There have been very few jazz harpists in history and Dorothy Ashby was one of the greats. Somehow she was able to play credible bebop on her instrument. As a pianist she studied at Wayne State University in her hometown of Detroit, and in 1952 she switched to harp. Within two years, Ashby was gigging in jazz, and in 1956 she made her first recording as a leader. Between 1956-1970, she led ten albums for such labels as Savoy, Prestige, New Jazz, Argo, Jazzland, Atlantic, and Cadet, guested on many records, and was firmly established as a top studio and session player. She moved to the West Coast in the 1970s and was active up until her death in 1986.