Over the last thirteen years, the songs of Kurt Carr have become essential to Sunday morning church services. His sophisticated praise tunes such as “In the Sanctuary,” “For Every Mountain,” and “Peace and Favor Rest on Us” are choir staples.
Carr was born in Hartford, CT to a non-church going family, and made the decision to attend church when he was 13 years old. His teenage musical heroes were gospel greats Bishop Walter Hawkins and Pastor Andrae Crouch. “I had a natural ear for music, and my mother saw my interest in gospel, so she bought me a Walter Hawkins album,” Carr says. “It literally changed my life. I listened to it every single day for a year or two, and I taught myself how to play piano from those songs.”
After graduating from the University of Connecticut with a degree in Fine Arts, Carr was mentored by gospel pianists such as Richard Smallwood and the Rev. James Cleveland. He began working with Cleveland in 1986 and served as his musical director until Cleveland’s death in 1991.
Meanwhile, Carr put together his own ensemble, The Kurt Carr Singers, who released their debut CD Together in 1991. The album was noted for his classical meets Pentecostal arrangement of the hymn “Holy, Holy, Holy.” Carr was soon chosen as the Creative Director of Music at West Angeles Church of God In Christ in Los Angeles, CA pastored by Bishop Charles E. Blake. Carr served in this position for over 15 years.
With a keen ear for corporate worship, millions continue to sing Carr’s “In the Sanctuary” across the globe every week, in nine different languages. “After the success of that song, I knew God had called my music ministry to reach people of all races and all people who have an open ear for God’s message,” says Carr. His last CD, Just the Beginning, features the Top Ten 2008 modern gospel iconic hit “Peace and Favor Rest On Us.”
“God has called me to preserve the music of the church,” Carr says, matter-of-factly. “There are ministers who are called to go into the world and evangelize it. I feel that I am called to perpetuate the music of the church so that there’s substance to feed seasoned saints, and new converts. That summarizes my calling.”
Carr also shares his gift of music with other artists, producing the chart-topping albums for Bishop Paul Morton, I’m Still Standing and for Tramaine Hawkins, I Never Lost My Praise. In addition to producing, Carr wrote the BMI award winning song, “The Presence Of The Lord Is Here,” for Byron Cage. This song was also featured as the recurring theme song throughout the SONY Pictures movie "First Sunday" starring Ice Cube, Katt Williams, and Tracy Morgan. Kurt also served as a music consultant for the film. His previous film credits include writing, producing, and performing the song “God’s Got It All in Control,” for the FOX Searchlight movie “Kingdom Come,” starring LL Cool J, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Whoopie Goldberg. For the SONY Pictures movie, “Not Easily Broken,” written by Bishop T.D. Jakes, Kurt wrote and produced the song “You’re In The Right Place.”
Live version of the Kurt Carr Classic
Kurt Carr at his best