How A Chance Encounter Paved The Way For A Waco Singer’s Jazz Career

The sounds of Texas.

By Joy Díaz & Caroline CovingtonMay 12, 2021 1:07 pm,

Beth Ullman is a community college professor in Waco, Texas. She’s also a performer, musician and songwriter performing under the name “Bethani”. Her new album, “After the Rain,” is dedicated to her late ex-husband, Rich Harney, who died unexpectedly in 2020. Harney was a musician whom she met through another Austin musician, Dave Morgan, after a random encounter at Hyde Park Bar and Grill in 1985. Ullman says she would never have met Harney had Morgan not sat next to her at the bar that day. Harney changed her life: she was studying classical music at the University of Texas at Austin at the time, but her musical tastes changed after they met. His passing rekindled her love for songwriting.

“[Harney] invited me over to his house and the piano was in his bedroom … I’ll never forget that. And at one point, he said – we were playing jazz standards – he said, ‘Scat one!’ And I’d never scatted in my life, but I did it. And within a year, we were married. It’s amazing the connection, how you meet one person.”


“Rich was one of the nicest, most giving, wonderful people that I ever knew. I mean, we used to travel, we used to perform in Aspen, and we would drive to Aspen to do these gigs and Rich wanted to stop and pick up every hitchhiker on the road. And we used to have fights because it was too, I thought it was too risky – that was Rich.”


He had started writing poetry. His final poem that he wrote was called ‘After the Rain.’ Well, when I read that poem – it’s a fabulous poem that was obviously written about his wife, Maria – I said, ‘I want to do this, and is that, OK?’ And she said, ‘Absolutely.'”


“Rich’s passing flipped a switch that got me writing again. So, he gave me a gift.”

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