Industry leaders Fred and Dinah Gretsch, Jerry Ash, members of the Ash Family and The NAMM Foundation have created the Bernice Ash Memorial Award. The award honors the remarkable life and legacy of Bernice Ash. Bernice was a music retail visionary who spearheaded the expansion of the Sam Ash family-owned music stores, broadening inventory for the chain across multiple new categories.

The idea for the award came from Fred and Dinah Gretsch. To start the fund, the pair offered a donation of $50,000. Jerry Ash and the Ash Family, Hal Leonard’s Larry Morton and other industry supporters matched this donation.

Fred Gretsch expressed that the long, shared history between the two families inspired the donation. “Dinah and I have worked in the music business for an amazing 98 years together,” he said. “Bernice and Jerry Ash have that number beaten by a mile. What terrific mentors they are to the Gretsch family and to the music industry as a whole.”

Bernice passed away on December 1, 2020 at the age of 90. She left behind a loving family, staff and grateful industry that will carry on her legacy. She began working at the Sam Ash Music Store in New York City in 1947, one year before marrying the founder’s eldest son, Jerry. After that, Bernice and Jerry continued the tradition of keeping the retail store in the Ash family. The industry widely recognizes Bernice as one of the pioneers of the development of the sheet music department.

What the Bernice Ash Memorial Award Entails

To continue her commitment to excellence within the industry, the award will annually recognize one or two winners each year with a one-time grant in the amount of $5,000 for use in continued college-level or trade-related studies and a travel stipend to attend the NAMM Show in Anaheim, Calif. Recipients will also receive a one-year mentorship through the NAMM Young Professionals organization.

Awards applicants must meet several criteria for consideration. Firstly, a NAMM member company must currently employ them. Secondly, that company’s owner or manager must identify an applicant as an up-and-coming industry leader. The inaugural award application will open June 15 and will close on September 30.

Addtionally, tax-deductible donations will raise an endowment within the NAMM Foundation. This endowment will fund the Bernice Ash Memorial Award for years to come. To donate or to learn more, click here.

“When the NAMM Foundation was established, it was our earnest hope that it could be a means to honor industry leaders like Bernice as beacons of optimism and creativity in music retail,” said Mary Luehrsen, executive director of the NAMM Foundation. “We are honored that her pioneering spirit will live on through the next generations of industry excellence.”

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