Music professor’s career goes full-circle

By Michelle Cordonnier

October 11, 2012

In 2009, Missouri Western hired a new vocal music professor who was capable of introducing musicals to the performance portfolio; on another note, Western hired professional opera singer, Dr. Susan Carter. Carter has come full-circle in her career. She began as a teacher of music, moved onto a career as an opera singer, decided to become a pilot, and then at the age of 50, went back to her roots as an educator and earned her doctorate in 2009. Carter began her career teaching music as she taught at the University of Texas at Dallas for nine years. While teaching, she began performing at small venues. Carter was also raising two children, while teaching and performing. One daughter became a musician like her mother; the other, a pilot who later taught her mother to fly. Carter moved to Germany and other areas of Europe and began a 20-year career of singing professionally. Carter performed throughout much of the world, touring and singing on Broadway and many major stages. “I enjoyed performing on the big stage, wearing a $3,000 dress, having a full orchestra behind me and thinking I cannot believe I am here,” Carter said. After years of having a lucrative career as a professional opera singer, Carter decided to change gears for a while. She began taking flying lessons from her pilot daughter, and soon earned her own wings. Carter worked as a corporate pilot for Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and flew corporate planes for other companies as well. At the age of 50, Carter decided it was time to do something new, so she enrolled at Texas Tech University and began taking classes to earn her doctorate. After earning her doctorate in music vocals in 2009, Carter looked around to see where she would like to teach operas and musicals. Being familiar with the Kansas City area, she applied for the position at Western when she learned they were looking for a new professor of vocal music. “I came to MWSU, because I wanted to teach students about musicals,” Carter said. “I was told MWSU was adding musical performance to their stage acts, and that is why I am here". Shortly after Carter’s arrival, Potter Hall began performances of musicals, such as "Phantom" and "Little Shop of Horrors" Art professor Eric Fuson, who works with Carter, said that he enjoys working with her. "Carter is a talented person," Fusion said. "She brings a lot of operatic experience to MWSU." Carter and Fusion have combined forces and are currently working on the upcoming "Hansel and Gretel" performance that MWSU art, animation and music students are putting together. “It’s been fun to combine forces,” Fusion said. “We work well together, we make each other look good." The upcoming performance of "Hansel and Gretel" is a collaborative effort that will offer musicality, acting, animation and art. Carter works as a stage director, the music director and hosts an opera workshop. Carter plans on working with students on many more musicals, and operatic performances for as long as she works for Western. Western music students Ian Fast and Kaitlyn Christian said they enjoyed working with Carter and Fuson in "Hansel and Gretel." “It’s been a lot of fun,” Christian said.