CARMEN CARTER... One of the music industry’s most versatile and powerful west coast vocalists, Carmen Carterhas got it all. Born in Los Angeles, California and growing up in Inglewood, California this High School homecoming queen was voted most popular, most dedicated and most spirited by her senior classmates. She participated in many activities in school. Not only did she play volleyball and softball, but she also found time to become a cheerleader and to sing in the choir. She recalls her first solo on stage at Morningside High school in front of her peers. “I was extremely nervous...I sang “Be Yourself” by Debbie Laws”.
In addition to her athletic and artistic abilities, she proved to be intellectual. Being accepted into UCLA with a 3.8 grade point average and graduating number 5 in a class of approximately 300 students, Carmen majored in Biology. Her goal was to attend Medical school and become an obstetrician/gynecologist. But as she ventured out performing at various nightclubs in the evening such as with jazz fusion band “Kush”,her love for music quickly cast a perilous cloud over her interest in school. Juggling her academic and music career proved to be extremely difficult. Her late nightclub and early morning class hours barely gave Carmenenough time to breathe.
Carmen decided to change her major to “Psychology” thinking that her workload would be lighter. She began skipping class and relying solely on purchased lecture notes as her main source of study material. To her dismay, the lecture notes were not sufficient enough to pull the A’s that she was so accustomed to making. She knew she was at a crossroad and had to make a tough decision, one that would disappoint her proud parents. Reluctantly, Carmen decided to drop out of College and devote her time and energy to her true love…Music! Her parents were outraged and disappointed.
In 1998, Carmen met contractor/singer/songwriter/producer Alex Brown at a background recording session for Capitols R& B recording artist O Bryan.“ Bruce Sterling the musical director and founder of “Kush” put in a good word for me and got me on the session…But I had never sang background with professional background singers before! I almost bailed. But she didn’t! She holds fast to the idea that in order to succeed one must not be afraid to fail, so she struggled through the session. Alex Brown could detect Carmen’s anxiety and gave her an encouraging pat on the back and said “You can do it…You sound good. “Her words were so reassuring. They gave me the confidence to “Sing Out Louise” as Alex Brown would say.”
From that day forward Alex Brown hired me to sing on demos’ that she and Ron “Lord Have Mercy” Kersey wrote for artist they were producing. Ron Kersey is most widely known for the Multi Platinum hit “Disco Inferno” and Alex Brown for Anita Bakers “Just Because”. “Alex was and is still my mentor and best friend.” “I learned so much from her … she is the reason why I’ve come this far in the business…I went on my first tour with and because of her.” They traveled to Japan along with Philip Ingram to sing background on Japanese recording artist Anri’s album. Later, Carmen landed a job touring with Karen White and believe it or not the infamous Milli Vanilli.
Carmen was very unhappy while on the road. She missed her family tremendously! Despite her dislike for touring, Carmenwas asked to perform as a featured artist for the Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkornwith the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra in Thailand conducted byShardad Rohani (Yanni’s Musical Conductor. She performed songs by artist such as Barbara Streisand, Whitney Houston and The Righteous Brothers to name a few. By this time in her career, she had given birth to her son Christopher London Carter. Being a single parent, Carmen vacillated for weeks trying to decide whether or not she should go. But with the wise input of her parents and friends, Carmen confidently accepted this grand invitation. “It was hard making that decision. But my parents and best friend Rozalind Hampton and her Husband Brunsen took good care of Chris that week that I was away…I remember crying on stage and telling the Thai audience (In English) that I could only express how much I missed my son with tears.” When Carmen returned to the United States, she knew that her touring days were over.
She began aggressively pursuing studio work landing jobs working with producers, writers and directors such as Steven Spielberg, John Williams, Hans Zimmer, Mark Isham, Thomas Carter, , Mark Mancina, David Foster, Diane Warren and Alan Silvestri, to name a few. Carmen attributes her success as a session singer to her versatility. “When I was younger, I would listen to Chaka Khan, Karen Carpenter, Phyllis Hyman, Carol King, Phoebe Snow, Rickie Lee Jones, Johnny Mathis, Chicago, Tina Turner etc….I grew up in a household that loved music…all genres of music…We would even listen to Spanish music but I never knew who the artist were or what they were saying. But it didn’t matter….It felt good!”
