Carol Cymbala, wife of Pastor Jim Cymbala, was born in Chicago, Illinois. A pastor’s daughter, she was one of six siblings, and very early on she displayed a special gift for music. When Carol was six years old, her family relocated to New York City, where years later her father, the Rev. Clair Hutchins, helped to found The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Carol and Pastor Cymbala were longtime friends. They eventually married and, before long, felt a call to ministry. In the early 1970s they took over leadership of The Brooklyn Tabernacle, a congregation that numbered less than twenty people at the time.
In the mid-1970s, Carol began the choir with a group of nine people that began to grow and soon became a vital part of the worship services of The Brooklyn Tabernacle. Always sensitive in trying to select songs that would glorify the Lord, Carol searched continually for appropriate material for the choir. It was just a matter of time before she began to write songs herself, though she had no formal training in music.
Today The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir comprises 280 voices representing people from all walks of life. Carol has written hundreds of songs, 51 of them recorded throughout her 23-album recording history. Her songs have been translated into many languages, carrying the choir’s sound and the gospel message to people all over the world. The choir’s work under Carol’s direction has won five Dove Awards and six Grammy Awards. The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir has been featured at concerts at Radio City Music Hall, Madison Square Garden, and Carnegie Hall. The choir also had the honor of singing at the Billy Graham Crusades in Central Park and in Flushing Meadows Park, in New York City. (The latter, held in June 2005, was Billy Graham’s last crusade in New York City.)
Pastor Cymbala and Carol have been blessed with three grown children and six grandchildren, including the most recent addition, little Levi, who was adopted from Ethiopia.