ATLANTIC CITY — Ms. Senior New Jersey Carolyn Harden became Ms. Senior America on Thursday at Resorts Casino Hotel.
Harden, 73, added to her success in music and business by winning the Ms. New Jersey Senior America crown in June.
She was back on stage this week to compete with women from across the United States, all accomplished, talented and older than 60.
“I saw the wonderful work the Cameo Club was doing when they performed at several senior events in the area,” Harden said Monday.
Cameo Club members perform across the state. All of the women have competed in Ms. New Jersey Senior America.
“I think a lot of people do not look beyond the word ‘pageant’ to really understand what the Ms. New Jersey Senior America and Ms. Senior America is all about,” Harden said. “They think it is a beauty competition.
“Women who have reached the age of elegance, of being over 60, have so much to offer,” she said. “This competition showcases their inner beauty. Seniors are the foundation of our communities, and when we have the opportunity to perform at an event, whether it is a hospital or a care facility, we can brighten someone’s day or show by example the almost limitless possibilities that are there for older citizens.”
For her talent, Harden decided to stick with the song that won her the title in June: “For Once in My Life,” made famous by Stevie Wonder and Tony Bennett.
Harden earned her musical chops alongside Dionne and Dee Dee Warwick and Cissy Houston in the Gospelaires.
She was a sessions singer for Burt Bacharach and Hal David and released several singles on the Domino record label. She appeared on “American Bandstand” and at the Apollo Theater in New York City.
But life got busy with family, and she moved to the academic scene, earning a degree in finance from Kean University and spending the next big slice of her life in higher education and the private sector. Harden said she was an admissions director at Seton Hall University.
When she retired, Harden returned to her firm, OfficeXperts, and continued to mentor young people to increase their financial competency. It began as a family organization for those who wanted their kids to learn how to save and moved on from there. She said it gives her satisfaction to help young people understand how to save and why they need to save.
“Some of the youngest kids I worked with are now entering college, and they appreciate those lessons and are using that money they saved to help pay for college. That is very rewarding to me,” she said.
At the same time, she was mentoring aspiring musicians and singers. She later helped establish the performing arts club at the Renaissance over-55 community in Manchester Township, Ocean County, where she’s a singer and actress.