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Carla Harris

She’s a Harvard-graduated Wall Street banker, but her true delight is singing Gospel.

Carla A. Harris used to slip away from Morgan Stanley to perform Harlem’s Apollo Theater amateur night, writes Kevin Roose for the New York Times.

She is one of the most senior African-American female executives on Wall Street. She also sings in two choirs, has released three solo albums and has performed packed shows at Carnegie Hall.

“I always like to say that my success is not about who I am, but whose I am,” the 48-year-old Harris told Roose, pointing to the sky during a recent interview at Morgan Stanley where she “began her career in mergers and acquisitions, then worked her way up the equity capital markets ranks. She now runs the emerging manager platform at Morgan Stanley, where she advises asset managers owned by women and members of minorities,” writes Roose:

She began singing as a 9-year-old in her Catholic elementary school’s talent show. She grew up on a steady diet of soul and R&B, but when she arrived at Harvard, she joined the Radcliffe Choral Society, an all-female classical choir. That forced her out of her comfort zone, she said.

After Harvard, Ms. Harris did a short stint at Booz Allen Hamilton, a consulting firm, and got her M.B.A. at Harvard Business School before joining Morgan Stanley in 1987.

At first, she said, she kept her passion for music hidden from her banker colleagues. On Wednesday nights, she would sneak out from the bank to go to Harlem, where she would watch amateur night performances at the Apollo Theater before heading back on the subway to the bank.

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