The Michigan harp community was shocked and saddened by the unexpected death of our dear friend Kelly Yousoufian, who died on July 26, 2021.
Kelly was an accomplished harpist and a 1980 graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy, who had performed in New York, Washington D. C., Toronto, San Francisco, Prague, and Paris. But for many who knew her, Kelly’s greatest accomplishment was her wonderful store, the Michigan Harp Center, in Clawson, just north of the Detroit city limits. The tiny shop, which Kelly operated for three decades, was like a magical forest of harps—lever harps, pedal harps, double strung harps, cross strung harps—she had them all and could teach you to play them. I always enjoyed taking my harp students or visiting harpers from out of town on a “field trip” to Kelly’s shop where she would tell us the stories of some of the amazing historical harps she had there and let us try them. She was so welcoming and knowledgeable about the many harps packed into the little store that visitors always came away delighted and amazed by the experience. Kelly and her store were the hub of the harp community in Michigan. I don’t think I’ve met a single harper in Michigan who didn’t know Kelly.
Since her death, I have been deluged by loving notes and remembrances from harpers not just in Michigan, but around the world, remembering how cheerful, kind, and encouraging Kelly was. Whatever we needed, Kelly usually had it. And if she didn’t, she knew where we could find it! She traveled far and wide in her ratty, old cargo van taking a load of harps to harp events around the country or driving hundreds of miles to check out an old pedal harp someone had found in a barn. The harp community in Michigan is large and robust and Kelly is a main reason for that. We will all miss her so very much. Rest in peace, dear friend.
—by Carol Kappus