Piano Inspires Podcast: Artina McCain

To celebrate the latest episode of Piano Inspires Podcast featuring Artina McCain, we are sharing an excerpted transcript of her conversation with Andrea McAlister. Want to learn more about McCain? Check out the latest installment of the Piano Inspires Podcast. To learn more, visit pianoinspires.com. Listen to our latest episode with McCain on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or our website!

Artina McCain performing at NCKP 2023: The Piano Conference.

Andrea McAlister: One thing I love so much—and I ran out and got a copy as soon as it was available—is your publication with the 24 African American folk tunes. Just beautiful music.

Artina McCain: Oh, thank you.

Andrea McAlister: I think giving this gift to young students is—it’s tremendous. I just, I love the whole collection. I’ve given them out to my students. They’re all excited to play them. What does it mean to you to be able to create that for students? How did you come across this project to begin with?

Artina McCain: Oh, well, interestingly enough, I’m glad you asked that, because nobody’s ever asked me that. Way back in the day when Piano Magazine was Clavier Companion, I was doing some reviews for some of the books that would come out for Hal Leonard, like at the beginning of my career. I actually ran into a woman who was working on the editorial staff at the time and she said, “Hey, you want to do some reviews?” Like sure. That had to be at least a seven to eight year difference between the time that Hal Leonard approached me. So basically, they had seen my review all those years ago, and she calls me and says, “You know, you wrote a really great review for us.” “Like eight years ago!” “You want to write a book?” “What?” That’s exactly how it happened. Wow, you never know who’s watching your work.

Artina McCain

Andrea McAlister: You never know. And that’s where perseverance also pays because you never know what’s going to come around.

Artina McCain: Right. So you know, they in the meantime have created this fantastic folk song series of books that represent people from all over the world. They said, “Oh, we want to do the African American version of this. Do you want to do it?” “No! [Laughs] I never wrote a book in my life! Are you sure that you are calling the right person?” [Laughs] So they convinced me and I’m so glad that I did because you know, those resources weren’t available for me when I was a kid. You know, maybe I could have been a singer if my mom could have found some books to encourage me. So no, it means the world. And again, I’m glad that I kind of stepped out on faith to do it because it wasn’t something that I even dreamed that I would do, or that I dreamed would come out of doing a book review, you know, like eight years prior.

Andrea McAlister: Right? You just never know who’s watching and reading and appreciating the work that you are doing.

Artina McCain: Absolutely.

Andrea McAlister: I think through this book, you have created so many people who are appreciative that you’ve done the work. That you didn’t say no.

Artina McCain: Right?

Andrea McAlister: Even though you didn’t say no initially. But they convinced you that you really should do this. Because just being able to experience things other than Clementi—I mean, I know those are all important foundational—you know, you learn a lot of foundational skills through the standard repertoire. But this is such important music to pass along to kids who are growing up now and getting excited about playing the piano and these pieces are so exciting to play.

Artina McCain: Yeah, and familiar hopefully to many too.

If you enjoyed this excerpt from Piano Inspires Podcast’s latest episode, listen to the entire episode with Artina McCain on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, YouTube, or our website!

piano inspires logo, black with colored stripes in the tail of the piano