Daily Archives: February 24, 2013

Throwback: Dorothy Ashby-Joyful Grass And Grape

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Dorothy Ashby was a Detroit-born jazz harpist who started her career in the ’50’s. She graduated from Cass Technical High School along with other jazz greats Donald Byrd, Kenny Burrell and Gerald Wilson. Piano was her initial instrument of study at Wayne State until she switched to the harp and released her first album, The Jazz Harpist in 1957. Her musical trio with her husband John toured the country in the ’60’s and she played with Woody Herman and Louis Armstrong among others.”Joyful Grass and Grape” is from her 1970 album The Rubaiyat of Dorothy Ashby. A number of songs from her 11-album catalog have resurfaced in the works of various hip-hop and R&B artists. “The Moving Finger,” “By The Time I Get To Phoenix,” “Come Live With Me,” “Cause I Need It,” “Soul Vibrations” and “Canto De Ossanha” are some of her most-sampled recordings. Her work can also be heard on albums from Stevie Wonder, Billy Preston, Gene Harris, Freddie Hubbard, Bobbi Humphrey, Bobby Womack and Sonny Criss. The Ashby Players was a theatrical production company started by Ashby and her husband. Actor Ernie Hudson appeared in their production of the play “3-6-9” in the ’60’s. The musician eventually relocated to California and became a studio musician for pop artists until her passing of Cancer in 1986.