Wondrous Love" (Ambient, smooth jazz) by Ashley K. Davis
"Wondrous Love" by Emmy-nominated and award-wining musician Ashley Davis is a Jazz/Ambient song with a lot of vibes... Ashley is a music consultant, arranger, and Director. The song is currently getting good radio airplay and has been playing in open Clubs and bars. Listen to the song and let us know your thoughts.
What first got you into music?
- I started playing piano at age 5. My mom was a musician. She played flute in the concert band and piano in church. She immediately identified the musical gift that I had. Both of my grandmothers were either singers and/or musicians in the church also, so music is “the family business,” so to speak.
How would you describe the music that you typically create?
- I would describe my music as ambient influenced by jazz, soul, gospel & classical. My musical background and taste is extremely diverse. All of my projects have had a travel motif attached to them. I’ve had the opportunity to travel to 30 countries and have lived in a number of different cities (London, New York, Vicenza, Dallas, et. al). The vicissitudes of life make for good songwriting and art. I realize that the consistent thing that has maintained my life during years of travel, some bad relationships/marriages, etc. was the love of God. His love is truly unfathomable and “wondrous”, if you will, hence my current offering “Wondrous Love.” The song itself is an old hymn of the church that I arranged. It is written in Dorian mode, so it has an exotic quality to it. With the instruments I used for the melody, it sounds very Eastern. This is also indicative of my travels.
What is your creative process like?
- I’m a pianist by training, so my composition process always begins at the piano. For my instrumental output, I always begin with a theme or some subject or idea. Even though my music is primarily instrumental, I compose like I’m writing for a singer. The voice gives a lyrical flavor as well as an emotional bent to the music. With that in mind, I try to make the piano or synth lead lines “sing” as a voice would. Life (personal issues and current events) and God are my primary inspirations and subject matter for composition. All of my past projects (Introspection, A Soul’s Odyssey, & Passport were autobiographical to a degree and writing them and performing them have been a source of personal therapy and healing for me.
Who would you most like to collaborate with?
- Sting, Peter Gabriel, Jonathan Butler, Larry Heard, Thomas Dolby, Quincy Jones, Alice Coltrane, Gino Vannelli, Stewart Copeland, Donald Lawrence & Richard Page.
If you could go open a show for any artist who would it be?
- Sting & Jonathan Butler absolutely!!
What is one message you would give to your fans?
- Producing good music & being an artist is like a slow-cooked home meal. It’s not a fast-food, overnight quick endeavor. I believe that the music that stands the test of time is music that was created slow & deliberate. I think that character also affects your artistry too. Character is who you are when you’re by yourself and nobody hears you but God. If you can stay humble, deliberate, open for development & musical & emotional evolution, I think that the sky is the limit. Be in love with yourself and with your own creativity. If you operate using what you have, I believe that will be enough to escort you into realms beyond your wildest imagination.
What is the most useless talent you have?
- Don’t have an answer for this one. If it’s a talent, how can it be useless?
Do you sing in the shower? What songs?
- I don’t really do much singing in the shower. I love the acoustical environment of the shower, so I do more instrumental and percussive-type of singing instead.
What would you be doing right now, if it wasn’t for your music career?
- In addition to being a music professional, I am also a minister. I’ve been involved in pastoral ministry for almost 20 years. I love ministry, so I’d probably be fully-immersed in working in a local church.
Where have you performed? What are your favorite and least favorite venues? Do you have any upcoming shows?
- As a traveling musician/sideman, I’ve performed in 30 countries. I’ve played in venues all over the world. My favorite places to play have been the IndigO2 in London, the Basilica of San Marco in Venice, Italy, MSG in New York, and, of course, the Cannon Center in my hometown of Memphis. I really don’t have a least favorite. Currently, I don’t have any live shows upcoming. The COVID-19 virus has canceled all of my future bookings for right now. I will have a live online concert that will be streamed through various outlets. It’s gonna be epic and conceptual, with video and interpretive dance elements throughout.
How do you feel the Internet has impacted the music business?
- It has had both a positive and negative influence. The upside is the ability to distribute music swiftly. Your music can be heard and purchased in NY, Berlin or Copenhagen at the same time and on the same day. The downside of the internet is the issue of piracy. With streaming packages and services like Spotify, YouTube, etc., it takes an inordinate amount of streams just to make any money at all. There’s no real money in recorded music these days. The money to be made is in performing and selling your merchandise at the gig.
What is your favorite song to perform?
- I love playing hymns for solo piano. My favorite hymn to play is the classic “It Is Well With My Soul,” by Horatio Spafford.
Which famous musicians do you admire?
- I have a few heroes: Bill Dixon (my first piano teacher), Eddie Pryor (my first organ teacher), John David Peterson, Thomas Dolby, George Duke, Jeff Lorber, J.S. Bach, Bill Meyer, & Michael Omartian are a few. My compositional/arranging influences are Debussy, Michael Colina, Quincy Jones, Cesar Franck, Michel Camilo, Michael Kamen, Hans Zimmer, John Williams, Isaac Hayes, Lester Snell, David Foster, just to name a few. I am also a die-hard Prince fan. His creativity & artist transparency, coupled with just sheer raw ability has always been inspirational for me.
What is the most trouble you’ve ever gotten into?
- 2 failed marriages. (haha!!)
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
- The best musical advice that I’ve ever received came from the guest conductor of the All-State Jazz Band that I auditioned and played for. After being completely off-base in my interpretation of Count Basie’s music, the jazz band director made a statement of great profundity: “Ashley, less is more.” My mother has a saying that I live by: “Never let anyone’s opinion become your reality.” My father had a saying equally as profound: “Son, a wise man learns from his mistakes, but a wiser man learns from the mistakes that somebody else makes.”
If you could change anything about the industry, what would it be?
- I’ve always been bothered by the “cookie-cutter” nature of the recording industry. When you get certain artists that are popular, what tends to follow is a wave of copycat artists with copycat songs. After a while, many artists start to sound alike. They have similar vocal styles & the songs are often flavored the same. This has been the marketing strategy of countless A&R reps, to go out and find “the next it-girl or boy” or to find another artist that sounds like “you know who.” The effect of this is simply trendy music and artists are forced to keep up so that the industry machine doesn’t grind to a halt. Popular music playlists are extremely narrow & songs have a seasonal shelf-life... As an educator, I also wish that the industry served a more purposeful function besides just churning out music for commerce. The arts are a powerful tool of social commentary and society is greatly impacted by the arts. If the industry would make this a priority as well as creating revenue, they would be on the cutting age of making the earth a better place. Why? Because the entire world loves music.
What’s next for you?
- I’m in the final stages of completing this full album project. I am exploring unique opportunities to perform music. My music is intended for healing, relaxation & personal reflection as well as being a soundscape for film, so I am open to those opportunities too. In addition to being an artist/composer, I am a college professor, teaching piano & music theory and I am a musical director in theater, so I am busy, busy, busy.