Dorothy Ashby   


  1. Toshiko Akiyoshi
  2. Geri Allen
  3. Andrews Sisters
  4. Angela Andrews
  5. Lil Harden Armstrong
  6. Dorothy Ashby
  7. Pearl Bailey
  8. Beverly Barkley
  9. Karen Briggs
  10. Ruth Brown
  11. Diane Cameron
  12. Betty Carter
  13. Joan Cartwright
  14. Kim Clarke
  15. Gloria Coleman
  16. Alice Coltrane
  17. Sasha Daltonn
  18. Dorothy Donegan
  19. Ella Fitzgerald
  20. Gloria Galante
  21. Rita Graham
  22. Jace Harnage
  23. Billie Holiday
  24. Bertha Hope
  25. Shirley Horn
  26. Lena Horne
  27. Alberta Hunter
  28. Jus' Cynthia
  29. Sandra Kaye
  30. Emme Kemp
  31. Vinnie Knight
  32. Lavelle
  33. Peggy Lee
  34. Abbey Lincoln
  35. Melba Liston
  36. Gloria Lynne
  37. Tania Maria
  38. Marian McPartland
  39. Carmen McRae
  40. Mabel Mercer
  41. M'zuri
  42. Sandy Patton
  43. Trudy Pitts
  44. Cheryl Porter
  45. Shirley Scott
  46. Nina Simone
  47. Bessie Smith
  48. Dakota Staton
  49. Carol Sudhalter
  50. Monnette Sudler
  51. Sarah Vaughn
  52. Dinah Washington
  53. Ethel Waters
  54. Mary Lou Williams


Dorothy Ashby (Detroit, MI - August 6, 1932 - April 13, 1986) was born Dorothy Jeanne Ashby. One of the first harpists to contribute to the classic hard bop and jazz-funk recordings, she grew up in the Detroit scene, where her father, guitarist Wiley Thompson, rehearsed with jazz musicians at his home, where Dorothy played the piano in the background. 

She played saxophone and bass in the Cass Technical High School Band, where jazz greats Donald Byrd, Gerald Wilson, and Kenny Burrell attended.  She wanted her own harp because, at school, fourteen other students shared five harps. She commented, "This isn't just a novelty, though that is what you expect. The harp has a clean jazz voice with a resonance and syncopation that turn familiar jazz phrasing inside out." She attended Wayne State University, for piano and music education. When she graduated, Dorothy went to work in lively Detroit jazz scene. 

Although she could work as a pianist, she wanted to play harp more and, in 1952, she bought her harp. To contest the resistance to the concept of the harp as a jazz instrument, she organized free shows and played for dancers with her trio that included her husband John Ashby on drums. They toured and recorded on a number of jazz labels in the 1960s. Dorothy played with Louis Armstrong, Woody Herman, and others, and in 1962, was nominated in down beat's annual poll of best jazz performers. 

She worked with John Ashby, who founded the Ashby Players, a theater company in Detroit. In the late 1960s, tired of touring, they relocated to California, where Dorothy broke into the closed studio system, which had enough harpists. Bill Withers recommended her to Stevie Wonder. She did a steady stream of recording session with Dionne Warwick, Diana Ross, Earth, Wind & Fire and Barry Manilow.


  • Dorothy Ashby--Jazz Harpist, Regent MG-6039

  • Hip Harp, Prestige PRLP-7140

  • Soft Winds, Jazzland JLP-961

  • Dorothy Ashby, Argo LPS-690

  • The Fantastic Jazz Harp of Dorothy Ashby, Atlantic

  • Afro Harping, Cadet LPS-809

  • Dorothy's Harp, Cadet LPS-825

  • Rubaiyat, Cadet LPS-841

  • Music for Beautiful People, Prestige PRST-7639