Joyce Garrett has enjoyed a long, honored career as a music educator and choral director. A native of Kinston, North Carolina, she was educated at Bennett College and later earned the Master of Music degree from The Catholic University in Washington, DC. She was awarded honorary doctorate degrees by her Alma Mata Bennett College, and by Wesley Virginia Wesleyan College.
Joyce Garrett began her teaching career in 1966 at Langley Jr. High School in Washington, DC. During her five-year career at Langley, she revived the school’s Glee Club, presented several musical productions, and was often complimented for her teaching methods and her students’ performances.
After five years at Langley, Garrett was assigned to Eastern High School, where she found a great wealth of talented students. She continued teaching at Eastern, and directing the choir until her retirement; then continued leading the choir as a director and consultant until the mid-2000’s.
Her Eastern choirs won many honors and awards for their excellence in singing, winning the silver trophy in Vienna, Austria at the prestigious International Youth and Music Festival in 1988; and performing in Normandy, France for the 50th Anniversary of D-Day in 1994. Her transformative work at Eastern High School was featured in articles in the Reader’s Digest, People and Washingtonian magazines; the Washington Post; CBS Sunday Morning; The Today Show on NBC; and numerous other media platforms.
In 2005, she founded the Washington Youth Choir, a city-wide choir whose mission is to fulfill the educational needs of DC youth, using music as a vehicle to impart choral values, promote higher education, and instill the belief that excellence can be achieved despite disadvantages.
Concurrent with teaching at Eastern, Garrett also directed the United States Naval Academy Gospel Choir from 1990 through 2006, appearing across the country as ambassadors for the Academy and recruiting minority candidates. She has directed choirs at Alfred Street Baptist Church in Alexandria, VA since 1980; and currently serves as its Director of Music and Worship Arts and directs the Trinity Choir.
As a church musician, Garrett, more recently, received the Roland Carter “Living Legend Church Music Award,” presented at the Hampton University Centennial Ministers’ Conference.
She is married to James Garrett and has two adult children, Rodney Garrett and Melanie Garrett Messer.