In 1983, encouraged by her mentor, Jack DeJohnette, Carrington moved to New York, where she worked with Stan Getz, James Moody, Lester Bowie, Pharoah Sanders, Cassandra Wilson, David Sanborn, and others.
In the late 1980s she relocated to Los Angeles, where she gained recognition on late night TV as the house drummer for "The Arsenio Hall Show", then again in the late 1990s as the drummer on the late night TV show "VIBE", hosted by Sinbad.
The year 1988 proved to be a watershed for Carrington. She moved to Los Angeles, where she released her major label debut, Real Life Story, on Verve Forecast, and then became the drummer in the house band for the Arsenio Hall Show. The album, co-produced by Carrington and Robert Irving, featured an array of styles and guest artists, including guitarist/vocalist Carlos Santana, jazz vocalist Dianne Reeves, blues guitarist John Scofield, and Wayne Shorter. In an interview with Down Beat, Carrington, who also sings on the album, stressed that she did not want to be restricted to certain instruments or musical styles. "Some people like to use stereotypes. They might want to label me as a jazz drummer because I had been associated with more traditional kinds of jazz for so long," she said. "So they hear my album and they're surprised that there's no traditional, swinging jazz on it. Well, all I got to say is, pigeonholes are for pigeons." The album was nominated for a Grammy.
Following the release of Real Life Story, Carrington moved behind the scenes and began to make her mark as a producer. She produced one track on Reeves's Art and Survival and all of That Day. In addition to playing drums on the albums, she also produced all or part of albums released by Danish pop artists Monique, Stig Rossen, and the Doky Bros. "Drummers bring something unique to the production world, which tends to be dominated by keyboard players," Carrington told the All Access website. "They have a great sense of structure, of how a song should flow."
Carrington has continued to tour and record with various musicians, most notably vocalist Cassandra Wilson and keyboardist Herbie Hancock, whose 2002 Future 2 Future tour she helped conceptualize. She also contributed both musically and conceptually to Hancock's Grammy-winning 1998 album Gershwin's World. In the late 1990s, following the cancellation of the Arsenio Hall Show, she became the in-house drummer for the late-night television show Vibe, hosted by comedian Sinbad.
Carrington released her second solo effort, Jazz Is a Spirit, on the German ACT label in 2002. "Its pacing of ethereal ballads, moody mid-tempo ruminations and bristling up-tempo compositions reveal Carrington as a masterful producer who knows how to maximize an engaging listening experience," noted Down Beat in 2002. Her third solo album, Structure, was released by the High Note label in the spring of 2004.
In an interview with United Press International, Carrington described her belief that her versatility stems from her early jazz training. "Because of my jazz background I'm more equipped to do a variety of things," she said. "There is a longer history and tradition you have to learn. It is technically more difficult. There are a lot of people who started playing jazz and can't move into the simpler arenas--pop, rock or funk--because they don't have enough respect for it, to really learn how it is done." Carrington, on the other hand, would like to have her hands in every pot. "I love reggae, I love straightahead jazz, I love funk," she told Down Beat. "Shoot, I wanna play in a heavy metal band! I wanna do it all."
Carrington has been on tour several times as a backing drummer for other musicians, and has toured the United States and Europe as a bandleader performing her own music. In May 2007 she appeared at one of the largest free jazz festivals in the states, the Atlanta Jazz Festival.
In recent years, Carrington has concentrated her efforts on writing and producing her own work, including Real Life Story (her 1989 Grammy-nominated debut CD), Jazz is a Spirit (2002), and Structure (2004). In 1996 she collaborated with Peabo Bryson on "Always Reach For Your Dreams," a song commissioned for the 1996 Olympic Games.
Carrington has prepared a new album, More To Say.... As of March 2009 it is scheduled for release on May 5, 2009. Most of the 15 tracks on the CD are written or co-written by Carrington.
Terri Lyne Carrington (Born on August 4, 1965), in Medford, MA; daughter of Sonny Carrington (a saxophonist and president of the Boston Jazz Society). Education: Attended Berklee School of Music, 1976-77. She is a jazz drummer, composer, and record producer. She has played with jazz legends Dizzy Gillespie, Stan Getz, Clark Terry, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Sample, Al Jarreau, and many more. She has toured with each of Hancock's musical configurations (from electric to acoustic) between 1997 and 2007.
In 2007 she was appointed professor at her alma mater, Berklee College of Music, which is also where she received an honorary doctorate in 2003.
At 7, Carrington was given a set of drums which had belonged to her grandfather, Matt Carrington, who had played with Fats Waller and Chu Berry. After studying privately for three years, she played her first major performance at the Wichita Jazz Festival with Clark Terry. At age 11 she received a full scholarship to Berklee College of Music. At 12 years old she was profiled on the PBS kids' biography program Rebop.
At Berklee College of Music she played with leading musicians such as Kevin Eubanks, Donald Harrison, Greg Osby and others. She also studied under master drum instructor Alan Dawson and made a private recording entitled, TLC and Friends, with Kenny Barron, Buster Williams, George Coleman and her father, Sonny Carrington, before turning 17.
Throughout high school she traveled across the country doing clinics at various schools and colleges.