Beth Whitney became a musician when a man at Maltby Congregational Church near Snohomish offered her his guitar. She was 15 years old.
“A guy at my church handed me a guitar and asked, ‘Could you use this?’” said Whitney, a Snohomish High School graduate. “I remember pausing and deciding, ‘Yeah, I could use that. I will use this guitar.’ ”
Now 36, Whitney will release her seventh folk album “Into the Ground” on May 28. She also shared with The Daily Herald a yet-to-be released video recorded in 2019.
Whitney, of Leavenworth, has performed with the Wenatchee Valley Symphony, toured the U.S. with The Banner Days, had her songs featured on network TV shows and played at the Lincoln Center in New York.
She has shared the stage with Courtney Marie Andrews, Brett Dennen, Anna Tivel, Jeffrey Martin, Damien Jurado, JJ Heller and Jamestown Revival.
Her albums, which have won songwriting awards and been played on radio stations all over the nation, include “Leave Your Shoes” (2007), “Yellow” (2010), “Ukulele” (2012) and “The Wild Unrest” (2017).
In 2013, Whitney collaborated with fellow musician Bradford Loomis, who graduated from Marysville Pilchuck High School, to form the soulful folk duo The Banner Days.
Together, Whitney and Loomis wrote and recorded “The Banner Days” (2014) and “Hand Me A Hymnal” (2015). Their song “My Beloved” has been steamed more than 2 million times on Spotify.
“Into the Ground” was recorded just weeks before COVID-19 hit Snohomish County. The 11-track album includes the songs “Wild Roses,” “Two Sons,” “Whole Heart,” “In Another Life” and “Moonlight.”
“It came from this idea of trying to dig in further to who we are and why,” she said of her latest album. “What makes us healthy.”
“I’ve also been gardening a lot,” Whitney added. “I do not have a green thumb at all, but in my idealist of ideals, I have a garden that is happy and flourishing.”
Her husband, Aaron Fishburn, plays upright and electric bass for Whitney’s shows and albums. He’s been playing the bass since the eighth grade.
Whitney and Fishburn, who married in 2008, met at Vacation Bible School in Plain when they were 4 and 5 years old.
They reconnected while attending Whitworth University in Spokane. After jamming together off and on — Whitney on guitar and Fishburn on bass — they booked gigs around town.
“She’s incredible,” Fishburn said, who first heard her play at a wedding. “Ever since I first heard her, you can tell that she has that magic. She’s got that amazing Nora Jones-ish voice, and her songwriting is just really, really good.”
Although it’s hard for Fishburn to pick a favorite song on the new album, he likes “Two Sons” the most.
“Two Sons” is based on The Parable of the Two Sons, told by Jesus in the Bible. The Ballard Sessions video, an Eratosthenes Fackenthall folk music project, features Whitney and Fishburn performing the song in a cedar grove in Leavenworth.
“It’s just really good,” he said. “The recording of it turned out really beautiful.”
Now that Snohomish County is in Phase 3, Whitney and Fishburn are looking to book a show or two here — maybe even for her hometown at the Tim Noah Thumbnail Theater in Snohomish.
“It’s obviously been a crazy year, not having the live shows and touring that we’re used to,” he said. “But all through it, somehow the best record of music that we’ve ever made happened. I’m really proud of it and proud of Beth. She just keeps getting better and better.”
In addition to the guitar, Whitney plays the ukulele and the banjo. She was gifted those instruments as well.
“The only reason that I continued playing after getting that guitar has to do with Snohomish County,” she said. “There were these opportunities to go out and share these songs in a supportive environment. I really am grateful.”
Sara Bruestle: 425-339-3046; email@example.com; @sarabruestle.
If you stream
The Daily Herald was granted an exclusive link to a yet-to-be-released Ballard Sessions video featuring Beth Whitney’s song “Two Sons.” Watch the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=BcSQGd14vc8.