Dorothy Ashby

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About Dorothy Ashby

Harpist Dorothy Ashby was one of the very first harpists to give the instrument a prominent role in jazz. Beginning in the late '50s, Ashby started releasing albums where her harp was the lead instrument, where beforehand harp in jazz contexts was mostly relegated to backing texture or flourishes. Though Ashby worked as a side player for many big names throughout her career, her records as a leader were her most important contribution to jazz overall, growing from roots in bebop on sets like 1958's Hip Harp to incorporating elements of Brazilian music, electrified soul, world influences, and even psychedelia on efforts like her especially tuned-in 1968 album Afro-Harping. Ashby remained active up until her death in the late '80s, and the influence of her visionary work can still be heard in subsequent generations of harp players expanding the boundaries of genre and expression.

Detroit, MI, United States
August 6, 1930
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