S.C. Arts Awards: Charlton Singleton

2021 Recipient Feature Series

As the day nears for the 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards, The Hub is focusing on this year’s recipients: seven receiving the South Carolina Governor’s Awards for the Arts and two receiving the Jean Laney Harris Folk Heritage Award, which are managed jointly by the South Carolina Arts Commission and McKissick Museum at the University of South Carolina.

Charlton Singleton

Artist Category | Governor’s Awards for the Arts

A native of Awendaw, Charlton Singleton began his musical studies at the age of 3 on the piano. He would then go 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. Currently, he is the previous artistic director 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. Singleton is also the organist and choir director at St. Patrick Catholic Church in Charleston. In November of 2015 he was named the inaugural artist in residence at the recently renovated Gaillard Center in downtown Charleston.

As a performer, Charlton leads his own ensembles that vary in size and style. He has performed in France, Great Britain, Scotland, Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Norway, The Netherlands, as well as many great cities throughout the U.S. He is a member of Grammy Award-winning band Ranky Tanky, a quintet that interprets the sounds of Gullah from the Southeast coast of the U.S. In addition to performing, he is in demand as a speaker, composer, and arranger. He has also shared the stage with and/or worked with some of most talented entertainers in the world, including Jimmy Heath, Slide Hampton, Houston Person, Darius Rucker, Fred Wesley, and Cyrus Chestnut to name a few.

Over the past several years, Charlton has emerged as the face of jazz performance in the Lowcountry. With his touring ensemble he models the classic quintet formats of jazz greats Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, and Clark Terry with his unique brand of southern charm and Lowcountry inspired composition.


Charlton Singleton consistently impacts our state; the culture, the music and the people. As a mentioned in the opening of this letter, Charlton is a light in the community and is a luminary for us all. He is an outstanding person and defines the criteria of this recognition.

Sterling DeVries
Director of Education
Charleston Gaillard Center

The South Carolina Arts Awards stream live Monday, May 24, 2021. The festivities begin at 6 p.m. on SouthCarolinaArts.com. There is no in-person event in 2021. The virtual ceremony will be available on demand from the S.C. Arts Commission YouTube Channel after the livestream presentation.

Meet the Recipients

Use these links to read the long-form bios of the other 2021 South Carolina Arts Awards recipients.