By: Joliet Dave
In a world where studio enhanced trickery determines success over actual artistic talent, Ashleigh Ashton is a breath of fresh air. At just 18 years of age, Ms. Ashton is not just a motivational speaker and actress, but a rising star among area singer/songwriters.
Stylistically, Ashleigh is a pop artist with undertones laced in modern country. Unlike most in her age group, her tunes are not watered down children songs churned out by songwriters that have watched too much of the Disney channel. Instead, her art displays maturity far beyond her years both musically and in terms of subject matter. At the same time however, she is still completely accessible to her peers.
Tackling heady subject matter such as fear of loss and the changes that come with it (“Criminal”) or as on the single “Break In Two”, which deals with bullying, Ashleigh can produce music that touches a wide audience, regardless of age. Clearly her forte’ is ballads, and while the songs are very well written with intelligent lyrics and hook laden melodies, I hope she will churn out a few more up-tempo numbers. “Fall Out Of Love” is brilliant with its use of bass as a lead instrument and made for radio hooks but stands out even more so because it’s an up-tempo island in a sea of ballads.
What really sets Ashleigh apart though is that she makes every tune count so there is no filler here. The music business is rife with “songwriters” that use a formulaic approach in order to keep churning out drivel but every one of Ms. Ashton’s tunes are thought out and well written.
Normally, it’s the real artists like Pete Berwick, Devils In Angels, Psycho Sister and others that work hard and produce great material yet still get overlooked in the industry. In the case of Ashleigh Ashton however, she is getting the recognition she deserves. Fresh from her victory at the Chicago Independent Music Awards for “Pop Artist of the Year 2014”, a music video produced for “Break In Two” and a co-authored book titled “Break In Two: How I Survived Bullying and How You Can Too” about to be released, Ashleigh is undoubtedly a star on the rise.
From her start at age 9 singing karaoke in bars, she has since gone on to perform at festivals in New York and Florida, the Nashville Palace as well as venues around Chicagoland. In 2011 she sang and danced in a nationwide T-Mobile commercial and was a featured performer in the PBS program “Fear No Art Chicago”. On top of all this, she has also been a featured speaker, talking to teens in several high schools and the University of Wisconsin on the subject of bullying, a topic that she unfortunately, knows all to well.
While you may expect this young adult to be a diva-in-waiting, she is far from that. Coming from a large family of talented siblings, Dad Michael and Mom Kelly keep everyone grounded while at the same time encouraging the creativity that stirs within their offspring. I first became aware of her three years ago through Facebook and every opportunity we’ve had to talk, comment, share a link or “like” gig announcements, she has always been down to earth and obviously grateful for the success that she has had so far. It’s been amazing watching as she progressed from solo gigs in pizza restaurants to festival stages and video shoots. Ashleigh explained it to me this way, “Every bit of the journey has made me who I am and it has been awesome! I love when my music can be felt and when it makes a difference to someone.”
Talent in the house doesn’t stop with Ashleigh however as her sisters Alexa (“Wednesday Knight”) and Kaleigh-Michelle Wood handle guitar and keyboards respectively. Along with friend Jonah Andrews on drum duty, the band is looking forward to hitting stages throughout the summer.
When asked what advice she would give to young performers just starting out in the industry, Ashleigh said, “The music business is really all about connections, as anything good in life is and there is no fast and easy way. If you love it, do it and have fun with it.” She when on to add, “Not everyone is going to love you but if you are happy and know what you are doing touches people, that is all that matters.”
You can check out the music of Ashleigh Ashton at HYPERLINK "http://www.ashleighashton.com" www.ashleighashton.com or on Facebook.