The music of Carol Barnett has been called audacious and engaging. Her varied catalog includes works for solo voice, piano, chorus, diverse chamber ensembles, orchestra, and wind ensemble. She was awarded the 2003 Nancy Van de Vate International Prize for Opera for her chamber opera Snow, and her music theater work Meeting at Seneca Falls was featured at the 2006 Diversity Festival in Red Wing, MN.
The World Beloved: A Bluegrass Mass, commissioned in 2006 by VocalEssence and written with Marisha Chamberlain, had its Carnegie Hall debut in February 2013 and has become a favorite across the country. Recent works include Coy Pond Suite for the Gordon College Big Band; Mortals & Angels: A Bluegrass Te Deum for the Distinguished Concerts International New York Festival Chorus and bluegrass band Dailey & Vincent; and Musica, dei donum optimi for the Rose Ensemble.
Barnett is a charter member of the American Composers Forum and a graduate of the University of Minnesota, where she studied composition with Dominick Argento and Paul Fetler. She was composer-in-residence with the Dale Warland Singers from 1992 to 2001, and was an adjunct faculty member at Augsburg College from 2000 to 2015.