Brooklyn Center for the Performing Arts at Brooklyn College continues its 2015-16 season on Saturday, April 16, 2016 at 8 pm with Regina Carter’s Southern Comfort. Violin virtuoso and MacArthur fellow Regina Carter pays a tender tribute to her paternal grandfather, an Alabama coal miner, in an inspirational concert drawing from Appalachian fiddle tunes, church hymns, and the joyous Southern folk music that infused her childhood.
Released in March, 2014 by Sony Music Masterworks, “Southern Comfort” explores the folk music of the American South. The album thematically connects Carter’s earlier albums I’ll Be Seeing You: A Sentimental Journey (2006), which features her mother’s favorite early jazz standards, and Reverse Thread (2010), which celebrates the tradition of African music re-imagined for violin, accordion, bass, drums, and kora.
With Southern Comfort, Carter interprets her won roots through a modern lens. She sought out distant relatives and books about the era in which her grandfather lived. From there, she went to the Library of Congress and the renowned collections of folklorists such as Alan Lomax and John Work III, digging deep into their collected field recordings from Appalachia.
“When I would hear some of these field recordings, if I heard something that touched me I put it on the list,” said Carter. “I had maybe 50 tunes that I felt strongly about, and I finally forced myself to work more on those to stop myself from collecting more.” The 11 tracks on Southern Comfort include Carter’s interpretations of Cajun fiddle music, early gospel, and coal miner’s work songs, in addition to some more contemporary tunes.
“In the Appalachians there were Scottish and Irish descendants, slaves, and Native Americans. It was a cultural hodgepodge, and the music resulting from it is intoxicating. This disc was to pay homage to my family,” said Carter, “but it turned out to be so much more.”
The musicians on this recording bring a different mixture of backgrounds to the project, including guitarists Adam Rogers and Marvin Sewell, bassists Chris Lightcap and Jesse Murphy, accordionist Will Holshouser and drummer Alvester Garnett, who also provided arrangements. Stefon Harris, Xavier Davis and Nate Smith also contributed arrangements, about which Carter expressed, “Each arranger brings out something musically that’s unique to them which speaks to me.”
Said Chuck Mitchell, senior vice president of SONY Masterworks, “We’re tremendously pleased to have the incomparable Regina Carter with us at Masterworks. Her musical odyssey has been charted through a series of unforgettable recordings over the years, and ‘Southern Comfort’ is the latest and perhaps the most eloquent expression of her deep and profoundly enlightening musical humanity.”