TRENDER: Country Artist Ashley Jordan
Wednesday, August 07, 2013
How has living in Central Mass played a role in your work?
Central Mass is pretty quiet–but maybe it has made me want to go in my own direction (there's really nothing else to do)! LOL! In school I didn't really feel that I fit in, so music was a nice outlet/escape to do what I loved. My high school was very academic and sports oriented–and pretty much everyone followed the path of going directly from this strong academic background right into college. It's not what I wanted though–and I sort of walked a different path when I decided that my senior year of high school I wanted to do a dual enrollment, taking college classes my senior year and attending traditional high school only on an abbreviated schedule so I could work on my music and perform at late nights gigs. It was something no one else was doing in our school and I always sort of felt like an outsider living a different life than my peers. Of course this set me up to be tortured by some of the typical "mean-girls" of high school, but that's another story. LOL! Anyway–I did quickly discover that Massachusetts has a wonderful network of open mics and local musicians who support one another. "I Support Local Music in Massachusetts" is an awesome organization that supports aspiring musicians.
How did you get started on your career and how did it take off?
I always loved music–I grew up around it as my grandfather was a folk singer and played original and cover music on his guitar and harmonica. I was also exposed to country music when I was little because my mother's family is from Kansas/Missouri and I spent many summers in the Ozarks.
When I was about 13 years old I reportedly shocked my family when I sang on stage as part of a school talent show–and a newspaper photographer took my picture and put it on the front page with the caption "Next Teen Idol?” I remember feeling really good about everything related to that performance and when I was on stage for the first time I knew that it was what I wanted to pursue. So I started learning guitar on my own and later with the help of a family friend who was a musician (Pete Messina!). Soon after I competed in a MA Teen Idol competition and then started going regularly to open mics with my parents driving me around and helping me carry my gear. My parents have always been totally supportive and gone to every one of my performances–which says a ton because one year we looked back and realized that I had performed well over 200 times that year! My mom has also been my sidekick/manager all these years and helped me with everything from setting up my website to setting up my sound system!
Then one time when I was about 15 years old, I was at an open mic and the featured musician that night was a guy by the name of John Gerard who performed original music. His performance was so incredible and emotional that I knew I wanted to perform and write music like him. I remember walking right up to John Gerard and asking him straight out if he would teach me to play guitar like he played. In hindsight it was a brave move, because John is a tough-looking tattooed guy who seemed pretty unapproachable. But it turned out John was a wonderful/generous guy and he agreed to work with me–which is pretty much when everything started to come together. I was writing more and more of my own music and getting out to perform at bigger venues. One of the first things I also did was hit the streets! I started busking (street performing) down in Cambridge, MA and that really helped me to overcome any performance fears I had and gave me an outlet to try out my original music (not to mention it gave me some pretty interesting experiences and stories to tell)! Eventually John Gerard asked me to open for him at some of his concerts and he even assisted me with setting up my first recording session with producer Steve Rapson. Soon other venues allowed me to perform, and then when I was 16 years old I completed my first CD titled "Simple Love".
There have been so many wonderful/generous people through the years that have come into my life and given me amazing opportunities. When I was 19 years old, Don Hooper of Juke Village Records heard me perform at the Bolton Fair and he offered to fully produce and fund my second CD, "Liquid Words"! Most recently I've had the good fortune of meeting the awesome crew at Big Crush Records (Joe Graham, John Fleming and Andrew Brodeur) and they have been guiding me in my career and helping me set up my first Kickstarter project so my fans/supporters could pledge to fund the recording of my next album. The Kickstarter campaign ended successfully in June and I'm now in a Boston studio recording my third CD of all-original music with producer Adam Jensen! So, my music career has definitely been a grass-roots effort with tons of support from family, friends and fans...and I'm overwhelmed and thrilled to look back and see the progress that I've made over the past 7+ years.
What is on your agenda for the upcoming months?
My newest CD will be ready for release in September–and then I will be out on tour performing and getting my new music out there! I also have big plans for doing several new music videos and hope to work again with Anthony Caddigan of Dark White Media. My first music video "Fading Away" was well-received when I released it earlier this year and I really enjoyed this visual/creative aspect of my music, so I look forward to future videos! I have other performances coming up too, and you can check out my calendar at www.AshleyJordanMusic.com.
You have covered a lot of ground at a young age, what are your future dreams as an artist?
I have SO many dreams! I don't focus too much on the end result, to me it's more about all the wonderful things along the way. Every time something amazing happens, I think about how that was my dream come true, but then I set another goal and that's my new dream. So I just try to keep moving forward and do what I love and as long as I am feeling true to myself I feel like it's in the right direction. In the end, it's writing new music that most motivates me so I hope to continue writing and having people connect with what I do. I also really love to write music that has impact and touches on serious subject matter. I think I have an old soul and I feel a connection to folk singers from the past who wrote about issues going on around them. My song and music video "Fading Away" addresses the subject of eating disorders and how families feel helpless as a loved one fades away, and I also recently wrote a song called "New England Tears" that talks about the recent tragedies of the Connecticut school shootings and the Boston Marathon. I'm trying to find my lighter side too though and write songs about being young and growing up. I guess in the end my dream would be that people would know my name because of the music I've written.
What are the challenges you face as a country artist in Massachusetts?
People often don't think of Massachusetts when they think of country music! But actually, you'd be surprised about how well received country music is in Massachusetts and how many artists and venues support this style of music. And country music is such a broad term–there are so many styles including my favorite that sort of blends folk and country–which seems to be making a bit of a comeback. When I first started performing country music I felt like a bit of a loner–but there are actually several very cool organizations in Massachusetts that support country music: NECMO (New England Country Music Awards Org.) and MCMAA (Massachusetts Country Music Awards Assoc.), to name a few. I recently competed locally at NECMO and won six awards last weekend (female vocalist of the year, female entertainer of the year, song of the year, runner-up song of the year, music video of the year, and instrumental duo) which will allow me to move on to Pigeon Forks, TN in 2014 to continue the competition. It's nice to be in an atmosphere that stands behind country music here on the east coast!
What has been your greatest reward?
That's a tough question! Probably my greatest reward has been when people have contacted me or pulled me aside at a show and told me that my song has impacted them in some way. I've had the pleasure of meeting so many wonderful people when I'm out performing or when people contact me online...but really, when someone comes up to me and relates one of my songs to something that's going on in their life and how it made them feel, it just really hits me in a powerful way. Of course it's always a wonderful reward to get to perform at a new and amazing venue or to get the honor of opening for someone that I really admire, but when I get positive feedback from people that I've never met before, I think I get the biggest surge of energy that keeps me moving forward!
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