Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly referred to the Jazz Hero Award as the International Jazz Hero Award. The Herald regrets this error.
Jazz musician and WKU alumnus Bobbe Gorin “Beegie” Adair died on Sunday, January 23 at the age of 84, according to her website.
“The world has lost a true American treasure, but we are all extremely lucky to have entered her sphere and felt the joy of the music she created,” the website reads. “Through the body of work she has created and through legions of students, colleagues, fans and friends around the world, Beegie’s music will be shared and heard for generations to come. .”
Adair was born in Cave City and graduated from WKU in 1958 with a BS in Music Education. She learned the piano when she was 5 and developed a love of jazz playing with various bands in college, Adair said in a 1991 NPR Interview on Piano Jazz with host Marian McPartland.
Adair moved to Nashville after college to teach music, eventually becoming a session musician for The Johnny Cash Show, The Ralph Emery Early Morning Show, and the WSM Radio Noon Show.
During her musical career which spanned over 6 decades, Adair appeared on over 100 albums, contributing to the works of artists such as Dolly Parton, Henry Mancini, Chet Atkins, Peggy Lee, Ray Stevens and many more. .
She released her first studio album under her own name in 1991, titled “Escape To New York”, and subsequently released a total of 35 albums.
The Beegie Adair Trio, consisting of herself, bassist Roger Spencer and percussionist Chris Brown, became Japan’s best-selling jazz artist in 2010. They performed across the world, selling tickets in places like Carnegie Hall and the PizzaExpress Jazz Club in London.
Adair has garnered immense praise for his work and his life. She was inducted into the WKU Hall of Distinguished Alumni in 2016 and received the Jazz Hero Award from the Jazz Journalist Association in 2013.
In recent years, Adair has joined manager and friend Monica Ramey to regularly hosts “Happy Hour with Beegie” on Youtube, where Adair invites musicians, colleagues and loved ones to come chat about their careers and lives.
In a Dec. 16, 2021, tweet, Adair said she and Ramey would take Christmas Eve to enjoy “a quiet, thoughtful night in our pajamas, with a glass of wine and a zoo of kittens all around us.”
“We have many reasons to reflect and be happy this year, including wonderful fans and friends like you who supported us when we needed it most,” Adair said. “You will never know how much this means to us.”
Adair will be returned to Williamson Memorial Gardens in Franklin, Tennessee. A celebration of life will be held at a later date.
Depending on the funeral home, memorials may be made at Nashville Jazz Workshop, www.nashvillejazz.org; Billy Adair Scholarship Fund Vanderbilt University, www.giving.vanderbilt.edu; Williamson County Animal Center, www.adoptwcac.org; or St. Joseph’s Indian School, www.give.stjo.org.
Managing Editor Michael J. Collins can be reached at [email protected] topper.wku.edu. Follow him on Twitter @mjcollinsnews.