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Bertha Hope

Jazz pianist Bertha Hope-Booker was born on November 8, 1936, to Corinne Meaux and Clinton Rosemond. Raised in western Los Angeles, California, Hope-Booker attended Manual Arts High School. As a youth, she performed in numerous Los Angeles clubs. Hope-Booker studied piano at Los Angeles Community College and later received her B.A. degree in early childhood education from Antioch College.

In her youth, Hope-Booker played music with and learned from other young musicians in her neighborhood. Some of them became famous later, including Richie Powell and Elmo Hope, the latter becoming her husband in 1957. She moved with Elmo Hope to the Bronx, New York, where she worked at a telephone company during the day while performing at night. After her husband’s passing in 1967, she continued to present his music and remained an active force in improvised music within the New York jazz scene. Hope-Booker served as an artist-in-residence under the auspices of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts. Through this program, she performed in statewide New Jersey music workshops with Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Nat Adderley and Philly Joe Jones.

Hope-Booker later married Walter Booker, Jr., and the two worked to keep the music of Elmo Hope alive through Hope-Booker’s tribute ensemble called ELMOllenium and The Elmo Hope Project. She also plays with another group, Jazzberry Jam. In addition, Hope-Booker is the leader of The Bertha Hope Trio, which has toured extensively throughout Japan. She is a composer and arranger with several recordings under her name, including In Search of Hope and Elmo’s Fire (Steeplechase); Between Two Kings (Minor Records) and her latest on the Reservoir label, Nothin’ But Love. Hope-Booker has also taught an advanced jazz ensemble at The Lucy Moses School and an Introduction to Jazz program at Washington Irving High School in New York City, which was sponsored by Bette Midler. The Seattle-based trio, New Stories, has recorded a CD of Hope-Booker's music entitled, Hope Is In the Air.

Bertha Hope-Booker was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on November 1, 2007.

Accession Number

A2007.315

Sex

Female

Interview Date

11/1/2007

11/29/2007

12/5/2017

Last Name

Hope

Maker Category
Marital Status

Widow

Occupation
Schools

Manual Arts High School

Antioch College

Los Angeles City College

Birdielee V. Bright Elementary School

James A. Foshay Learning Center

First Name

Bertha

Birth City, State, Country

Vicksburg

HM ID

HOP02

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Mississippi

Favorite Vacation Destination

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Favorite Quote

Education Is Not A Preparation For Life. It Is Life.

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

New York

Interview Description
Birth Date

11/8/1936

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

New York

Country

USA

Favorite Food

Crawfish

Short Description

Jazz pianist Bertha Hope (1936 - ) was the leader of the Bertha Hope Trio. She served as an artist-in-residence under the auspices of the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, and was the leader of a tribute ensemble, ELMOllenium, and the Elmo Hope Project, in honor of her late husband and jazz musician, Elmo Hope.

