Welsh says when she started working with Phillips on the book in 1990, it was to help her write her memoir, but when Phillips became ill, they put the book aside. After she passed away, Welsh says, she still wanted to tell the stories.
"She had a wonderful memory, and she just remembered it all," says Welsh. "They're such good, wonderful, important stories. I thought, well, I could go ahead and write them as a biography. So I went and did a lot more research and backed them up."
Welsh says she originally wanted to help Phillips with her memoir because she was fascinated by her stories.
"She knew such great people, and frankly she remembered such funny things about them," says Welsh. "She had the sharpest eye, and she would catch funny mistakes, personality quirks. And I thought it was wonderful, because they were great musicians but they were also human."
Phillips joined the Philadelphia Orchestra when she was just 23 years old, after the famous conductor Leopold Stokowski discovered her through her teacher and Stokowski's friend Carlos Salzedo, who is generally regarded as history's greatest harpist.
Phillips had been practicing the harp for only five years and was still in the midst of learning under Salzedo at the Curtis Institute of Music when she received the audition with Stokowski.