Joe Beasley Memorial Foundation, Inc. is a non-profit organization for charitable, educational and artistic purposes. The specific purposes of the organization are to support the growth and appreciation of Sacred Harp music and shape-note singing and to raise money to assist those involved in such music. The organization has implemented several programs to achieve these goals.
The first program is a Growth and Preservation Program of Sacred Harp Music and Shape-Note Music. The goal of this program is to provide assistance for struggling or new Sacred Harp / Shape-Note singing groups and performances (singings). This program will provide financial support as well as donate material resources that Sacred Harp/ Shape-Note singings and singers would need to succeed such as housing, transportation, food, books, music and singing master materials. Through supporting new singings and singers or those in need of help, we hope to promote the growth and preservation of Sacred Harp and shape-note singing as an important form of American art and culture.
The second program is a Scholarship Program. This program is designed to provide assistance with the financial needs of deserving students who are involved in Sacred Harp music and Shape-Note Music. The program will grant monetary scholarships and also offer assistance in other ways to students who express an interest in furthering the growth of Sacred Harp Music and Shape-Note Music. To receive such financial aid, thestudents have to be enrolled in an accredited institution of higher learning, be able to demonstrate financial need, and be committed to preserving and expanding the tradition of Sacred Harp music and Shape-Note Singing.
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.