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Dr. Beth McGinnis grew up hearing the rich sounds and stories of Alabama, and she wants to share them with you. In HEAR in Alabama, you'll hear the voices and music of the remarkable, resilient Alabamians Beth knows and loves.


Beth's parents instilled in her a deep love not only of the classical music she teaches at Samford University in Birmingham, but also of the rich vernacular traditions in her home state. Her mother taught Beth and her siblings to harmonize on folk songs during family road trips and played the piano for her father to sing those songs in churches and schools. As a child in Livingston, Beth was inspired by local hero Ruby Pickens Tartt, collector of many of the songs and stories in the Alan Lomax collections of the Library of Congress. Beth's father's side of the family still has family reunions in south Alabama with dinner on the grounds and Sacred Harp singing.

Now Assistant Professor of Musicology at Samford, Beth has felt like she was returning home when she has taken students to west Alabama to partner with public-school bands. She is Organist at Vestavia Hills Baptist Church, but sometimes her church gives her the day off to attend worship at Provewell Baptist Church in Sprott, Providence Baptist Church in Marion, or somewhere else in Alabama to learn about old and new Black gospel traditions. As an accompanist Beth's performing credits include Carnegie Hall, Santo Spirito in Florence, the Vienna Konzerthaus and Palais Ferstel, and Birmingham’s Alys Stephens Center, but her favorite musicians to accompany live right here in Alabama. She has published articles on music and the extra-musical and biographical articles for the New Grove Dictionary of American Music. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Piano Performance from Samford University, a Master of Music in Musicology from Texas Christian University, and a Ph.D. in Musicology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. 

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