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The Carr Center Kicks Off 30th Anniversary Year of Visual and Performing Arts Events in Detroit

Oliver Ragsdale, Jr. (Photo Courtesy of The Carr Center)

The Carr Center, the premiere Black arts educational resource and presenter based in the City of Detroit, has announced its 30th anniversary year of exciting events. Under the direction of Oliver Ragsdale, Jr., President and CEO; and Artistic Director, three-time Grammy Award-winning jazz musician and educator Terri Lyne Carrington. The Carr Center’s schedule begins in October and includes its first LIVE concert event in more than a year. The season also marks the opening of the Center’s brand-new space, The Carr Center Performance Studio, located in the Detroit cultural center’s historic Park Shelton.

The Carr Center’s commitment to the arts and to the communities it serves has been evident even throughout the pandemic, during which it produced and presented many new virtual programs. Among a varied schedule for 2020-2021 are several events that were previously canceled and/or postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As The Carr Center opens its doors to in-person live events, the safety of the patrons, artists, and staff are of utmost importance. The Carr Center has adopted several policies to keep everyone safe. LIVE events from The Carr Center will require proof of vaccination. Mask wearing and social distancing will also be observed. For further details go to

A return to LIVE events is important, says Ragsdale. “Art happens when there is communication and engagement between artists and audience,” explains Ragsdale. “You can be standing in front of a piece of art, or you can sit and watch a film on television, but when you are in a theater and you feel that energy emanating from the stage reach out and touch you, when your own in-person energy and excitement flows back to the artist, that is when communication happens… that is when the magic happens.”

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Highlights of The Carr Center’s 30th Anniversary Season include:

  • Jazz on Film” kicks off the anniversary’s season. In this new five-part “Film @ The Carr” series hosted by Juanita Anderson, Carr Center Resident Artist, and a noted film director, is joined by Guest Curator Marcus Turner, a Clio-winning, Emmy nominated film director. “Jazz on Film” begins Tuesday, October 5, and continues weekly through November 2. Each screening is followed by a discussion with the hosts and special guests. The schedule is as follows:

Set I: Jazz as Colors and Images

Tuesday, October 5, 7:30 p.m.

Film: What Seems To Be The Problem?, produced and directed by Richard E. “Shades” Dunbar (2004, USA/France)

Set 2: Symbiosis  

Tuesday, October 12, 7:30 p.m.

Highlighted film: Begone Dull Care, directed by William McLaren and Evelyn Lambart (1949, Canada)

Set 3: Classic Black

Thursday, October 19, 7:30 p.m.

Films: Alice Coltrane: A Love Supreme, produced and directed by Stan Lathan; (1970, USA)

Max and Abbey, produced and directed by Stan Lathan (1970, USA)

Set 4: Jazz as Muse: Improvisation

Tuesday, October 26, 7:30 p.m.

Films: Oscar, directed by Marie-Josée Saint-Pierre (2016, Canada)

That’s My Jazz, directed by Ben Proudfoot (2019, USA)

Set 5: Jazz as Muse in Narrative Film

Tuesday, November 2, 7:30 p.m.

Film: Songs For My Right Side, a film by Jeffrey C. Wray and

Tama Hamilton-Wray (USA, 2019)

