Adele Girard


Adele Girard (1913 - 1993) was a jazz harpist associated with the Dixieland and swing (genre)s. She is one of the first jazz harpists with only Casper Reardon predating her. As a musician she is known by her birth name "Adele Girard", but she became "Adele Girard Marsala" on marriage to jazz clarinetist Joe Marsala. 

Adele Girard had classical training in the harp and her mother was an opera singer. This musical background and her choice of instrument made her an unusual figure in jazz. Initially she played piano at lounges and later worked as a singer for Harry Sosnik. At the instigation of her mother, and due to her tendency to trip in the high heels female singer then wore, she began to play harp for his orchestra as a novelty. She went on to play with Jack Teagarden and did work at the Hickory House. She also spent time in California where she screen-tested for the role of Scarlett O'Hara and had a minor role in a film. She eloped with Joe Marsala in 1937. Her mother was at first unhappy on discovering this as she had Anti-Italianism prejudices. Still the marriage to Joe would be beneficial and, in part because both musicians were Catholic, the marriage continued for the next forty years. Although professionally the couple had difficulty after the rise of bebop as both had trouble adjusting to it. 

She became inactive in the late 1940s and much of the 1950s. However in the 1960s she worked in musical theater and also did piano work again. She continued to perform after the death of her husband with one of her best regarded CDs being a release from 1992, a year before her death. 





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