At three, Bertha Hope wanted to play piano.
She studied music theory in high school and L.A. City College, met Eric Dolphy and Bud Powell's brother Richie who became her teacher.
In 1960 she married Elmo Hope, moved to the Bronx, and played with musicians including Jimmy Castor. She played workshops in the tri-state area with Dizzy Gillespie, Frank Foster, Philly Joe Jones and Nat Adderley who became a friend and mentor.
Elmo died in 1967. Together with long time companion, bassist Walter Booker, Jr., she formed ELMOllenium, a tribute ensemble.
In 1982, Bertha joined the women's Kit Mc Clure Big Band, the pre cursor to DIVA.
As co-founder of the all-women's quintet, Jazzberry Jam! she toured Europe and Japan.
Bertha appeared in the 2013 Galway Jazz Festival. She's played NYC clubs including Bradley's, Jazz Standard, Knickerbocker, Birdland, Lenox Lounge, Dizzy's Club Coca-Cola, Apollo Theater and the Kennedy Center in D.C. She has four c.d.'s and a fifth is underway.
Bertha received two lifetime achievement awards; one in 2002 from Cobi Narita's Jazz Coalition
and the second from Dr. Billy Taylorin 2005 at the Mary Lou Williams Jazz Festival in Washington, D.C.
In 2014, Bertha's three year oral history project was made available in the Library of Congress,
and she was celebrated as a Bronx Living Legend by the Bronx Music Heritage Center.
A former Jazz Mobile teacher she now teaches at Manna House Workshops, East Harlem.