Carlehr Swanson

Carlehr Swanson, a young Black woman, smiles into the camera. She is seated on a grey box against a white background, with her legs crossed and leans forward to the camera, with her chin resting on her left hand. She wears a sparkly silver dress with her hair half up into a bun on top of her head and the rest loose around her shoulders.


Carlehr Swanson (vocalist, pianist, speaker) is a 1st year Ph.D. student at the University of Virginia. She is a graduate of George Mason University and the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami with degrees in Jazz Vocal Performance.

Before college, Carlehr accompanied and directed multiple church choirs. She credits this experience as significantly influencing her musicality. Upon entering college, she realized the absence of gospel music in higher education. Consequently, she co-founded and directed the Frost Gospel Ensemble. Her research interests include gospel music, Black studies, women's studies, and civic engagement. Giving back to her community and connecting with others has been an important theme in Carlehr's life, as she brings people together to serve a greater good. She is the founder and director of the organization, "Music is Unity," where she takes music performances to people who may not experience them otherwise. Throughout this year, she has planned and performed more than a dozen virtual events for the community.

In 2017, Carlehr was 3rd Runner-Up in the Miss Virginia Organization and was named the People's Choice. She continues sharing her social impact initiative, "Music is Unity," as she is set to compete in the Miss Virginia Competition in June 2022 as Miss Blueridge. Carlehr's career highlights include performances with Shelia Jordan, The Manhattan Transfer, and The New York Voices. Carlehr's greatest dream is to leave every place better than she found it.