Employment

Kaufman Music Center's Lucy Moses School

Washington Irving High School

Favorite Color

Turquoise

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DAStories

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673811">Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bertha Hope's interview</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673812">Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope lists her favorites</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673813">Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's dance career, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673814">Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's dance career, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673815">Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673816">Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope describes her father's family background</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673817">Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope remembers her home in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673818">Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope describes her father's U.S. Army service</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673819">Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope describes her father's career in show business, pt. 1</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673820">Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope describes her father's career in show business, pt. 2</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673821">Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's decision to retire from dancing</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673822">Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers her paternal grandfather</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673823">Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes her mother's role in the community</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673824">Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope talks about her relationship with her father</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673825">Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope remembers her family's garden</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673826">Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope talks about West Coast jazz</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673827">Tape: 2 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope lists her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673828">Tape: 2 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope remembers her chores</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673829">Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope describes her relationship with her siblings</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673830">Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes the sights, sounds, and smells of her childhood</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673831">Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers the 36th Street School in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673832">Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope recalls her early music lessons</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673833">Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes the Westminster Presbyterian Church of Los Angeles</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673834">Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope recalls her performances at James A. Foshay Junior High School in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673835">Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope recalls Manual Arts High School in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673836">Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope remembers the Dunbar Hotel in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673837">Tape: 3 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope recalls her early work as a pianist in Los Angles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673838">Tape: 4 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope recalls meeting Marian Anderson and Dinah Washington</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673839">Tape: 4 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her musical contemporaries in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673840">Tape: 4 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope recalls her introduction to bebop music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673841">Tape: 4 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about her interest in harmonization</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673842">Tape: 4 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers studying piano under Richie Powell</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673843">Tape: 4 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope remembers Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673844">Tape: 4 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope recalls her first marriage</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673845">Tape: 5 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope remembers Eric Dolphy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673846">Tape: 5 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers the Clifford Brown and Max Roach Quintet's rehearsals</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673847">Tape: 5 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope describes the differences between bebop and swing music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673848">Tape: 5 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about the emergence of bebop</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673849">Tape: 5 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope recalls the pioneers of bebop music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673850">Tape: 5 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope reflects upon the popularity of bebop music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673851">Tape: 5 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope talks about listening to music as a musician</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673852">Tape: 6 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope remembers Los Angeles City College in Los Angeles, California</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673853">Tape: 6 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope recalls the discrimination against African American musicians</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673854">Tape: 6 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers the deaths of Richie Powell and Clifford Brown</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673855">Tape: 6 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about jazz musicians' classical training</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673856">Tape: 6 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes Johann Sebastian Bach's influence on jazz</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673857">Tape: 6 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about the emergence of jazz institutions</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673858">Tape: 6 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope talks about contemporary jazz education</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673859">Tape: 6 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope remembers meeting her husband, Elmo Hope</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673860">Tape: 7 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope remembers meeting Elmo Hope</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673861">Tape: 7 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her fellow musicians' perception of her gender</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673862">Tape: 7 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers her decision to marry Elmo Hope</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673863">Tape: 7 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope remembers moving to New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673864">Tape: 7 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope describes the jazz community in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673865">Tape: 7 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope recalls her performances in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673866">Tape: 7 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope recalls the prevalence of drug use in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673867">Tape: 8 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope reflects upon her move to New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673868">Tape: 8 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers the effects of her drug use</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673869">Tape: 8 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope remembers her husband's death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673870">Tape: 8 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes her efforts to preserve her husband's music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673871">Tape: 8 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers teaching in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673872">Tape: 8 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope recalls teaching a jazz education workshop</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673873">Tape: 8 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope reflects upon the healing effects of music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673874">Tape: 9 Story: 1 - Slating of Bertha Hope's interview, session 3</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673875">Tape: 9 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her reasons for moving to New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673876">Tape: 9 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope talks about her husband's ban from playing on the East Coast</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673877">Tape: 9 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope describes how she came to work for the American Bell Telephone Company</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673878">Tape: 9 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers performing with Jeni LeGon</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673879">Tape: 9 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about the influence of Johann Sebastian Bach's music on jazz</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673880">Tape: 9 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope describes the history and styles of bebop music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673881">Tape: 9 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope recalls her early experiences with jazz music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673882">Tape: 9 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope describes her early music lessons</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673883">Tape: 10 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope talks about the different instruments she played</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673884">Tape: 10 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers meeting her husband</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673885">Tape: 10 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope recalls playing with Jimmy Castor and the Johnny Otis Orchestra</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673886">Tape: 10 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about the gender inequalities in the music industry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673887">Tape: 10 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope remembers experiencing sexual harassment within the music industry</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673888">Tape: 10 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about the differences between the East Coat and West Coast music scenes</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673889">Tape: 10 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope remembers her husband's drug addiction and death</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673890">Tape: 10 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope describes the musical style of Elmo Hope</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673891">Tape: 10 Story: 9 - Bertha Hope recalls her fight with depression following the death of her first husband</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673892">Tape: 11 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope describes her work at the Goddard Riverside Community Center in New York City</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673893">Tape: 11 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope remembers performing with the Kit McClure Band</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673894">Tape: 11 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope talks about the formation of her first band with Cobi Narita</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673895">Tape: 11 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope remembers Cobi Narita</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673896">Tape: 11 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope talks about the formation of Jazzberry Jam</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673897">Tape: 11 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope talks about her second husband, Walter Booker</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673898">Tape: 11 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope describes the musical career of her second husband, Walter Booker</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673899">Tape: 11 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope talks about the ELMOllenium project</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673900">Tape: 12 Story: 1 - Bertha Hope talks about the musical legacy of Elmo Hope</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673901">Tape: 12 Story: 2 - Bertha Hope describes her solo albums</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673902">Tape: 12 Story: 3 - Bertha Hope reflects upon the state of jazz music</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673903">Tape: 12 Story: 4 - Bertha Hope talks about her daughter's career</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673904">Tape: 12 Story: 5 - Bertha Hope talks about her plans for the future</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673905">Tape: 12 Story: 6 - Bertha Hope reflects upon her legacy</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673906">Tape: 12 Story: 7 - Bertha Hope reflects upon her life</a>

