Ruth McGinnis

June 20, 1957 - October 06, 2009


McGINNIS, Ruth - Author, violinist, recording artist, and inspirational speaker, died of ovarian cancer on October 6, 2009 at her home in Nashville, at the age of 52. A classically-trained violinist, Ms. McGinnis recorded a collection of five CD's, which feature her classical/crossover style interpreting Celtic, folk, sacred, classical, contemporary and Christmas melodies. She was also the author of two critically-acclaimed books - Living the Good Life, which explained her theory of wellness and life choices, and Breathing Freely, Celebrating the Imperfect Life, her memoir of life, love, and music. Ruth McGinnis performed in Nashville and around the world as a solo artist, as accompanist, and with her own Acoustic Trio.

Born to musician parents, Ruth McGinnis grew up in Illinois, and later in California, where her family moved in 1968. The eldest of five musical sisters, she began musical studies at the age of eight. She trained as classical violinist, and received a masters degree in violin performance from the Juilliard School in New York City. Following graduation, however, Ruth became intrigued with freer styles of fiddle music, including country, bluegrass and folk. In 1986, she moved to Nashville to pursue this new direction in her musical career, performing and recording with the late John Hartford.

Since then, she has performed with her close friend, Amy Grant, in venues as diverse as the Nashville Symphony, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Kennedy Center, and Paul Newman's Hole In The Wall Gang Camp. She also performed with Michael W. Smith, Vince Gill and Chet Atkins. As a solo artist, she performed internationally, including at the 2000 Franklin Graham Festival in Scotland.

Ruth McGinnis adopted as the theme of her writing, speaking, and music that life is a gift - with all its imperfections - and should be accepted, lived, and enjoyed as it is given. In her memoir, Breathing Freely, she wrote: "All I ever really wanted is to breathe freely in the gift of life." Of Living the Good Life, Amy Grant wrote: "This book is a celebration of the sacred journey of life. Simple. Profound." Even after her cancer diagnosis in 2006, Ruth continued to live fully, write, speak, and make music. She wrote: "We all have a 'music of life' - the inner part of us revealed to the world in every way we live, the story we write with God's help. The most beautiful music of life happens, not in the perfect moments, but in the blend of dreams and reality." Of her cancer, she said, "It has given me the gift of being fully in relationship with the beautiful and horrible that life has to offer, and finding in the midst of it, unexpected joy."

Ruth is survived by her beloved husband of 13 years, John Burrell; by her parents, Frank and Freddie Lu McGinnis, and by her sisters, Laura, Julie, Rachel and Erin.