Beth Rivar Slusher of Give A Note on Equity in Music Education
Where you grew up and where you live now.
I was born in Louisville, Kentucky, and grew up mostly in Indiana and Michigan. We moved about every four or five years because my dad was a JCPenney store manager and that’s how they did it back then. I live in Noblesville, Indiana now, just outside of Indianapolis.
Your first musical memory.
Singing in the cherub choir at church when I was 4, and our family gathered around the piano to sing together at home.
Your first gig.
My first big gig was Elton John, he blew my mind!
Your favorite bands/musicians.
Elton John— his unparalleled ability with the lyrics and music that made his songs resonate so deeply with his audience. Master musician and showman!
Chris Stapleton– incredible raw talent that shows genuine gratitude to his fans.
Jennifer Hudson– her incredible voice and artistry for knowing when to belt her and when not to. Few people can navigate the styling of a song like she can!
How do you get your music these days.
Your favorite place to see a concert.
Intimate places with emerging artists. Nothing better than seeing someone before they become a household name and knowing they will!
Your favorite music video.
I loved and admired all of Michael Jackson’s videos, especially “Billy Jean” and “Polar.” He had an incredible talent for weaving history through music, dance, costume, and drama. His attention to detail showed in every aspect of every video.
Your favorite music-focused TV show and/or podcast.
The voice for a music-focused TV show. I’m not much of a podcaster.
A recent project you are proud of.
The pandemic has upended the music education programs in our schools. Many students, especially those from historically marginalized communities, were unable to participate in their school music programs simply because they could not afford the music-specific PPE that was needed. to play. And music is often the only reason some of these kids go to school every day. I am extremely proud that Give A Note has established the Let’s Play Music Fund meanwhile, providing more than 13,000 specialized PPE, helping more than 7,000 students from 86 schools in 18 states get back into the music classroom to play. Our mission is deeply rooted in creating equitable access and participation in music education, and while this was outside of our normal grant funding programs, it was exactly what teachers and the students needed – a way to bring the group together!
Someone else’s project you admired recently.
In November, the Fisk Jubilee Singers celebrated their 150th anniversary with a benefit concert at Ryman-Auditorium in Nashville. One of our Give A Note board members, Eric Holt, was part of the organizing committee that produced the show. It was a remarkable tribute to the history of the Fisk Jubilee Singers, their contribution to music and to the city of Nashville and raised more than $1.5 million to secure an endowment for the sustainability of the organization. It was an impressive show of talent, history and philanthropy, all rolled into one incredible package!
How musicians should approach working with brands.
Musicians have a unique opportunity when working with a brand to change and expand the audience of for-profit and non-profit brands. The impact affects both the musician and the brand – and hopefully in a positive way. They need to have the endgame in sight when deciding if/when they want to line up on that mark.
How brands should approach working with musicians.
It’s the same idea in terms of knowing the endgame in advance. Brands should apply when they have a clear strategy on how much impact they want the musician to have on their brand, and know what benefits it will also create for the musician.
What music can do that nothing else can.
Music always makes us feel something, and often in a deeply profound way.
What you would be doing if you weren’t in the music business.
Marketing and advertising. I like the idea of collaborating with others to create something that could change the way people think.