Who is Joe Beasley

Joseph Jackson Beasley
March 15, 1929 - October 5, 1995


Joe Beasley was the oldest of ten brothers and sisters who grew up on a farm in Winfield, Alabama. He learned Sacred Harp (four shapes) and other music (including the seven-shape books) from his mother and father. After his schooling Joe left Alabama for the “greener pastures” of the Midwest and Northeast. He took his love of music with him. After settling in New York, he undertook the task of reviving and revitalizing Sacred Harp in the North and New England, where it had had its roots in Colonial times. He frequently traveled back home, where he made recordings of local singings, both in old block-and-pine churches and in family homes. He then took the recordings north to demonstrate to his “disciples” what the music (and its spirit) was all about.

Joe had an all-embracing love and enthusiasm for all cultures and their forms of music. He introduced and promoted shape note music wherever he went. He valued education and was a natural teacher. He collected artifacts of the different cultures he visited and sought to infuse his knowledge into all his activities. His home became a focal point for the revived singing culture in New York and New England.

After his death from cancer, his brothers and sisters undertook the formation of the Joe Beasley Memorial Foundation Inc., to carry on and expand his work and vision.

The Music and Cultural Center the Foundation is erecting in Bessemer, Alabama, is designed to provide a venue for all of the activities which Joe delighted in. Accommodations will be provided for music and all forms of art and other cultural, educational, civic and family activities.