<a href="https://da.thehistorymakers.org/story/673907">Tape: 12 Story: 8 - Bertha Hope shares her advice for aspiring musicians</a>

DASession

1$2

DATape

3$7

DAStory

9$1

DATitle
Bertha Hope recalls her early work as a pianist in Los Angles, California
Bertha Hope remembers meeting Elmo Hope
Transcript
My own experience in the city [Los Angeles, California]--I can't remember this man's name. I don't know why, and may--and I can't remember anybody who would remember how to remember him, but he was a blues player. He--and I used to go to this club, and he was playing there. I sat in one night, and he asked me if I would be interested in working with him. I was underage for one thing (laughter). I wasn't supposed to be in there, but my mother [Corinne Meaux]--but I had told my mother that I had, had been there, and he came home with me to ask my mother if I could work with him on--I think it was--it wouldn't interfere with anything that I was doing, but like one night a week, Friday night, and, and I could--and I wanted to because here was a chance to work with a blues person, but I didn't have any business in this bar. So my mother said to him, "You know, I'm not supposed to let this child do this, so I'm, I'm putting her in your and God's hands. If anything happens to her, do you know you're going to jail?" (Laughter) And he said, "Yes, ma'am." He had his hat in his hand. "Okay, so we'll try it 'cause if she comes in here with liquor on her breath, or smelling like cigarettes, you going to jail. I know she wants to play this music, but you're going to jail." And she didn't say, "I'm coming with you," either. She didn't say, "You can do it but I'm coming with you." She told me I could, and she told him if anything happened to me, he was going to jail, so (unclear) (laughter).$$And he was hiring you to play piano?$$(Nods head) And he did. Boy, he--as soon as I got off that piano, he had a little place for me in the back, and he said, "Don't you move, don't you move," (laughter). But my mother let me do that, and I got a lot of ex- I mean it was a lot of experience. I guess maybe I was, I was about to graduate.$$Were you (simultaneous)--$$(Simultaneous) I was maybe fifteen, sixteen, you know, but I wasn't supposed to be in a bar, that's for sure. And then--I'm trying to think of one of the first people--well, my father [Clinton Rosemond] was the first person to hire me away from the jazz scene, but I played church concerts for him, and the very first one was he, he paid me seven dollars to play 'Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho' and 'Balm in Gilead' ['There Is A Balm in Gilead], and all of those black spirituals that were arranged by Hall Johnson. Then I was hired by--now, I'm getting a little closer to be--to graduating from high school [Manual Arts High School, Los Angeles, California]--Teddy Edwards, who was a tenor saxophone player, and a woman named Vi Redd, who's still active on the West Coast. I think she's teaching now, but she might even be in administration, but she's still, she's still playing. Vi Redd hired me, and--who else? Vernon Slater was another tenor player, and the rooms that I played in were like--there was the Root Yacht [ph.], the Oasis--the Club Oasis [Los Angeles, California]; I worked with Johnny Otis Big Band, with Little Esther Phillips, in the Oasis, and she must have been about--I guess we were both about the same age, maybe 14, 15, 16. There was a room called The Purple Onion [San Francisco, California], and then there was another room owned by Kenny Dennis. Kenny Dennis--I think he was married to [HistoryMaker] Nancy Wilson--real pretty room. I played solo piano in there, and I can't remember the name of that room. It was a real pretty room up in Hollywood [Los Angeles, California]. Where else? Oh, the club, Troubadour [West Hollywood, California], was another room that I worked in, and it was kind of like a coffee house that was a little--maybe '52 [1952], '53 [1953], '54 [1954], and I can't think of any more rooms that I worked when I was a kid.