Raising the Volume:

Marcus Amaker and Charlton Singleton featured in first Charleston Gaillard Center’s production on music, race, art and activism

The Charleston Gaillard Center presents Raising the Volume, a conversation on music, race, art, activism, and more curated by Artists-in-Residence, Marcus Amaker and Charlton Singleton . In Raising the Volume, Charleston’s Poet Laureate Amaker and Grammy Award winner Singleton explore issues through open, honest dialogue. The series begins with Amaker and Singleton examining their own experiences with racism as artists. Each subsequent conversation is led by either Amaker or Singleton having in-depth conversations with local Black leaders, educators, business owners, and artists.

Each video will also be accompanied by a lesson plan for both middle and high school students. The Gaillard Center’s on-staff educator will facilitate cross-school virtual meetings for students in different areas to discuss the content of the interviews. Lesson plans will soon be freely available on gaillardcenter.org.

Filmed and produced by the Charleston Gaillard Center, each of the 30-45 minute videos will be available on gaillardcenter.org, Facebook, and YouTube. The first three episodes were released together on Wednesday, October 28, 2020. An additional seven episodes will air at a later date.

Currently available to view are:

Episode I - A conversation on music, racism, art, activism, and more with Marcus Amaker & Charlton Singleton.

Episode II - A conversation on Charleston activism, past and present with former Municipal Court Judge for the City of Charleston for 33 years, Judge Arthur McFarland .

Episode III - A conversation on awareness and action with the Executive Director of YWCA, LaVanda Brown.

Additional episodes will feature:

Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell, Founder of Closing the Gap in Healthcare

Dr. Karen Chandler, Director of the Graduate Certificate in Arts and Cultural Management at the College of Charleston

Andrea Davis, Founder and Owner of Motherland Essentials

Herb Frazier, Charleston-based author

The Charleston Gaillard Center remains committed to enriching our community, whether through music, visual representation, or the written word. We stand up and will speak out in the face of any injustice. We stand against racism and hatred. Black Lives Matter.


Marcus Amaker was named Charleston, SC’s first Poet Laureate in 2016. He’s also the award-winning graphic designer of a national music journal, an accomplished electronic musician, and a mentor to hundreds of students. His poetry has been presented by The Kennedy Center, and has appeared in Departures magazine, Chicago Tribune, PBS News Hour, and several other publications. In 2019, he won a Governor’s Arts award in South Carolina. His poetry has been studied in classrooms and has been interpreted for ballet, jazz, modern dance, opera and theater. Marcus has recorded three albums with Grammy Award winning drummer and producer Quentin E. Baxter of Ranky Tanky.

His latest book is “The Birth of All Things,” from Free Verse Press. He’s currently the Gaillard Center’s artist-in-residence.


A native of Awendaw, Charlton Singleton began his musical studies at the age of three on the piano. He went on to study the organ, violin, cello, and the trumpet throughout elementary, middle and high school. In 1994, he received a Bachelor of Arts in Music Performance from South Carolina State University. Since that time, he has taught music at the elementary, middle, and high school levels, as well as being an adjunct faculty member at the College of Charleston.

In 2008 he co-founded and became the Artistic Director and Conductor of the Charleston Jazz Orchestra, an 18-piece jazz ensemble of some of the finest professional musicians in the Southeast and the resident big band in Charleston. Mr. Singleton is also the organist and choir director at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Charleston, SC. In November of 2016 he was named the inaugural Artist in Residence at the recently renovated Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston. He remained in this position until July 2019; at that point he was named Artist in Residence Emeritus. In this position he continues to lead the Summer Youth Jazz Orchestra Camp as well as lead the “Jazz Through the Ages” assembly, which attracts a capacity crowd of students at the Gaillard Center.

As a performer, Charlton leads his own ensembles that vary in size and style. He has performed in France, Great Britain, Scotland, Spain, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, The Netherlands, as well as many great cities throughout the United States. He is a founding member of Ranky Tanky. The group is a quintet that interprets the sounds of Gullah from the Southeast Coast of the United States. In 2017 Ranky Tanky reached the top of the Billboard, iTunes, and Amazon Contemporary Jazz charts with their self-titled debut recording. In 2019 they accomplished the same feat with the release of their sophomore effort, “Good Time,” which recently won the 2020 Grammy Award for “Best Regional Roots Music Album” In addition to performing, he is in demand as a speaker, clinician, composer, and arranger.

He has also shared the stage with and/or worked with some of most talented entertainers in the world, including Bobby McFerrin, Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Houston Person, Darius Rucker, Fred Wesley, and Cyrus Chestnut. Outside of music and entertainment, he and his wife MaryJo are the proud parents of Shalamar and D’Marcus, as well as their pets - Sassy, Jango, Mojo, Kota Bear, Pumpkin, and Ginger.

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