JT Carter Founding Member of The Crests

JT Carter 

The Crests were an American doo wop group, formed by bass vocalist J. T. Carter In the mid-1950s. Their most popular song, “16 Candles”, rose to #2 on the Billboard hot 100 chart in 1959, selling over one million copies, earning a Gold Disc. The interracial group had three African American members (one female), one Puerto Rican, and one Italian American.

Founded by J.T. Carter, the group included Talmadge Gough, Harold Torres and Patricia Vandross (sister of R&B singer Luther Vandross). Carter selected vocalist Johnny Mastrangelo (shortened to Johnny Maestro) as lead vocalist for the group. One fateful day in 1956, while singing on a New York subway, “The Crests” were discovered! The wife of the famous orchestra leader, Al Brown handed the group a card and told them to call her husband. Brown connected the group with Joyce Records and they recorded their first songs, My Juanita and Sweetest One. Maestro’s vocal quality & style along with J.T.’s application of the group’s vocal harmonies & choreography gave “The Crests” their unique look and sound which became instantly recognizable and they became a jukebox favorite of national teen audiences. This magical combination plus great song selections and recordings with dance-easy beats, made for charted hits.

The group had several Top 40 Hits in the late 1950s and early 1960s on Coed Records, including the #2 hit, “16 Candles”, “Six Nights a Week”, “The Angels Listened In”, “A Year Ago Tonight”, “Step By Step” and “Trouble in Paradise.” They also charted with “Sweetest One” (Joyce Records) in 1957. In the late 1950s the group performed on several national teen dance television shows, including American Bandstand and The Dick Clark Show. Points of Interest *1958 Patricia Vandross left the group to finish her education *1961Johnny Maestro left hoping to further his career as a solo Artist. *1961 The Crests recorded a new single, “Little Miracles”, with Tony Middleton singing lead. Talmadge Gough left the group *1962 James Ancrum then took over the lead, recording “Guilty” (Selma Records) with J.T. Carter, Harold Torres, Gary “Kit” Lewis In 1965 J.T. and Mel Tillison were signed with Decca Records and chosen to be the potential Artists of the year to come. J.T. Carter wrote and recorded “Closer to Your Heart” and “The Wild Ones” originally written for Jordan Christopher’s’ Group “The Wild Ones”. Internal problems prevented Decca from securing a world wide release on these recordings and the company folded, leaving all Artists in limbo.

Decca: 31785 Artist Carter, J.T. Label Decca: 31785 Format: 45A side: Closer To Your Heart B side: The Wild Ones Year: 1965 · Both Sides Produced By Fred Bailin · Arranged By Artie Butler · Written By Jay Carter & Mike Schwatz · Flip Written By Jay Carter & Fred Bailin.

Few Artists are fortunate to be remembered years after their rise to fame, but J.T.Carter continued to bring joy to generations of new and old fans all through the years, carrying on the traditional sound of the original “Crests”. In 1973 J.T. met his wife Leona, an accomplished classical pianist / composer. She played a major role in J.T.’s life endeavors. Leona Carter managed, performed, and created all of The Crest’s musical arrangements for over 30 years. Musical Director ~ Keyboardist ~ Vocalist The Crests –
C. Thomas’ Drifters -The Five Satins 1985 – Alan Freed Memorial Concert – Salem, Ohio (Requested by Alan Freed’s Family) Produced & arranged by J.T + Leona Carter Dynasty Music Productions, Inc. Sixteen Candles “Memories of Gold Show” The Crests with A Special Tribute to Sam Cooke & Elvis 1987 – Reunion of “The Original Crests” & Johnny Peekskill, N.Y. 1 st time on stage together in 30 Years! Brooklyn Bridge, Del Satins, Carters’ Sixteen Candles Memories of Gold Show Produced by J.T + Leona Carter Dynasty Music Productions, Inc. From the 1980’s on J.T. has worked with Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, Five Satins, Randy & The Rainbows, Bobby Vali (Frankie Vali’s brother) and many more. Recordings 1990 – 2010 Johnny invited J.T. to join him & The Brooklyn Bridge to re-record some of their Greatest Hits. Recorded an album with The Bluenotes and sang all the background harmonies on Teddy Pendergrass’s CD.

