Jazz great Helen Merrill salutes her “inventive jazz sense, her wonderful sense of time and improvised melody.”
Christopher Louden of Jazz Times magazine says Adair is “an accomplished artist with a delicate touch.”
The Los Angeles Times calls her music “Elegant.”
Entertainment News writes, “Beegie Adair is one of the finest piano players in the world.”
So are thousands of jazz fans, who agree with critics about Adair’s sophisticated and listenable jazz performances, and who have made her recordings among the biggest sellers in the jazz world.
Beegie Adair grew up in Cave City, Kentucky, where she began taking piano lessons at age five. She continued to study piano throughout college, earning a B.S. in Music Education at Western State University in Bowling Green, Kentucky. During and after college, she played in jazz bands, and spent three years teaching music to children before moving to Nashville, where she became a session musician, working at WSM-TV and on The Johnny Cash Show (1969-71). A sought-after studio musician in her early days there, Adair accompanied such legendary performers as Chet Atkins, Dolly Parton, Lucille Ball, Steve Allen, Dinah Shore, Mama Cass Elliott and Peggy Lee.
She and her husband, Billy Adair, also started a jingle company to write music for commercials. In 1982, she and saxophonist Denis Solee formed the Adair-Solee Quartet, which evolved into the Be-Bop Co-Op, a jazz sextet. She made her first album under her own name, Escape to New York, with a rhythm section consisting of Bob Cranshaw and Gregory Hutchinson.
Ms. Adair cites George Shearing, Bill Evans, Oscar Peterson and Erroll Garner among her influences; Adair has appeared on over 100 albums (34 of which are studio recordings with her trio), ranging from Cole Porter standards to Frank Sinatra classics to romantic World War II ballads. Her 6-CD Centennial Composers Collection of tunes by Rodgers, Gershwin, Kern, Ellington, Carmichael and Berlin became an instant collectible classic upon its release.
Her first live album, “The Real Thing,” spent over 12 weeks in the Top 20 on the JazzWeek charts and was named one of the “Top 100 Best Jazz Albums” of 2012. With over 1.5 million albums sold, the Beegie Adair Trio is one of the most successful, respected working trios in the world.
In the late 80s, Beegie hosted Improvised Thoughts, a popular radio talk/music show on the local NPR affiliate, featuring local and international jazz artists including such greats as Tony Bennett, Joe Williams, Marian McPartland, Benny Golson and Helen Merrill. She has guested on McPartland’s internationally known Piano Jazz show twice and has performed with Nat Adderley, Bill Watrous, Lew Tabackin, Terry Clarke and Urbie Green among many others. In 2002, Beegie joined one of the most exclusive rosters in the world when she became a Steinway Artist. An honor only bestowed upon 1,600 pianists in the world including Lang Lang, Diana Krall, Harry Connick, Jr., Michael Legrand, Billy Joel and the “immortals” like Irving Berlin, Cole Porter, Sergei Rachmaninoff, and Arthur Rubinstein.
Among her many accolades, she has been inducted into the Western Kentucky University Hall of Fame, The Hall of Distinguished Alumni at Western, the Cave City, KY Hall of Fame and was the inaugural Heritage Award recipient from the Nashville Jazz Workshop in Nashville, TN. In 2013 she was honored as an international “Jazz Hero” by Jazz Journalist Association and was appointed a Kentucky Colonel by KY Gov. Steve Beshear. Additionally, her hometown dedicated the Beegie Adair Community Center in her honor for her many contributions to music, education and her hometown community.
She and her trio continue to play in jazz clubs and festivals around the world and were the top selling jazz artist in Japan in 2010. Since 2011, Beegie has received a very warm welcome from her fans in New York, with her multiple appearances at the legendary Birdland Jazz Club, with her trio and vocalist Monica Ramey.
Beegie currently lives in Franklin, TN. She is a Board & Faculty member of the Nashville Jazz Workshop and performs regularly in Nashville.