  • The Carr Center Saturday Arts Academy kicks off on Saturday, October 9, in partnership with the College of Creative Studies and Mosaic Youth Theatre of Detroit. During the two-hour weekly educational program, which runs for 30 weeks, until June 2022, The Carr Center offers FREE dance and instrumental music instruction to middle school students from throughout the region.
  • The Carr Center Gallery Presents… “Multifaceted: A retrospective of work by Jason Phillips,” a mid-career retrospective of works by the prolific Detroit artist. This show will be on exhibit inside the Carr Center’s renovated gallery space at Park Shelton and online in the Carr Virtual Center Gallery, beginning Saturday, October 16.
  • The Gathering Orchestra Nonet in Residency at Detroit School of Arts (DSA) brings together nine of the current orchestra’s musicians for a weeklong professional development/educational/performance residency that runs from November 1 through November 6. The Gathering Orchestra is a two-year fellowship program under the artistic direction of Rodney Whitaker, Carr Center Resident Artist, a former member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, and Director of Jazz Studies at Michigan State University. The residency includes workshops, a community Jam Session for young musicians, and a special “school matinee” performance on Friday, November 5, streaming live from the Ford Theater in DSA. The ensemble will also perform on the Season Spectacular.
Terri Lyne Carrington (Photo Courtesy of The Carr Center)
  • A Season Spectacular,” a star-studded performance set for Saturday, November 6, will take place at The Ford Theater inside Detroit School of Arts, 123 Selden Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48201. The Center’s first LIVE music presentation since the COVID-19 pandemic closed venues in spring of 2020, the show will feature performances by Terri Lyne Carrington, jazz and pop keyboardist Patrice Rushen, pianist and arranger Kevin Harris, vocalist Jazzmeia Horn, harpist Brandee Younger and the Center’s own  Gathering Orchestra Nonet directed by Rodney Whitaker. There will also be a few surprise appearances.
  • Coming on Saturday, February 26, 2022, will be “To Stevie With Love,” a tribute concert to the genius of Stevie Wonder, that imagines the music of the Maestro through the lens of the New York jazz scene, with musical direction by Terri Lyne Carrington and featuring arrangements by pianist Kevin Harris. Other guest artists will be announced. This concert is rescheduled from its original March 2020 date.
  • For April 2022, Jazz Appreciation Month, The Carr Center will present “The Great Jazz Women of Detroit: Alice Coltrane, Dorothy Ashby, and Betty Carter,” a program celebrating the contributions of three African American women from Detroit and their role in the development of jazz, with musical direction by Terri Lyne Carrington. Special guests will be vocalist Jazzmeia Horn and harpist Brandee Younger. The performance will be on April 9, 2022.
  • In May 2022, a newly commissioned work by keyboardist Patrice Rushen celebrating The Carr Center’s 30th Anniversary will highlight the May 16-21 Gathering Orchestra Residency. The new work in three movements (for the three decades) will be performed on Saturday, May 21, at 7:30 p.m.

In addition, The Carr Center will complete its renovation within the historic Park Shelton. The space includes a first-floor 2,000 square-foot art gallery and a 3,000 square-foot renovation of the original hotel ballroom built in the 1927 building. The space will serve as a performance and rehearsal studio. The grand opening celebration is planned for early 2022. Administrative offices remain headquartered at the Hannan Center in the midtown area of Detroit.


Originally incorporated as The Arts League of Michigan, Inc., The Carr Center has become one of the leading organizations to present African American arts, in all disciplines, in the country. The center is named for the late Virgil Carr, an arts advocate and community leader, who was the former president and CEO of The United Way of Detroit. The center’s core programs include The Carr Center Artists’ Hub, which is the home to local and regional artists as well as special guest artist residencies; The Carr Center Presents … series of performance, film and visual arts events for the public, and The Carr Center Arts Academy, an educational umbrella which includes the Saturday Arts Academy for students grades 6 – 8 and the competitive Summer Dance Intensive program designed by Tony Award-winning dancer/choreographer and  Emmy Award-winning actress/director, Debbie Allen.

The Academy also hosts professional development programs for early-career artists, including The Gathering Orchestra, and the Independent Scholars Program for visual artists. As such, The Carr Center is a key element in the fabric of life in Detroit.

Through program and audience development partnerships with the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, University Musical Society of the University of Michigan, Detroit Opera House, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Michigan State University, Wayne State University, and Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, The Carr Center has created a variety of innovative artistic initiatives focused on increasing cultural participation for artists and audiences. For more about The Carr Center, click here.

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