(Biography Courtesy of Sweetwater Sound)
At a young age, Don Carr showed a distinct interest in and aptitude for music that was fostered by his family, despite their non-musical background. With the help of friends and neighbors, he learned enough on the guitar to permanently whet his appetite for more. Enrolling in the school band program in his hometown of Henderson, Kentucky, Don played the alto saxophone and eventually also percussion. These instruments, combined with his study of guitar, molded his musical knowledge and understanding.
Guitar continued to be Don’s main musical focus in high school and by age 15 he had formed a band of like-minded musicians that wrote and recorded their own music. His band, Troubadour, recorded three of their original songs in a then-state-of-the-art, 16-track recording studio. One of those songs won a regional album contest, where the buyers of the album voted for their favorite song. This made Troubadour instantly popular and allowed them to perform at festivals, clubs, dances, and other venues, and also made Don an in-demand guitarist for other bands regionally. His future was cemented.
Ever on the search for more musical knowledge, Don enrolled in college and majored in classical guitar and jazz guitar at North Texas State University (now the University of Northern Texas) and Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee. Nashville became his 29-year home and the wellspring of his professional career in music. Integrating into the local music scene, he collaborated with other musicians writing, recording, and performing a wide variety of original music and also found success as a sideman and session guitarist.
A number of his original music projects came to the brink of “making it,” but it was not to be. However, the mix of original music and sideman proved to be a potent one, providing him with the skills to perform and record with diverse artists such as David Slater, Danielle Alexander, Shelley West, Girls Next Door, Earl Thomas Conlee, and Tommy Tutone. Don then took a full-time position as guitarist for Marie Osmond in 1990, performing over 120 live shows, recording in the Osmond Studios, and appearing on a dozen television shows, including appearing in the host band for the Children’s Miracle Network Telethon.
In 1991, Don joined the legendary Oak Ridge Boys as lead guitarist. The Oaks performed 150 live shows per year, touring extensively across the United States and Canada, playing at every possible venue ranging from the Georgia Dome to 50,000-seat festivals, from arenas to theaters, fairs to churches, and even private parties. This schedule also included command performances at the White House for Presidents George HW Bush and George W Bush, the former even commissioning the Oaks to perform at his 80th birthday celebration and library dedication ceremony. Looking back on his 23 years with the Oak Ridge Boys, Don remarks, “Throw a dart at a map of the U.S. and wherever it hits, I’ve played there.”
Don made over 100 television appearances with the Oaks on various networks, including the successful Oak Ridge Boys Live From Las Vegas, which ran for five seasons on The Nashville Network. As a member of the LFLV house band, he played with dozens of artists including JoDee Messina, Sarah Evans, Colin Raye, BJ Thomas, and Tim McGraw. He also played on several albums with the Oaks, such as Colors, From the Heart, A Gospel Journey, and 2013’s Live. All of the current and former members of the Oak Ridge Boys were inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame and made members of the famed Grand Ole Opry.
Despite constant touring, Don managed to maintain a foothold in the Nashville recording industry, playing guitar on countless independent albums, publishing demos, jingles, soundtracks, and more, in a wide range of styles and genres. His steady stream of spot-on renditions of songs for a popular karaoke series further sharpened his diverse musical skill set.
In May of 2014, Don came to work for Sweetwater Sound, where he uses his unique insight to create content, including educational and how-to articles, and product reviews and demonstration videos. He teaches class and group instruction, and serves as the first-call session guitarist for Sweetwater Studios.