has experienced a
successful and varied musical career. In the beginning there was ....
Beverly began private piano
lessons with an incredible teacher, Mrs. Frank Miller of
Jacksonville, Florida at the age of 6. At the age of 8 she
played for Junior Church at Swain Memorial Methodist Church, and
played Chopinís Minute Waltz in a minute flat in the 4th
grade at the age of 9! At the age of 11, Mrs. Miller
recommended that Beverly study with a retired concert pianist,
and she began her studies with him playing some of the Sonatas
of Beethoven. However, those lessons were concluded within 2
months when the family was moved to Albany, Georgia. A
comparable teacher was not found, and a delighted Beverly was
allowed to quit her lessons ... she had always much preferred
the outdoors to the indoor confines of piano practice.
A couple of people were
instrumental in Beverly continuing her music, for she had vowed
she would never again touch the piano! Her mother, Morrisette (Morry)
Morton Smith, enticed her to keep playing with a promise she
would buy 2 pieces of sheet music (50 cents per piece at the
time!) for every piece Beverly purchased. Classical music was
put on the back burner for a while and Beverly developed a love
of playing the pops! Also Lois Ford, Church Hostess at Albany
Methodist Church heard her play and suggested she learn one hymn
a day. Beverly developed a love of playing hymns. This kept
her playing ... constantly!
Beverly possessed a natural
talent for accompanying and was selected as accompanist for both
the Albany Junior and High School Glee Clubs. She was also in
demand at her church to play for adult and youth soloists.
As a Junior in high school,
Beverly formed The Troubadours, a mixed ensemble. This popular
group had a full schedule of performing engagements in area
churches, service clubs and local shows. In addition, the
ensemble earned top honors at the annual State Music Festival.
Beverly sang her first solo at an
evening service of Albany First Methodist on a dare from her
close friend, Mary Dale Vansant. Shortly thereafter another
friend, Jo Wright, who worked as an intern at the local TV
station, called and asked her to sing on the local, "At Home
with the Hulicks". Having dreamed of a career as a song
stylist, the answer was, "Yes", and she chose an old favorite,
"You'll Never Know" and a favorite of the day, Nat King Cole's,
"Answer Me, O My Love". She called her neighbor Ray Ragsdale to
accompany her. On the way to the TV station, she stopped at
Ray's home to rehearse. Ray was 2 years younger and a very
talented musician/composer. From the success of this initial
performance, Beverly often performed on local TV, for various
service clubs, dances and for the servicemen at Turner Air Force
Base and other functions. Since then, she has performed for
many programs and church services, but she did not make a career
out of singing; however, her accompanist went on to be the ever
popular, ever successful Ray (Ragsdale) Stevens!
Beverly took about 6 organ
lessons from John Paul Jones in Albany, Georgia at the
Conservatory of Music the summer she was 16. She was asked to
play the tiny Hammond (one octave pedaled) organ at Avalon
Methodist Church. Good experience ... no pay! She was yet to
become a real organist!!! Her development as an organist came
from observing Frances Keefer Atkinson, organist at Park Hill
United Methodist Church in Denver, Colorado (see "A Tribute" in
the Pipe Organ section), listening intently to recordings of E.
Power Biggs, and from the encouragement of Mel Graner, Director
of Music at St. Paul's Methodist Church.
Beverly performed the role of
Guenevere in the production of CAMELOT at the Springer
Opera House (State Theatre of Georgia) in Columbus, Georgia. The
production was directed by well-known director, Byron Grant, now
Chair of Musical Theatre at Webster University in St. Louis,
In the ensuing years, Beverly has ...
served as Director of Music and
Organist in various Methodist churches in Colorado and Georgia;
worked with adults, youth and
been extremely fortunate to be
connected with churches that housed very fine pipe organs;
given instruction in voice,
piano and organ;
presented organ and piano
concerts with talented sister, Tina Smith Cowan (now deceased) and additionally
with Sherri Barrett;
presented themed vocal musical
sung with the Atlanta Symphony
Chorus under the direction of the late Robert Shaw.