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Gospel, According To Maggie

Garnier sings at a recent Community concert in Teachers College cafeteria.

Anyone who's been to the Human Resources office at Teachers College knows Maggie Garnier as the quiet, gracious woman who greets visitors and helps them negotiate the paperwork that marks their time as members of the TC Community from beginning to end. But to really know Maggie, you have to hear her sing.

Garnier has been writing and singing gospel, jazz and contemporary music since she began singing in church at age four. She started appearing in concerts with a family band, Nu Creation Singers, when she was just seven years old. Now a solo act, she put out a gospel single EP, "He Loves You," in December and is working on a full album. "My main goal is to get the message of the Good News out there," she says.

Garnier was born in Brooklyn, where her mother raised her, her sister and two brothers all by herself. "She's from Haiti," Garnier says, "and she had to deal with learning the language and trying to raise us herself in a strange place. She made a lot of sacrifices."

Garnier says her older brothers, Taylor and Joubert, have acted as father figures for her, even walking her down the aisle at her wedding in 1999. Garnier credits Taylor with "pushing me to work hard in all I do, especially music. He was the driving force behind all of this."

Along the way, she also became interested in Human Resource management, earning a degree in the field from Baruch College and coming to work at TC in 1998. "My life really started here," she says. "My wedding, my pregnancies, everything was here. There are a lot of wonderful people here, a lot of people that I look up to, appreciate and respect."

Garnier admits that a husband and three children have made her musical career a bit more challenging. "Family members are praying for me, that's why I'm not crazy yet," she says with a laugh. "I have a lot of support from my husband. A lot of times I have to rehearse when the kids are asleep." She also uses her daily hour-and-a-half commute to and from Brooklyn to her advantage. "You can see me on the train writing and listening. It's very helpful."

In December, Garnier released her new single in conjunction with her first solo concert, at Prospect Heights High School. "There was a good turnout from TC," she says. "People came from all over." Along with her faith, she says, it's those glimpses of how music can connect people that keep her going. "When I see a tear or some emotional moment, I know that I'm reaching out and that the job is getting done," she said after a recent lunch-time performance at the TC cafeteria. "When I hear something like -'Thank you, I needed to hear that' or -'That was the right song at the right time,' things like that push me to work harder."

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