Marlowe Carruth

Composer, teacher, singer, pianist

United States of America



Marlowe Carruth, born 1958 in North Carolina, is a classically trained pianist who—after a lifetime of playing, singing, and teaching piano—has finally turned her attention to composing. She released her debut EP in 2016, entitled Eternal Light. It consists of original, soul-lifting piano melodies accompanied by equally inspirational orchestration.

Carruth began picking out melodies on the piano at the age of three. She studied classical piano under the late Gene Featherstone in her hometown of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and went on to study under the late James Clyburn at Meredith College in Raleigh. She earned a Bachelor of Music degree in piano performance and music education and was honored with the title of Presser Scholar by the Meredith music faculty in 1980, an award given to the most outstanding senior music major.

Daughter of the late Cherry Folger—orchestrator for Terrytunes Cartoons and first female trumpeter to play with the North Carolina Symphony—Carruth’s desire to compose was birthed at a very young age. Her talented mother died of cancer when Carruth was barely four years old. “Exploring my mother’s compositions was a way to feel connected to her and learn from her musicianship,” says Carruth. “I have always wanted to pick up her legacy”.

While Carruth adores Debussy and Chopin, she also enjoys the more modern cinematic music of John Williams. Carruth was especially inspired to start composing when she overheard a Tim Janis CD in a gift shop at the beach. “I felt my spirit immediately lifted,” describes Carruth. That moment began a great desire to write contemporary instrumental music in a way that she felt expressed the love of God and the beauty of His creation.

Marlowe Carruth resides in Raleigh, NC, with her husband. She has two grown children and is enjoying being a grandmother. Music continues to run in the family.




What does music mean to you personally?

For me, music is a way to experience and communicate my deepest feelings in a way that words fail me. I cannot begin to imagine my life without music. It is the hallmark of special memories and deeply emotional moments. It changes me on the inside. Most importantly for me, music is a meaningful way to express my love relationship with the Lord.

Do you agree that music is all about fantasy?

Certainly we must tap into our imagination in order to be creative. At the same time however, music is rooted in math, so it can also be very calculated. When I am writing a piece, I am certainly using my imagination to try and convey the message, but I am also using music theory to turn that message into music , whether I am conscious of that or not. Science now understands that being a musician integrates both sides of our brains.

If you were not a professional musician, what would you have been?

I would have been a research scientist of some sort. I love learning about the infinite miraculous details of everything in nature, our bodies, and the universe!

The classical music audience is getting old, are you worried about the future?

Good question, but no, I am not worried. Classical music has stood the test of time and will continue to do so. I must say that our North Carolina Symphony does an amazing job of community service to expose school children to orchestral classical music. I know that orchestra members all over the world do this. We just need to keep exposing the younger generation and help them see how much classical music influences their lives in ways they don’t even realize.

What do you envision the role of music to be in the 21st century? Do you see that there is a transformation of this role?

While the styles of music continue to change and evolve, I don’t see the “role” of music ever changing. We may watch movies now instead of having a string quartet over for an evening of entertainment, but try watching a movie without the music! Music is such an integral part of the entire human race. It is used for every occasion in every culture and I don’t believe that will ever change!

Do you think that the musician today needs to be more creative? What is the role of creativity in the music process for you?

I think “more creative” is immeasurable really. Musical tastes are so subjective. What I think may be my least creative song, might become an audience favorite. Conversely, what I might feel is most creative song may not appeal to as many people. I do think composers are constantly challenged with “how can I do something different?” We must continue to challenge ourselves and keep growing. Even the greatest classical composers’ music evolved with the exploration of new sounds, new instruments, and new techniques. My greatest challenge is deciding what “not” to do because the possibilities are endless. I try to keep in mind the story I am trying to tell. That helps give me direction.

Do you think we as musicians can do something to attract the younger generation to music concerts? How would you do this?

The biggest way to attract audiences of any age, in my opinion, is by connecting with them in a personal way and inviting audience participation. I think that is one reason house concerts are gaining in popularity. Using our North Carolina symphony again as an example, they perform concerts geared for young people in which they mix up traditional classical with say, the music from Star Wars. They will have the movie characters come out in costume to interact with the kids and have pictures taken with them, etc. Our local piano teachers association shares creative recital ideas with one another to make recitals more than just walking up and playing a song. It’s fun to integrate other art forms such as poetry, art, dance, storytelling, etc and use the musical performance as part of the entire creative presentation. Bringing professional musicians into the classroom or inviting them to play on recitals with the students is a great idea too. For example, one time I brought in a jazz artist when my students were each performing a jazz piece on the recital. Letting the audience ask questions of the artist is always very fun and engaging!

Tell us about your creative process.

More often than not, a musical idea will come to me as an expression of something I have experienced through my personal devotional time, life or nature. I will go to the piano and start expressing how I hear it. I record that motif or melody either on my phone or by writing it down. It will take me some time to develop that idea and make it a complete piece because I do not always have large chunks of time. (It was important for me to learn that you don’t have to wait to start writing when you have a lot of time. Just do what you can do, when you can do it!) Once I have the whole song written and notated by hand, then I notate it in a computer program so I can have a hard copy that I can play and share.

What is your favorite piece (written by you) and how did you start working on it?

Although I am the most pleased as a whole with the music video and recording of A Shepherd’s Wonder, my favorite composition I have written to date is Cosmos. I especially love the B section. I was inspired to start the opening section when I heard on the news that the universe was still expanding and there are more known galaxies in the universe than grains of sand on the earth. When things are so big that I cannot get my mind wrapped around them, it usually works its way into a song because I need a way to express what my mind cannot contain! I always heard this piece with orchestration as I was writing it, so it was lots of fun to work with my engineer in creating the orchestral tracks on the recording.

Can you give some advice for young people who want to discover classical music for themselves?

This generation is the luckiest in history because they have thousands of live performances of classical music at their fingertips on YouTube and other digital platforms! Of course, nothing is better than being in the audience of a live performance, no matter what style of music is being performed. Attending any pre-lectures that describe the pieces you will hear increases your listening enjoyment tremendously! People might be surprised at how many FREE concerts are available through schools, colleges, city programs etc. You can check your local music teacher groups or music stores to see when students will be performing on recitals and attend those for free as well. This may inspire you to start taking lessons!

Do you think about the audience when composing?

Yes and No. I am definitely trying to take the audience on a journey with me, but at the same time, it has to be to my own liking. Keeping things simple is challenging for me. Sometimes less is more, so in that sense I do think about the audience because they seem to need and want that these days.

What projects are coming up? Do you experiment in your projects?

Yes! I experiment all the time and can actually drive myself a little crazy with that! I love SOOOO many different styles of music so it’s hard for me to actually settle on one style completely. Usually by the time I finish one type of project, I am ready to try something new. I love experimenting with collaborations, orchestrations, new sounds, etc. I have an original solo piano single, “A New Morning”, releasing on Feb.22. Then in March, I have a new minimalist style track coming out on a Sonder House compilation album called Recollections Vol. 2 with 20+ composers from around the world! I also have two different collaborations coming up this summer that I am excited about and I hope to fit in recording a solo piano album this year. As Rachmaninoff said, “Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.”