Local former “The Voice” contestant, Casme, strives for safe house for young Black girls


Gabriella Killett

Casme Carter visits the website for her mentoring program, Daughter of the King 101. Carter started a GoFundMe to raise money for a safe house she hopes to build in order to expand her program.

Casme Ann Carter spent three months last year in Los Angeles appearing on NBC’s Season 19 of The Voice as a singer, making it to the show’s battle rounds. When she got home after what she called one of many launching points in her career in California, she decided she had work to do.

Pulling her back to New Orleans was her desire to add a safe house to her mentorship program, a space where she said young Black women could come to relax and visit in an after school program as a part of the organization’s long-term goal to support girls of color in the city.

“A lot of my responsibility and accountability in life is to spread love,” Carter said. “You can do whatever God puts in your heart.”

Carter, 40, founded Daughter of the King Girls Club after surviving a life-threatening car crash in 2015 and moving back to the Crescent City after living in Nashville and Atlanta. The girls meet monthly for teach-ins about hygiene, history and etiquette, among other topics. Carter said she also catches up with girls virtually on a weekly basis offering a helping hand to their daily lives.

The full-time musician started her career as a part of a gospel group with her sisters and has since toured as a background vocalist with singer Keith Urban and rapper B.o.B.

Carter, who just finished her first kids’ album, said her main purpose for going on The Voice was to develop as big a platform as possible where she could share her and her program’s story.

Daughter of the King’s most recent event illustrates their mission of supporting girls in the city. She hosted 30 girls in August for a slumber party at a warehouse that donated the use of the space, where guests listened to women speak about history, hygiene, and manners. The girls also collected tickets throughout the night that they later used to “shop” at the event’s prize room, which was stocked with donated gifts like perfume and clothing. The girls are ages 7 to 18 and can join the mentoring group on the organization’s website.

She said the outpouring of donations for the slumber party both surprised and excited her. And she hopes she can have slumber parties more regularly once she finds a three- or four-bedroom place to rent as the safe house.

But fun sleepovers aren’t all she envisions for the house. She wants the girls who are guests there to be able to enjoy home-cooked meals. They could do their homework there. They could go into a room and meditate or nap.

Carter would hire staffers to work there as “house moms,” offering guests whatever support they needed.

“I really want it to feel like a home that some of them will never have,” Carter said.

While working with a traveling theatre group in Nashville in the 2010s, Carter founded Casme Cares, a community outreach program where she fed impoverished families and mentored young Black girls in Tennessee when she was living there after going to Tennessee State University.

She then established For You mentoring where she made it a goal to teach young women about self-love, suicide, rape, and abstinence when she moved to Atlanta soon after. For You has since become Daughter of the King, founded in 2017 and named for Carter’s 2014 album and 2015 self-help book by the same name.

Two girls in New Orleans to benefit from Daughter of the King’s mentorship are Latrice Dillon’s daughters, Asia Dillon, 14, and Amyra Clarke, 9.

Dillon met Carter through a friend, and when Dillon found out Carter mentored girls, she knew she had to sign her daughters up. Now a part of Daughter of the King since 2018, Dillon said she and her girls are thriving.

Carter calls Asia “Sassy” after the 14-year-old’s lip gloss brand, SassyA Cosmetics. Carter created a jingle for Asia when the teen was feeling down about a lack of sales.

Asia said the camaraderie Carter builds among the girls in the program is special.

“She makes us feel like we’re sisters,” Asia said. “We’re family.”

Dillon said she hopes that Carter can raise enough money to make the safe house a reality and help even more young women of color.

Amber Green, 33, became a mentee of Carter’s after meeting her at a party in 2010 and following her on social media. Green, along with Ingrid Crawford-Shelton, 32, another mentee of Carter’s, experienced a period of unemployment and homelessness that Carter helped both of them transform into secure employment and a place to live.

“People always find Casme at the right moment, or she always finds them at the right moment,” Green said.

Crawford-Shelton met Carter in 2012 when they were both living in Atlanta, and Crawford-Shelton went to take photos behind the scenes at one of Carter’s shoots as a part of the freelance photography work she was doing to get by. Carter made arrangements for her and Green, who was going through the same thing, to have a safe space to sleep.

“The younger people that she helps, I was one of those people,” Crawford-Shelton said. “I admire her for everything that she’s doing.”

Carter said her group can afford $1,500 a month in rent for the safe house, but she hasn’t yet been able to find anything bigger than a single unit in a duplex or triplex. She is hosting a gala she’s calling “House of Heroes” on Dec. 16 to raise money for the safe house to better her chances of finding a place soon. Guests are asked to attend the event dressed as superheroes, in a black gown, or wearing a tuxedo.

The gala will be hosted at the Algiers Auditorium.Tickets are available at 101daughteroftheking.com/gala. Tickets are $100 and include food, nonalcoholic drinks, games and a concert. Tables can be reserved for $1,000. All funds collected will go toward the safe house.

“We are protecting one girl at a time, and every house needs a hero,” Carter said.