By Dean Poling
The Valdosta Daily Times
Brad Carter’s most recent journey started with tremors in his right index finger and thumb.
These tremors caused alarm because Carter had already traveled so far.
Growing up in Macon, he attended Valdosta State University, regularly played Valdosta and Remerton clubs as a musician through the 1990s and early 2000s. In 2003, at the age of 29, Carter realized that if he was ever to become a well-known actor or musician, he must travel to California.
Ten years ago, Carter made his move, began establishing a career. Seven years ago, he noticed the tremors worsening in his right hand — a concerning development for anyone, but even more so for a person wanting to make a living playing guitar and performing on camera.
He was diagnosed with “essential tremor,” a degenerative disorder within the central nervous system, with symptoms that can resemble Parkinson’s disease.
In recent months, as the tremors have become apparent in his left hand, Carter underwent a brain procedure to correct his condition. He was awake for six of the procedure’s seven hours. To pass the time, at one point, he played his handmade Kurt Schoen guitar, constructed from a 1930s shotgun-shell crate.
The medical team filmed the process. The video of Carter playing guitar went viral. Millions witnessed him playing guitar during surgery on his brain.
With help from this visibility, Carter has raised thousands of dollars to record and produce a CD of his music.
But his journey with “essential tremor” is not over. He faces surgery again as he plans to record his music before the possibility of his time running out.
“No matter what,” Carter says, “I’m going to record this album.”
Brad Carter hails from Macon. In 1994, he moved to Valdosta, majoring in art at Valdosta State University. While he studied art in the classroom, he played guitar and sang songs in area clubs. After graduating in 1997, he stayed in Valdosta, performing as a muscian.
He was often simply billed as Brad. More often, joined by Kim Harrell, they were billed as Brad & Kim, and were regulars on the acoustic circuit especially in Remerton clubs of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Carter performed with the one-time band Pre-Fab Deluxe. He worked with Valdosta musicians such as Ben Owens and drummer Steve Satterwhite.
For a brief period, he was a morning DJ, but working long nights, performing in clubs, was not conducive to being a clear voice on the air by 6 a.m.
By 2003, he was ready for something else. He had interest in playing music, but he also wanted work as an actor.
“I knew if I was going to try to become an actor, I needed to do it before it got too late,” Carter says. “I was 29, and it hit I was wasting my potential. I had been sucked into that black hole of playing bars and just existing.”
He packed his belongings and left his native Georgia behind.
Knowing no one, having no job prospects in sight, but a willingness to give it a try, Brad Carter moved to Studio City, Calif.