The Bernice Ash Memorial Scholarship Fund announced the first two recipients of its award, Kwanté Greenidge, general manager of Sam Ash Music – Brooklyn and Anna Nguyen, digital marketing analyst at Yamaha Corp. of America. The scholarship, which was founded in 2021, honors the remarkable life and legacy of Bernice Ash, 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.
As the scholarship awardees, both Greenidge and Nguyen will receive a one-time grant of $5,000 for use in continued college-level or trade-related studies and a travel stipend to attend The 2022 NAMM Show, June 3-5 in Anaheim, California. In addition, both recipients will also receive a one-year mentorship through the NAMM Young Professionals organization.
Greenidge shares, “This award means a lot to me! It’s an honor to represent Sam Ash at this year’s NAMM Show…Although I never had the chance to meet Bernice, I’ve heard countless stories about her vision and love for music from fellow co-workers. With this award, I will not only be able to further my education in Music Business but also enhance my leadership qualities and skills at Sam Ash and further my entrepreneurial goals. I look forward to all the future opportunities to better myself and help those around me.”
“It is an honor to be a Bernice Ash Memorial scholarship recipient,” says Nguyen. “Winning this award is not only a personal accomplishment but an accomplishment on behalf of the greater music community as I intend to pay it forward and uplift other exceptional people who are making an impact in music along my career journey.”
Sammy Ash, President of Sam Ash Music Corp., says, “I’m so happy with the two recipients of the very first Bernice Ash NAMM Scholarships. These two deserving people will get a lot out of the NAMM Show, and I will do my best to guide them along. I am looking forward to hearing what higher learning courses they will choose. I know my mother would be very pleased with who was chosen; I know my Father Jerry is! Thanks again the Dinah and Fred Gretsch for their amazing donation to get this started and to Joe Lamond and NAMM who made it happen.”
The Bernice Ash Award was launched in 2021 at NAMM’s Believe in Music virtual gathering. The idea for the award was led by Fred and Dinah Gretsch, who, to start the fund, offered a generous donation of $50,000, matched by Jerry Ash and donations from the Ash Family, Larry Morton of Hal Leonard, and other industry supporters. 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. Bernice and Jerry Ash have that number beaten by a mile. What terrific mentors they are to the Gretsch family and the music industry as a whole.”
Bernice Ash passed away on December 1, 2020 at the age of 90, leaving 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. Bernice and Jerry continued the tradition of keeping the retail store in the Ash family. Bernice is widely recognized as one of the pioneers of the development of the sheet music department, which included purchasing and inventory. As the head of sheet music for all the Sam Ash locations, Bernice designed methods and procedures that resulted in great working relationships with the publishers and many satisfied customers.
To be considered for the award, applicants must be current employees of a NAMM Member company, nominated by that company’s owner or manager, identified as an up-and-coming industry leaders seeking further professional development to enhance their career and service to the industry. The inaugural award application opened June 15, 2021, and closed September 30, 2021.
“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 in Greenridge and Nguyen.”
Nguyen concludes, “As an employee in the music products industry, I have the unique joy of helping to make more music makers. The NAMM Show is a time when I can see with my own two eyes the impact that my work is having, and I get to engage in my favorite aspect of music, which is the community aspect. I expect this year’s NAMM Show will be particularly moving as it’s been so long since we’ve joined together in music, and I can’t wait to be face-to-face with fellow music lovers!”