Throughout his life, music has created opportunities for Kevin McBeth, ’85. As a youth growing up around what was the Astrodome, McBeth spent much of his time at Fiesta Missionary Baptist Church. “I remember singing from a very young age. Every Sunday after church, I made my way to the piano or organ,” he said.
With six children, it was a sacrifice for his parents, Preston and Madie (now deceased), to purchase a piano, but they found a way. “I started taking lessons. I would play hymns, Gospel songs, and what was playing on the radio like Lionel Richie,” he said.
His talents paved the way for McBeth to attend the Houston High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. By age 15, he was directing his church’s choir. For college, McBeth decided to look nearby. “HBU made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I liked the small school atmosphere,” he said.
As a talented tenor and a pianist who could play by ear, the time with intentional instructors at HBU refined McBeth’s skills. “I’d been told for a long time that I had a lot of natural talent. My instructors really helped with getting me focused,” he said.
In the HBU Department of Music, McBeth sang from a full musical menu, ranging from operatic arias, to show tunes, to Spirituals. “The great teachers fostered my love of music and expanded my horizons,” he said.
McBeth remembers the influence of HBU on his Christian walk as well. “It deepened my faith and understanding of the Bible and of biblical history,” he said. “I think all of that time was very formative in being able to shape who I was.”
After graduating, McBeth went on to lead music programs at Westbury United Methodist Church, and to complete graduate work at the University of Houston. From there, he led music at a church in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for about six years before moving to St. Louis, Missouri in 1995. He continues to serve as the director of Music and Worship at Manchester United Methodist Church. About 500 people are involved in the church’s music program, where four different worship styles are given an avenue.
Outside of church, McBeth has been involved in several music organizations, now serving as an associate conductor for the St. Louis Symphony. McBeth’s sons, Cameron and Austin, are also accomplished musicians.
“Music has opened doors I could never have imagined,” McBeth said. “I’ve seen the power of music drawing people together. I think music is really formational and transformational.”
HBU marked the beginning of a learning process as a mature musician that has never stopped. “It was a great time and a great place to study,” he said. “Even now, I’m always studying and learning, and going further down the path musically.”