The Kennedy Center

Marc Cary


Pianist, producer/composer Marc Cary was born in New York City in 1967 but raised in Chocolate City. His parents are musician/artists: his father is a percussionist, his mother a cellist/painter who also crafts jewelry. Cary studied cello, trumpet and drums, a natural progression for a member of a musical family. ôMy great-grandmother, Mae York Smith,ö Cary Says, ôused to play piano in theaters accompanying silent movies. She used to play duets with Eubie Blake where they would switch up left hand/right hand. My motherÆs father is a trumpet player, first cousin to Cootie Williams and played in his band down South.ö

Cary dropped out of high school at sixteen and slid into the Go-Go highlife. However, his descent was turned around by two guardian angels. ôEleanor Oxendine in Maryland, one of my first rudimentary teachers, taught me how to read and gave me access to her studio,ö he says. ôShe eventually employed me to teach the kids. At RAP Inc. (a DC community activist center), I met Daniel Witt; he hipped me to piano. I developed a real appreciation for it.ö

Cary eventually quit the Go-Go scene and passed his exam to enter the Duke Ellington School for the Arts. Finishing up post-grad studies with local heroes, John Malachi and Calvin Jones, Cary caught a bus to New York City, where he hooked up with Beaver Harris and Mickey Bass, who schooled and guided him though the underground. Soon he toured with Arthur TaylorÆs Wailers and Betty Carter, from whom he claims he learned everything about life. As a soloist as well as a sideman with Taylor, Carter, and Abbey Lincoln, Cary has consistently impressed critics and jazz audiences.

His group, Indigenous People, mines the rich history of African diasporic music, from African folk melodies, Brazilian and Caribbean grooves to American jazz, funk and go-go rhythms.

Watch Past Performances

Video 10/30/2015: Marc Cary's Indigenous People

Stop by the Millennium Stage to hear a rousing set by Marc Cary's Indigenous People. Continue into the Eisenhower Theater (ticket purchase required) for a dance and jazz performance by Ronald K. Brown’s EVIDENCE, a dance company, and Jason Moran and The Bandwagon. After the 7 p.m. Eisenhower Theater performance, join us back in the Grand Foyer for late night go-go dancing and drinks with a second performance by Marc Cary and co.

Marc Cary