I’d like to a share a story about a man who made a huge difference in my life, his battle with cancer, and the group that honors his memory. When I was a freshman in college, a friend encouraged me to join the University Singers. I sang in both the high school chorus and the church choir, but never had a great director or teacher to inspire me or develop my gift. I hadn’t planned on pursuing it in college; I was there to study religion. But, peer pressure being what it is, I went. It was at that first rehearsal that I met the new director Todd Owen Carter. He was an excellent director, a perfectionist I would later learn, and a wonderful, caring man. He encouraged me to audition for a solo, which I got and which led me to another amazing mentor in my life, Dr. Alexa Schlimmer, who became my voice teacher, friend, and bridesmaid. Because of Daddy Todd, I added a music and theater double minor, I gained confidence and skills I didn’t have, and I was gifted a better understanding of the blessing God had given me. He was truly an amazing man.
Despite the love and compassion that would make him a natural father, he and his wife were unable to have children. During my sophomore year, they began the tedious process of adoption. By my junior year, they were approved, had a nursery ready to go and a car seat waiting for the phone call. It wasn’t too long after Daddy Todd shared the thrilling news that he would soon be a daddy, that he learned and shared the devastating news that he had cancer. Originally it was diagnosed as non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, later they discovered it was Hodgkins. He began aggressive treatments. He fought bravely for almost two years before the cancer took him from us. Needless to say, it was a very difficult time for me and all of us who loved him dearly. The choirs sang at his funeral. It was gut-wrenching and I can honestly say I have never sounded so utterly horrible or been so ok with that.
In reflection, I am comforted by three things. First, Alexa and I were able to visit him in the hospital near the end. We didn’t stay long, but I was able to hold his hand and whisper, “Daddy Todd,” in his ear one last time. He gasped for air and his body fought to let me know he heard. In the hallway, his wife told us that was the most responsive he had been in days. While he never had a child of his own, he knew that I was his child and I loved him dearly.
Second, his memory and, I believe, his gifts are alive in our Little Monkey. Our firstborn’s name was set, but our second son was in need of a middle name and we could think of nothing better than Owen. Little Monkey has recently come into his voice, piecing together 5 and 6 word sentences. He has also begun to sing to himself. When Owen sings, I am reminded of Todd, his love of music, and his compassion for others.
Third, there is an all-male a Capella group at High Point University named the TOCcatatones in his honor. In 2000, Todd was interested in starting one, since he was a member of the UNC Clefhangers. He took a group of guys to hear them and they were hooked. In 2001, five guys banned together, while Todd was fighting for his life, to form the group. Coach was one of those five. And I even spent a night or two banging out notes on a piano to help them. Their claim to fame was winning the Talent Show that first year, singing Billy Joel’s “For the Longest Time.” Now the group is the premier all-male a Capella group of High Point University. Coach was the first alum of the group, making me the first woman to marry one of the guys (now they have groupies that make t-shirts and dream of marrying them), and our boys the first boys who have the opportunity to be legacy members of the group. Little Monkey has already appeared on stage with them at their 10th Anniversary Concert. (Here’s a link to Coach’s comments about Todd at that concert: Honoring Todd)
They perform almost every genre of music from current (One Republic’s “Apologize”) to contemporary Christian (Casting Crown’s “The Voice of Truth”) to classic (John Mellencamp’s “Jack and Diane”). They are an amazing group of guys who perpetuate the dream of Daddy Todd and honor his legacy of music education. Here two more videos and links to find lots more:
Here’s one of their real music videos!
The first soloist is Dr. Josh, one of the original five. Yes, he’s a Dr. now!
Like what you hear:
- Join them and us for a free concert Friday, October 26 @ 7:30 in the Rearden Theater!
- Find all their videos on YouTube TtonesPRGuy
- Like them on FB at Toccatatones
- Friend them on FB at HPU Toccatatones