1850–1930

Introduction

portrait

Born: March 27, 1850, New­ark, Del­a­ware.

Died: Sep­tem­ber 22, 1930, at her home in Nash­ville, Ten­nes­see.

Buried: Mount Ol­iv­et Ce­me­te­ry, Nash­ville, Ten­nes­see.

Biography

Ashford’s fa­ther was a mu­sic teach­er, and her mo­ther had a beau­ti­ful so­pra­no voice.

Emma could sing from child­hood, ev­en be­fore she could speak plain­ly, and music was an in­te­gral part of her home life.

When she was three years old, she sang a so­lo at a cha­ri­ty con­cert. By age five, she be­gan to ex­tem­po­rize al­to parts to songs and hymns. At age eight, she joined the church choir and the glee club, and was said to be the best sight read­er in both.

When she was 10 years old, she re­ceived the gift of a gui­tar, and could play the ac­com­pa­ni­ments with­in a few weeks. By this time she could also play the pi­a­no and or­gan.

At age 14, she moved with her fa­mi­ly to Ply­mouth, Mas­sa­chu­setts. There she be­came or­gan­ist at St. Pe­ter’s Epis­co­pal Church un­der Dud­ley Buck.

The next year, her fa­mi­ly moved to Sey­mour, Con­nec­ti­cut. While there, she stu­died pi­a­no with Mrs. Street, and pipe or­gan with Dr. An­de­rson.

At age 17, she mar­ried John Ash­ford (who was lat­er an of­fic­er of Van­der­bilt Un­i­ver­si­ty), and they moved to Chi­ca­go, Il­li­nois, where she sang al­to in a quar­tet at St. James Epis­co­pal Church. Af­ter about a year there, they moved to Nash­ville, Ten­nes­see.

Ashford com­posed eight sacr­ed and two se­cu­lar can­ta­tas, fif­ty songs, and for­ty pi­a­no piec­es, and ed­it­ed three mu­sic­al per­i­od­i­cals.

Sources

Music