Born: March 27, 1850, Newark, Delaware.
Died: September 22, 1930, at her home in Nashville, Tennessee.
Buried: Mount Olivet Cemetery, Nashville, Tennessee.
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.