J.T. Carter has appeared on multiple TV and Radio Shows. Carter has had a new level of recognition in recent times. On November 12, 2013, he was recognized on the Pennsylvania State House Floor by Speaker of the House, The Honorable Sam Smith and State Representative Rosemary M. Brown for a lifetime in music and as the first African American to form an interracial vocal group in the United States. In 2013 and 2015 JT performed for Cousin Brucie at his “1st and 3rd Annual Palisades Park Reunion’s” with Ronnie Spector, Neil Sedaka, Lesley Gore, Tony Orlando, Gary US Bonds, Tommy James, Terry King, The Capris and Bobby Lewis. 13,000 attended and it was broadcast “live” on SiriusXM Radio. 2.5 million Tuned in.  In January 2014 Carter interviewed with Joe Franklin on the Bloomberg Radio network. Carter is still performing throughout the US and Canada, at age 74. As of 2012, publicist Erik A. Kroll, is accredited with Carter’s recent popularity and the music of The Crests reborn. In 2014, Carter began production on American Classics, The Stars, Music and Cars, a TV show featuring the music and cars of the 1950s and 1960s, produced by Emmy Awards winner Ashley Russo. In March of 2015 Carter was accepted as a member in The Record Academy aka the Grammys.

On July 16th, 2016 after reforming JT Carter with Richard Merritt and Ken Boulden aka KennyB the group appeared at the Highlander auditorium in Upland, California to a sold out show and standing ovations.

 March 2018 at age 77, Carter appeared on the PBS Music special “Doo Wop Generations”, which was aired nationally. TJ Lubinsty, Bowser and Little Anthony hosted the event. The event was structured to feature new young, Doo wop talent and had Peter Lemongello Jr in the role of the famed vocalist Johnny Maestro. Over 20 million tuned in.


Bookings for J.T. Carter contact Erik at:
eakroll@eakrollproductions.com or at: 313-220-4757


~ Awards and Recognition’s ~

In 1984 John Hughes teen film, Sixteen Candles, took its title from The Crests’ song, which was re-recorded by The Stray Cats for the Sixteen Candles soundtrack.

The Crests were inducted into the “United in Group Harmony Association (UGHA) Hall of Fame” in 2000. The Crests were then inducted into “The Vocal Group Hall of Fame” in 2004.

In 2005 JT Carter was inducted into the Doo Woop Hall of Fame of America where a ceremony was held in Boston, MA.

On May 9, 2012, Johnny Maestro was honored by the House of Representatives of the United States of America. Congressman Jerrold Nadler of New York.

On November 12th, 2013 Carter was recognized on The Pennsylvania State House Floor by Speaker of the House Sam Smith and Rep Rosemary Brown for his lifetime in the music industry and the 1st African American to create an interracial vocal group.

In 2014 JT Carter received a lifetime achievement award from the Lehigh Valley Music Awards in the Lehigh Valley of Pennsylvania presented by the Greater Lehigh Valley Music Association.

Carter was a featured guest performer in June of 2015 for Canadian media mogul, Moses Znaimer and his Zoomer Media Group, for the 16th anniversary of Znaimers, Idea City event in Toronto.

On March 22nd, 2016 Ernest Wright, JT Carter of The Crests and Charlie Thomas of The Drifters were recognized by the Governor of the great state of Delaware Jack Markell along with state Senate and Congress in a concurrent resolution number 53, paying tribute to their over 60 years in American Music. The Governor issued a certificate naming the above “Rock-n-Roll Royalty”.
(148th General Assemble, State of Delaware Senate Concurrent Resolution No: 53, March 22nd, 2016), (Sate of Delaware, Office of the Governor Tribute No: 160201)

To this day millions of people throughout the world still listen to The Crest’s and they receive FM/Internet airplay from thousands of station.

Media Relations Contact:
EA Kroll

Via US Mail:
JT Carter C/O EA Kroll Productions
P.O. Box 128
Shawnee, PA. 18356


JT Carter, Ernest Wright and Charlie Thomas in the office of the Governor of Delaware

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Canadian Media Mogul Moses Znaimer of Zoomer Media, JT Carter & Miss Universe Canada 2015, Idea City (Toronto)
JT presented Moses with an autographed “16 Candles” framed record


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