born November 8, 1936
|Los Angeles, CA
A dynamic force in improvised music, pianist Bertha Hope has been making headway in the jazz scene since the early 1960s. Raised in Los Angeles, Bertha attended Manual Arts High School. She began her jazz journey with pianists Elmo Hope and Richie Powell in her youth. Although she studied piano at Los Angeles Community College, she received her B.A. in early childhood education from Antioch College. She married Elmo in 1960; they moved to New York where Bertha worked as a telephone operator by day and performed at night.
In 1961 both Elmo and Bertha recorded together for the Riverside label on an album called "Hope-full." After Elmo's passing in 1967 she decided to devote her career to promoting Elmo's music. During her marriage to bassist Walter Booker, Jr., they created two ensembles called ELMOllenium and the Elmo Hope Project.
Bertha served as an artist in residence for the New Jersey State Council on the Arts where she performed with Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Nat Adderley and Philly Joe Jones. She gained exposure for her own music in the 1990s with the groups Jazzberry Jam and The Bertha Hope Trio, and she toured extensively in Japan. She recorded several albums during the '90s including "In Search of Hope," "Elmo's Fire," "Between Two Kings" and "Nothin' But Love." She teaches advanced jazz ensemble at The Lucy Moses School, and an "Introduction to Jazz" program at the Washington Irving High School (sponsored by Bette Midler). In 2014 she was honored at the Bronx Music Heritage Center with a tribute concert. She continues to perform in the New York area and beyond.