The tenor and music professor, Walter Carringer, was born in Knoxville, Tennessee, and grew up in Murphy, North Carolina. As a young man during World War II, he spent two and a half years in the United States Army, from 1943 to 1946. It was during his time in the military that his military supervisors noticed his vocal talent and arranged for him to appear in USO shows and bond selling tours. He was urged by those who heard his tenor voice to pursue a solo career. After leaving the military, he did just that—enrolling at Columbia University in New York City.
Walter Carringer spent three years at Columbia, completing a B.S. in music in 1950. During this time he was the first student to appear in solo recital at Columbia’s concert hall, McMillan Theatre. His senior year, he auditioned for Robert Shaw, director of the famous Robert Shaw Chorale, and was immediately hired. Carringer was granted special permission by Columbia to participate in a three-week tour as a soloist with the Robert Shaw Chorale. For the next three and a half years, Carringer continued to sing with Robert Shaw's group.
The demand for Walter Carringer as a solo artist grew during his years with the Robert Shaw Chorale, and in 1953, the time had come for him to embark on an independent solo career. The guest appearances that soon followed included New York’s Carnegie Hall, and in many cities and towns throughout the country. He performed in full evening recitals, chamber music and school assembly programs, sacred recitals, oratorio, symphony and “pops” orchestra concerts, radio, and television engagements. He sang in every USA state with the exceptions of Hawaii and Nevada. He performed in New York’s Town Hall more than thirty times.
During his career, Walter Carringer sang more than twelve times in Carnegie Hall. It was in one of these performances that he appeared with Joan Sutherland and Marilyn Horne in the premier USA. performance of Rossini’s “Sermiramide.” He also presented the first USA. performances of Lukas Foss’ A Parable of Death, Intimations of Immortality by Finzi, Lelio by Berlioz (in Pittsburgh and New York City with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conducted by William Steinberg), Dmitri Shostakovich’s Song of the Forests and George Frideric Handel’s The Triumph of Time and Truth. He also performed every major oratorio during his career.
During his career, Walter Carringer appeared with almost all major orchestras in the USA and Canada. He also participated in many festivals - American Opera Society (NY), Bethlehem Bach Festival (PA), Bach Festival of Winter Park (FL), Brevard (NC), Cabrillo, (CA), Lewisohn Stadium (NY), Marlboro (VT), Brattleboro (VT), and Tanglewood (MA). He sung under Pablo Casals in New York and at the Casals Festival in Puerto Rico. During the Mozart Bicentenary, he performed in over a hundred performances of the Mozart Requiem. In 1960, He made his European debut in a London recital.
Walter Carringer was the recipient, twice, of the Martha Baird Rockefeller Foundation award and was a finalist in the national competition held by the American Federation of Music Clubs. He also received, twice, the Orpheus Award given by Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia for “significant and lasting contributions to the cause of music in America.”
In 1964, Walter Carringer joined the music faculty at Northwestern University as an Associate Professor of Voice. After 24 years with the University, he became professor emeritus in 1987. Some years after his retirement, Carringer returned to North Carolina.