Artistry: Artist Feature
Brave Soul Artist: Ashley Phillips

December 12, 2006 Print version       Other articles by this author

Our Brave Soul Artist for the month of December is a young lady who is truly in a league of her own.

Hers is a name you will want to remember: Ashley Phillips. Tim'm and I first had the opportunity to meet Ashley in late October of this year at a show we performed as a part of in Philadelphia. Hosted by Monica McIntyre, this show featured another one of Philly's best kept secrets, Anam Owili-Eger, DC's own talented brotha KUKU, as well as Tim'm West (along with yours truly and Antonio Covington on background vocals). Ashley took the stage right before intermission and all I can say is our mouths dropped after witnessing her open her mouth to reveal an angelic voice while she played the guitar with finesse.

After that weekend's performance in Philly, we quickly invited Ashley to join our talented lineup of individuals set to perform as part of our first fundraising/performance event, Brave Souls UNPLUGGED.

As we knew she would, Ashley quickly won the audience over with her lush arrangements, and the powerful instrument that is her voice. In a time when soul music, real music with a pulse that makes you FEEL something is in the minority, Ashley comes along as a breath of truly fresh air.

I think of my music as personal "...lyrical professions of life, love, and truth", so as I embrace my sexuality as a core piece of who I am, I also want to exude that in my music, and in my performance.

Captivating audiences with her intimately soulful and lyrical professions of love, life, and truth, Philadelphia-born Ashley Phillips is a singer/songwriter to watch out for. Influenced heavily by jazz/funk, pop, and progressive R&B, Ashley's unique blend of acoustic R&B and soul draws comparisons to such artists as Minnie Riperton, Amel Larrieux, Adriana Evans, and Dionne Farris. We at Brave Soul Collective felt that showcasing Ashley this month was the perfect way to round out an amazing year. We sat down with Ashley to get her feelings on making music, as well as a bunch of other topics. Prepare to be astounded by what you hear from our beloved sister.

With that said, we would like to present to you, the beautiful, gifted, Ashley Phillips. Enjoy...

How long have you been involved with music, playing guitar, singing and songwriting?

Growing up, I started singing in school choirs and then theater. Really, I have been singing my whole life. I picked up my first guitar when I was about 16-17, and have been self-taught ever since. My journey as a songwriter only started a couple years ago, when I finally made the choice to call this [singing/songwriting] a career.

As a songwriter and musician, do you have a specific process in terms of how you create songs? Do you write lyrics and then put them to music, or do you complete songs and then write lyrics and arrangements for them?

It depends. I have never found a set formula that I stick to. More often, I find that the music comes first. Then as the music takes shape, I find the words.

Who are some of your musical influences and inspirations?

Vocally, I find that I still have an affinity for House Divas. I really loved listening to 90's House divas like Cece Peniston. Something about those power house chops stirs my soul. The philly sound inspires me, as well as all of the independent artists and musicians that I've connected with along the way.

How do you feel about your generation's response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic? What do you feel can be done to help spread awareness and spark action?

I feel like my generation has a text book understanding of what HiV/AIDS is, and how it affects the world. I think it is important to see the HIV/AIDs epidemic globally, but also dealing with it simultaneously as a community issue, as a family issue. Even with statistics being put out there and facts and numbers, I think that so many people my age "other" themselves in this way that detaches them from the reality of HIV/AIDS. I think community outreach is important, and building a strong support within our communities, especially black queer communities, will help spread awareness.

How much of a role does your sexuality play in the expression of your artistry? As a new artist, how do you intend to handle the issue as it relates to your career?

I think of my music as personal "...lyrical professions of life, love, and truth", so as I embrace my sexuality as a core piece of who I am, I also want to exude that in my music, and in my performance. As a new artist, I understand the pressures to shape and mold yourself into something/someone marketable...well...sellable to a mass audience, and with all of that in mind I have made the decision to be uncompromising when it comes to being an OUT artist.
As a new artist, what do you seek to bring to the table or say with your music?
I simply want to say...well...what's on my mind, and that changes from day to day. I want my music to be a true vessel between my life, my thoughts, the lives beyond me and the world. Whew! It's a process.
Living or deceased, name one artist whom you'd love to work with if you could and explain why.
Minnie Riperton. I just think she's brilliant. Her voice and her music has so much depth and yet it is seemingly effortless.

Where does Ashley Phillips see herself in ten years? Do you still intend to be making music or are there other artistic endeavors you'd like to pursue?

I hope to make music for the rest of my life. I know that one avenue I would love to explore yet is theater. I have a projected idea of creating a soul/musical. We'll see where that idea takes me.

If you had to name one thing that you'd like people to gain from listening to your music, what would it be?

I know when I listen to a song that really resonates with me, whether it's the music or lyrics, I always have that moment when I say 'It makes me feel', or 'It reminds me of when'...and I hope my music can do the same for someone.

How would you define what it means to be a "brave soul"?

Brave Soul, to me, means that you are fearlessly living life to its fullest and inspiring others to do the same.
*To hear some samples of Ashley's amazing music and for more on her, please visit the following sites:*