yellowjackets and Esperanza Spalding, and many more. Ms. Carrington’s 2015 release, The Mosaic Project: LOVE and SOUL, featured performances of iconic vocalists Chaka Khan, Natalie Cole, and Nancy Wilson.
In 2003, Ms. Carrington received an honorary doctorate from Berklee College of Music and was appointed professor at the college in 2005, where she currently serves as the Founder and Artistic Director of the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice, which recruits, teaches, mentors, and advocates for musicians seeking to study jazz with gender equity as a guiding principle, and asks the important question, “what would jazz sound like in a culture without patriarchy?” She also serves as Artistic Director for Berklee’s Summer Jazz Workshop, co-curator for BAMS Fest, and co-Artistic Director of The Carr Center, Detroit, MI.
In 2019 Ms. Carrington was granted The Doris Duke Artist Award, a prestigious acknowledgment in recognition of her past and ongoing contributions to jazz music. Her current band project, Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science (a collaboration with Aaron Parks and Matthew Stevens), released their debut album, Waiting Game, in November, 2019 on Motema Music. Galvanized by seismic changes in the ever-evolving social and political landscape, Waiting Game expresses an unflinching, inclusive, and compassionate view of humanity’s breaks and bonds through an eclectic program melding jazz, R&B, indie rock, contemporary improvisation, and hip-hop.
Both Waiting Game and the Berklee Institute of Jazz and Gender Justice point to Carrington’s drive to combine her musical passion with her profound regard for humanity. Waiting Game is not the first time that Carrington has addressed her concerns for society, though it is the most direct and impactful. The subjects addressed on Waiting Game run the gamut of social concerns: mass incarceration, police brutality, homophobia, the genocide of indigenous Americans, political imprisonment, and gender equity.
“In previous projects I’ve hinted at my concerns for the society and the community that I live in,” Carrington says. “But everything has been pointing in this direction. At some point you have to figure out your purpose in life. There are a lot of drummers deemed ‘great.’ For me, that’s not as important as the legacy you leave behind.”
In October 2020, Carrington was named by the National Endowment for the Arts as one of four Jazz Masters for 2021, one of the nation’s highest honors in jazz.