Carmen’s career was thriving but her personal life wasn’t. She dated but she was very picky about who she allowed to share she and her sons space. After weeding out the less desirable, she hit the jackpot and found her winner in Las Vegas! His Name? Lynn Alonzo Watson, son of Lynn Alonzo Watson Sr and Margery Watson who like her parents have been married for more than half a century. It was love at first sight!“ I believe in marriage and family, loyalty and commitment. It was love a first site….I married Mr. Right.” They also gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Sierra Ne Shelle Watson. Lynn Alonzo Watsonis the love of her life. He is a wonderful husband, fantastic father, delightful son in law and a true gentleman.
Carmen’s musical career has been undeniable eventful and exciting. Carmen’svocal style covers almost every genre of musical entertainment. Carmenis truly unique, making her easy to find and hard to miss. From radio to television, the big screen to small screen and all in between, Carmen delivers with a style that mesmerizes and captivates her listeners. Whether she’s singing background vocals on recordings with: Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Michael Buble, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Barbara Streisand, J Randy Newman, John Tesh, Phil Collins, Peabo Bryson, George Howard, Brandy, Hiroshima, Aaron Nevel, or taking the lead on the platinum plus Mickey Unrapped CD for Disney Records or her own Billboard chart topping single Always on Arista Records, instantly its obvious that Carmen Carter’s dynamic energy is unmistakably taking the music industry to a new level of perfection.
Not just limited to the studio, Carmen’ intoxicatingly soulful style has elevated the live performances of such artists as, John Legend, Common,Aloe Blacc,Nelly Furtado,Queen Latifah, Lionel Richie, Dionne Warwick,Patti Labelle, Chaka Khan, Chante Moore, Diana Ross, TLC, Ray Charles, Don Henley, Vonda Shepard, The Whispers, and Tamia to a higher level of musical sophistication.
Spanning the entertainment globe, Carmen Carterrenders convincing on and off camera contributions on the big screen with her performances in: The Nutty Professor II, The Fockers, The Comebacks, Deja Vu, John Q, Big Mamma’s House, Men of Honor, Civil Action, The Preacher’s Wife, How Stella Got Her Groove Back, Waiting To Exhale, Jungle Fever, Women in Red, Ghosts of Mississippi, wag The Dog, Speed, Happy Feet, Polar Express, Brother Bear, Shrek, Toy Story, A Bug’s Life, Antz, James and The Giant Peach, The Road To El Dorado, and Mighty Joe Young.
Television audiences were also treated to the plethora of musical talents displayed by Ms. Carter on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Ellen, The Jay Leno Show, The Arsenio Hall Show, The David Letterman Show and Good Morning America.She has blanketed the television screen with unforgettable performances on Arrested Development, South Park, King of the Hill, Ally McBeal, Friends, Married with Children, Family Matters, ProudFamily, Boston Common, Boston Legal, Boston Public and also main title work on Moesha, Sister Sister, Touched by an Angel, Hangin’ with Mr. Cooper, Strong Medicine, The Strip Hercules, Teachers Pet, and PB & J Otterto name a few.
No need to touch that dial during a station break because of it’s a Reebok, Toyota, Kmart, McDonald’s, Burger King, Jack in The Box, Glade, Barbie, Coca Cola or Michelob commercial then Ms. Carterhas probably cleverly delivered the product to you as only she can.
So, from riveting soundtracks, such as: The Lion King 1.5, The Lion King: Simba’s Pride, The Prince of Egypt, Amistad and Sarafina, to television’s BET on Jazz, Frank Sinatra’s 80th Anniversary, A Tribute To Elizabeth Taylor and The Quincy Jones 50th Anniversary Celebration, it’s clear to see that Carmen Carter is a feminine musical force packing a powerful punch. And just when it seems that she’s been there and done that, she comes back at you with something even more sultry and soulful…her live jazz performance. Totally amazing is how to describe the way she skillfully commands your attention through her incredible dynamic range and then cradles you gently with a musical kiss and inviting smile. Carmen Carterdelivers melodic holidays to your ear, gift wrapped in her soul.
Carmen currently can be seen and or heard performing in the 2019 Super Bowl Llll halftime show with Maroon 5, BET’s “American Soul” which depicts the life of Soul Trains host Don Cornelius, Toy Story 4 and the Lion King...
Her story continues…