Brandee Younger, Marilu Donovan, Hannah Stater, and Madison Calley are the subjects of a new article from The New York Times titled “How the Harp Got Hip.” Author Alexis Garcia’s March 16 article outlines the harp’s stereotype as a “niche instrument” with “prudish rep” and profiles four harpists seeking to change the instrument’s image, calling it “not down to earth,” and “exhausting.” The piece chronicles some of their groundbreaking performances in jazz, pop, experimental music, and even the adult film industry.
Younger, who was featured on the cover of the January/February 2021 issue of Harp Column, says in the Times article she is “not the quintessential image of a harpist.” Throughout her career, she has traded Debussy and Ravel for Black jazz artists like Alice Coltrane and Dorothy Ashby. Donovan, a harpist in New York, told the Times she views the harp as a “multifaceted” instrument, which “can have so many different feels to it and still be beautiful.” Her work with experimental duo LEYA has been featured across multiple genres. Stater, a student at the University of Michigan, has garnered hundreds of thousands of followers on social media for her harp covers of pop tunes. Calley, a Los Angeles harpist with an Instagram following nearing half a million, was recently featured on Ariana Grande’s album Positions and in Roddy Rich’s latest Grammy performance. “I think once the pandemic hit everyone was on their phones looking for some escapism from all the craziness going on in the world,” she says in the article.