CLEARWATER — Tina Harrison died early Saturday in a Tampa crash that authorities say was caused by a drunken driver.
The accident ended a promising singing career and sent shock waves through the Tampa Bay jazz community, a longtime friend says.
"We're really suffering," said Al Chisholm. "We lost one of God's finest."
Known to local jazz aficionados as "Tina Lad'e," Harrison, 39, was the lead vocalist for the On Que Players, a jazz group founded and led by Chisholm.
Harrison was stopped at a red light around 1:30 a.m. when a 25-year-old Tampa man under the influence of alcohol and drugs slammed into her car, killing her and injuring her passenger, LaChan Renae Knowles, 47, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
Harrison, the daughter of a Baptist minister, began singing in the church choir, according to her Web site. The jazz, neo-soul and R&B singer and songwriter was a classically trained pianist.
The Clearwater resident had just finished recording a solo single she wrote called Lock You Inside. She wrote, sang and arranged the music of several songs on the On Que Players' new CD, titled In the Moment.
"Her heart and soul was in every song. She gave you 150 percent every performance," Chisholm said.
Chisholm, 57, was with Harrison and Knowles at the Fox jazz club on Kennedy Boulevard Saturday night before the accident. They were there to support another singer who was performing. Chisholm said he believes the women were on their way home when the accident happened.
The On Que Players have canceled all of their shows this week and are planning a tribute concert for Harrison.
Chisholm met Harrison about 15 years ago at New Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Clearwater, where Harrison's father is the pastor and Harrison was the choir director. Chisholm said Harrison was an "excellent mother, team player and friend."
"This was a person that never said no," Chisholm said. "She was always reaching out to help people."
According to the accident report, Harrison and Knowles were on Dale Mabry Highway, stopped at a red light at Mapledale Drive, when Ryan Matthew Carll came up from behind in a 2006 Nissan Titan pickup truck. Harrison was driving Knowles' 1999 Lexus RX 300, with Knowles in the passenger seat, Chisholm said.
Carll merged into Harrison's lane at about 70 mph and crashed into the women's car, hurling it into the intersection, the FHP said. The car flipped and the roof struck a traffic signal support post.
Harrison was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Tampa, where she was pronounced dead. Knowles, who represented Harrison through her company, Fresh Concepts Business Management, was injured. She was taken to St. Joseph's with serious injuries, but has since improved, according to a hospital spokeswoman.
Officers said Carll, of Cedaridge Drive in Tampa, was impaired from "alcohol, opiates, benzodiaphine and cannabis" at the time of the crash. He was arrested at St. Joseph's Hospital, where he was taken with minor injuries, and charged with DUI manslaughter and vehicular homicide. He is being held without bail at Tampa's Orient Road Jail.
According to records from the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, Carll has been arrested several times since 2000 on charges that include aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of cocaine and marijuana, battery on a law enforcement officer, driving under the influence and reckless driving. Jail records list him as unemployed.
Harrison is survived by her parents, the Rev. LeRoy and Hattie Pearl Howard; a brother, Trevor Howard; a son, Michael Harrison; two daughters, LaShay and Briana Harrison; and a granddaughter.
On Monday, family members were still working out the details of Harrison's funeral. But the music was already being planned.
"Tina Lad'e" Harrison will be memorialized in song by the church choir members she led and a slew of musicians she performed with and inspired over the years, Chisholm said.
Rita Farlow can be reached at farlow @sptimes.com or (727) 445-4157.