$$Did your folks--clearly, your friends probably weren't supposed to be in the bar either, but did your folks ever come and see you play?$$My mother [Corinne Meaux] never came to see me play until she came to New York [New York]. She didn't come. She didn't like bars.$So, you've heard Elmo Hope before you actually meet him--$$Yeah.$$--and you meet him at this [HistoryMaker] Sonny Rollins date. Now, we also wanna hear just like what happened when you met him. The show was over and you went--I mean tell me--let's get the anecdotal--the real deal (laughter).$$The real deal? Well, the real deal was that I was pretty awkward and shy, really, really, but I knew that I was gonna figure out a way to meet him without looking too awkward and silly, so at the end of the first set, I went up to the bandstand. I got my nerve together and went up to the bandstand and I introduced myself and I told him I really loved his music and I had been taking lessons from Bud Pow--from Bud Powell's brother [Richie Powell], and he was sort of looking at me askance, you know? Oh, yeah--you know, sort of (laughter). And that I had been listening to his music and Thelonious' [Thelonious Monk] music and that I was trying to learn a little bit of all of it, and that I had picked this one song of his that--to learn on the piano. So then he went, "You trying to play my music?" And I said, "I really am." So then he told Sonny 'cause they were all at the table together. He said, "Sonny, this young lady says she's trying to play my music, you know?" So Sonny was polite, and I was getting more and more nervous because now I, I was really sorry that I said that. I should've just sat there and, you know, had a drink (laughter). I didn't drink, actually. I didn't drink at that--I think I was having a Coke or something.$$Do they give--$$(TAPE INTERRUPTION)$$--and I--so they went back on the stand and I think they had another set to go. I had a car. In L.A. [Los Angeles, California], that's the--that was a--that was big among the musical community 'cause I had another job at that time--I was a kid. And, and so I--I al- I always took musicians home if I was at the club, as long as I didn't have to get--you know, as long as it wasn't gonna take me too far out of--I would take them home but I didn't wanna have to wait around 'cause I had to get up early in the morning and go to work and school. I was going to school and work. So (laughter)--so, I offered to take him--I--first of all I, I wanted him to hear that I was really playing his music, so I offered to take him home if he didn't have a way home, but I wanted him to come by my place because I wanted (laughter) to play his music for him and I thought--I didn't think about that 'til years later how bold that was to ask him to come to my house to play the piano, really play the piano. So, he--I did, not that night; I think it was the first night that I went, but I went every night to hear them, and at that time they came out for like six--when it was either one-week engagement or two, and it was six nights a week. So the last night--and I went every night. On the last night, I, I offered to take him by my house first to--so--because I really wanted him to hear that I was not kidding, and so I did. So I brought him by my house and I had a Wurlitzer Spinet at the time, and I played this piece for him. He used to smoke Pall Mall cigarettes and he had this cigarette hanging outta the side of his mouth over here, and he said, "Oh, you're not kidding; you really are serious. I didn't believe you, you know." And I was--I mean that just really vindicated the whole thing--that I had really worked hard enough to, to get the song played and to convince him to come over my house and hear it, you know, and then take him home you know (laughter). So--so that was the beginning of, of our--of my seeing him more and more.