Carl Bright has been a composer, singer, and pianist since boyhood. He was an adjunct professor of gospel music at the University of Pennsylvania, where he led a 110-voice choir, and went on to serve as a vocal director and composer for gospel performers around the country, working on nine albums for the likes of the St. James Presbyterian Church Mass Choir and the Lucas Sisters, as well as his own groups. Today, he is also the assistant pastor and worship leader at downtown’s Plymouth Congregational Church and—along with his wife, Guinevere, and daughter, Genesis—performs spirituals during The Sound of Charleston concerts at Circular Congregational Church.
Composing his first song: I was around 12 years old and music was pretty much all I did. I had a piano and three tape recorders, so I would record myself playing and singing. Then I would go into the bathroom and play the tape back, recording harmonies on the second recorder. Then I’d do it again with the third.
Connecting with the past: So many slaves came through the port here, and being part of the Sound of Charleston has brought that to life. Acquiring this knowledge and performing songs like “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” have been a real blessing.
On vocal & music directing: I’ve traveled all over the U.S., not because I can sing but because I know how to arrange music that reaches the audience and can exhort to the crowd about the song.
Latest project: In March, I brought Carl Bright Unlimited—the group I performed with 25 years ago that included my wife, Guin, a phenomenal singer—back together for a concert. We were privileged to record The Bright Family Live: I Am Healed to a packed house. The CD will be released in July on iTunes.
Hear Him Live: Carl Bright & Family are performing spirituals in the Sound of Charleston concerts on June 1 and 8 at Circular Congregational Church. Learn more at soundofcharleston.com.