Dr. Nathan Mitchell Carter Jr. Tribute

(Morgan Years: 1970-2004)

Dr. Nathan M. Carter: January 6, 1936 - July 15, 2004

A native of Selma, Alabama, Nathan Carter was Morgan State University’s Chairperson of the Department of Fine Arts, Director of the Performing Art Series, and Director of the acclaimed Morgan State University Choir. He was a graduate of the Hampton Institute, the Juilliard School of Music (with honors), and the Peabody Conservatory of Music. Prior to Dr. Carter’s joining the faculty of Morgan State University in 1970, he was the Choral Director and Chairperson of the Division of Music at Knoxville College, where his superior choirs were famed for their tours throughout the United States.

Dr. Carter had been president of the Maryland Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association and music consultant-conductor at the Baltimore School for the Arts. He was the Headmaster of the New Shiloh Baptist Church, School of Music, Baltimore, Maryland. He had frequently been engaged as guest conductor, lecturer, adjudicator and clinician throughout the United States, including Harvard University, University of Utah, University of Connecticut, Gettysburg College (where he was cited for the year visited as the “person who contributed most to the Department of Music”), and many other locations across the country. He had appeared as lecturer with Eva Jessye at the Cleveland Orchestra’s Community Music Project, and as guest conductor with the Detroit Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra, performing his own orchestral/ choral arrangements.

Among his many citations and honors are the Distinguished Service Award from the National Association of Negro Musicians for his outstanding contributions as a performer of works by Black composers, and the Phi Mu Alpha Service Award. Hampton University’s recent 125th anniversary celebration included honoring Dr. Carter as one of its distinguished alumni. Morgan State University bestowed upon him its Outstanding Achievement Award, the first ever to be awarded to a current member of the faculty. He joined Dr. Benjamin Quarles in Morgan’s First Annual Salute to Black Men, and was named among “Baltimore’s Best” by the city. His hometown of Selma, Alabama bestowed upon him a plaque and key to the city, designating Dr. Carter as “Honorary Mayor”. Dr. Carter was featured in Maryland Magazine’s 25th anniversary issue (Fall 1993) as one of a handful of notable citizens in the state of Maryland, and was named Conductor of the Year in 1994 by the Jentry McDonald Corporation. Nathan Carter, more than “Baltimore’s Best”, already belongs to that choral hall of fame which includes Eva Jessye, Jester Hairston, John Work, R. Nathaniel Dett, and William Dawson. In May 1995 he was awarded the Honorary Degree, Doctor of Fine Arts from Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

In May 1996, the Choir and Conductor celebrated 25 years together with a weekend of activities. A corporate Black Tie Banquet in his honor was given at the National Aquarium, followed by a Silver Anniversary Concert at the Meyerhoff Symphony Hall with members of the Baltimore Symphony. This concert was later covered by Maryland Public Television and was received throughout the State as the most popular and successful show ever produced by MPT. As a fund raiser, it netted MPT more in one night’s telethon than the “Three Tenors”. The Silver Anniversary concert won three Emmys for MPT and was chosen for national coverage during Christmas Eve 1997. Listed among his most recent honors are The Distinguished Alumni Award from Peabody Conservatory, The Gold Medal from The Rosa Ponselle Foundation, The Andrew White Medal from Loyola University (Baltimore, MD), and the Music America Lifetime Achievement Award from Westchester Philharmonic Orchestra. He was invited by the Cultural Affairs Office of USIA to do a two-week schedule of lectures and conducting in Nairobi, Kenya. He also collaborated with John Nelson, Conductor and Paul Schoenfield, Composer in presenting the world premier of a new work entitled “D’vorah” to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Israel (Haifa, Israel). This work was later done at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C. by the Morgan State University Choir. He had been selected by the Board of Directors of the National Association for the Study and Performance of African-American Music (NASPAAM) to be a 1999 National Award recipient.

IMG_0843Dr. Carter departed from this world on July 15, 2004. His presence will be sorely missed and his spirit deeply felt by the entire Morgan community.

A Nathan Carter Foundation has been established to accomplish the following tasks:

I. The bronze bust replica of Dr. Nathan M. Carter, Jr., by sculptor Mr. Simmie Knox, to be placed in the atrium of the Murphy Fine Arts Center

II. The annual Dr. Nathan M. Carter, Jr. scholarship awards to deserving music students attending Morgan State University; and

III. A wax replica of Dr. Nathan M. Carter, Jr., to be added to the National Great Blacks in Wax Museum's permanent and touring collections.

If you are interested in giving to this fund, please contact Mrs. Alethia B. Starke at cartermor@comcast.net or mail your contribution to Nathan M. Carter Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 2, Stevenson, MD 21153. Your contribution will be tax deductible as a 501(c)(3) organization.