South Shore songstress Amanda Carr pens a tune that is the pride of Boston.By Ann Luongo | Photography by Tommy Colbert
A few years back, when musical maven Amanda Carr was going through some hard times in her personal life, including the loss of her job, she made a conscious decision not to let the events own her. It was at this pivotal moment that the seasoned singer/songwriter and musician felt inspired to write a song that would reflect her feeling of positivity. The result was an anthem that would speak to the strength, spirit and history of her beloved Boston.
“I felt that Boston needed an anthem,” says Carr. “A song about how Boston became the city it is today; something that would celebrate the DNA of our city and our spirit.”
She called up her longtime friend, Jon Finn, a musician who has been a guest performer with the Boston Pops, to talk about her idea. She also reached out to her friend, actor Michael Chiklis, known for his role on the police drama “The Shield.” With input from Finn and Chiklis, Carr took the music running through her head and turned it into “Strong: The Boston Anthem.”
“I felt like a conduit,” says Carr. “I was obsessed. I was hyper-inspired. It felt like every word came at once.” The team enlisted the vocal talents of Charlie Farren (of the Joe Perry Project) and the song made its debut in 2014, to much acclaim. The song has since been embraced by Boston sports enthusiasts and many others who identify with its inspirational and rousing lyrics that celebrate the city’s resilience and pride. Carr hopes that the anthem will ingrain itself in the hearts and minds of her fellow Bostonians. Just this past September, Carr and Farren performed “The Boston Anthem” at the opening of the brand new Warrior Arena for the Boston Bruins at Boston Landing.
Music has been Carr’s passion her whole life and her career has been a winding road. At just 14 years old, she already had paying nightclub gigs. As a young singer and musician, she focused on the rock/pop genre, developing her talent at Boston hot spots. It was a time in her life that she looks back on fondly. In fact, she still has some of the napkins on which fans wrote notes to her, telling her how much they enjoyed her performances. Raised by jazz and big-band musicians, the Hingham native was taught to appreciate different musical styles. “Now and then I’d fill in for my mom with her jazz band,” says Carr. “It really woke me up. I thought, ‘These lyrics are so hip and this music is so cool.’ I started to record some jazz and I was getting gigs right away.”
In 1988, Carr met her fiancé, Terry Jackson, who was traveling with musician Thomas Dolby. Shortly after that, she moved to Los Angeles to support Jackson’s career in the industry. Sadly, in 1991, Jackson died in a plane crash along with country singer Reba McEntire’s entourage and two crew members, when their plane went down on a mountain near the U.S.-Mexico border. Shaken by the tragedy, Carr returned to Boston and began working on herself and her own music career.
Now a multi-styled vocalist and pianist, Carr has performed internationally and has accomplished more than she has ever dreamed. Over the last three decades she has performed with legends like James Montgomery, and has been a guest vocalist for The Boston Pops, The Glenn Miller Orchestra, The Harry James Band and many others. Paying homage to her parents’ love of big band music, she also founded the American Big Band Preservation Society, a 501c3 nonprofit that preserves the essence of American musical heritage.
Carr was featured twice in the Wall Street Journal and she was featured in Nat Hentoff’s bestseller “At the Jazz Band Ball: 60 Years on the Jazz Scene.” She recorded a big band album, entitled, “Common Thread,” which debuted at the top of many Jazz bestseller charts and in the Top 50 on the Billboard chart and most recently, she was nominated for Jazz Artist of the Year for Boston Music Awards 2016.
These days, when she isn’t recording, writing, performing or working her side gig as a realtor for a small boutique broker, Carr and her partner, Matt Bernier, perform at private events (mattyandamanda.com). “I’ve been very fortunate,” says Carr. “My cache of experiences is where my wealth lies.”
Click here to listen to or get the free download of “Strong: The Boston Anthem.”