By Donna Porterfield

Roadside mourns the passing on January 23 of their long-time collaborator Beegie Adair. Beegie graduated in 1954 from Caverna High School in Horse Cave, Kentucky and went on to a stellar career as a jazz recording artist and Nashville studio musician. Of course, she was named a Kentucky Colonel! 

She began her collaboration with Roadside by co-producing Ron Short's 1981 Nashville/June Appal LP, “Cities of Gold”. Her most recent work with Roadside was as co-composer, co-writer, and performer in the off-Broadway musical Betsy!

In a public response to Roadside’s article commemorating the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, Beegie wrote: “The black jazz musicians here in Nashville were discouraged from working with the white guys (and girls), and we all had to find places to play that would not cause a ruckus. I was playing a gig at Belle Meade Country Club the night M. L. King was killed. When I got in my car, the news was on the radio, and I drove home in shock. I felt bereft, and Nashville instantly put a curfew in place, and there were armed soldiers in tanks at 25th and West End Avenue, in front of Centennial Park. That was as close to being in a war zone as any of us had ever been. I was so radicalized by that time, after the Birmingham Church bombings and the three civil rights workers in Mississippi, that I was ready to go out and do something, just anything, to make myself feel better. The curfew and the tanks lasted about 5 days. 1968 remains in my memory as the worst year I can remember. I began to think the civil rights movement, and the women's issues, and the Vietnam issues were a part of the whole picture. I think that is accurate. It was all about the 'haves', and the 'have nots'. I'm sorry to say I think the current climate is helping those issues come back again, like an old ghost.”

Chris Brown, who was African American, was the Beegie Adair Trio's drummer. After his unexpected death, Beegie composed this for him and for the play Betsy! In this rehearsal recording, drummer “Hardtack” joins Beegie to pay tribute to Brown.  

https://soundcloud.com/roadside-theater/beegie-adair-blues-for-cd-solo 

We miss you, Beegie.

Cite This

Donna Porterfield. “Beegie Adair 1937-2022.” https://roadside.org. January 25, 2022. https://roadside.org/asset/beegie-adair-1937-2022.

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