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Carla Harris to play Carnegie Hall for Catholic school benefit

The award-winning author, singer, and pioneering banking executive will lead a Christmas-themed concert supporting her alma mater and parish school.

Nationally known Black Catholic motivational speaker, author, and influencer Carla A. Harris has announced plans to play Carnegie Hall this fall in efforts to benefit Catholic schools in New York City and Jacksonville, Florida.

The gospel concert on Monday, November 20, entitled “Carla A. Harris & Friends,” will feature the banker-turned-songstress performing some of her most popular tunes, including hits from her holiday albums “Carla’s First Christmas” and “O This is Christmas!”.

Harris, by day a professional banker in New York, made history in 2013 when she became the first Black female executive on Wall Street, serving as a vice chairman at Morgan Stanley. She was also the first African American to join the bank’s management committee in 1987. Last year, the Wall Street Journal called her “one of the most powerful Black women on Wall Street.”

Harris credits much of her success to her Catholic school upbringing, which began at Guardian Catholic School in Jacksonville. She later attended Bishop Kenny High School before matriculating to the Ivy League, where she graduated from Harvard with a degree in economics and her MBA.

In 1994, she joined historic St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church in Harlem, where she became a member of the Gospelites choir and engaged in a unique second career as a professional singer. Under her own label, Nema Amen Records, Harris released her first album in 2000 and five years later was playing Carnegie Hall for the first time. She has since released three more gospel albums and performed at the Hall several times since.

“Singing is my form of praise,” she said upon receiving Harvard’s Alumni Achieve Award in 2018.

“To give somebody hope through what you’re singing is a big deal.”

Carla A. Harris singing at Carnegie Hall. (University of Notre Dame)

Harris is also an award-winning author, with her books “Expect to Win” (also the title of one of her most popular songs), “Strategize to Win,” and “Lead to Win” sharing her experiences in business and how to achieve success. She also communicates her business prowess to her nearly 200,000 social media followers.

Harris has received various honors during her career, including this year’s Lifetime Achievement Award from Crain’s for her work in diversity and inclusion, the 2022 Leading Woman Award, and the 2021 Laetare Medal from the University of Notre Dame—said to be the most prestigious award for American Catholics. She was also appointed by President Barack Obama to lead the National Women’s Business Council.

Having resigned her role as vice chairman for wealth management at Morgan Stanley in 2021, Harris currently serves as a senior client advisor and still makes time to serve at St. Charles Borromeo.

Harris’ show at Carnegie in November will begin at 7pm ET and tickets start at $75. They can be purchased online on the Carnegie Hall website, in person at the box office, or over the phone at (212) 247-7800.

Proceeds from the show, hosted by a fellow Black Catholic in Emmy Award-winning journalist David Ushery, will benefit St. Charles Borromeo School and Bishop Kenny High. Additional artists performing with Harris will be revealed at a later date.

"I'll be sharing the performance announcement very soon," she told fans on social media. 

Nate Tinner-Williams is co-founder and editor of Black Catholic Messenger.

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