Have you ever met a legend before they blew up? Something about them convinces you that they have the ability to go all the way, they simply possess the “it” factor. I am certain those that come across Ashley Dubose’s music or witness her perform form the same conclusion, “she is going to make it big one day!”
A diamond in the rough, emboding the quality and creativity of a major label artist yet still independent and faced with the struggle of quitting a job or following a dreams with no guarantees. Maintaining job security seems like the responsible thing to do when one has a child to care for. Dubose, a St. Kate Graduate currently employed as a programmer analyst, is also a mother of a precious three-year-old daughter. No stranger to hard work, she admits her adversities inspire her songs and she credits God for her musical accomplishments such as radio support and singing at Minnesota’s NFL, MLB, NBA, and WNBA team games. An authentic and undiscovered gem, I am delighted to tell you that Dubose took a moment to shed light on the realities of her personal struggles of being a single mother as well as her next project.
Before getting into the interview however, check out her latest music video “I Want A Love” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GaO6Sy3p10k
First of all, I just want to tell you how much I really enjoy listening to your album “Somethin’ More”. It’s amazing to me that you are producing this great work and are local. In my opinion I think there are 3 things that make you stand out, your vocals, songwriting and the level of quality of the entire packaged product. On a local level how were you able to achieve such excellence? And how long did you have to work to put it all together?
Thank you and I am very glad to know you enjoy the music on Somethin’ More! My producer, Jimmy Easy, and I worked together to complete this project over a 6 month span, with the bulk of the album being created between February and April (so about 2 months). The quality of the work is really due to our common sense for what sounded good and what needed correcting to the point where we each did what we needed to (careful construction of song lyrics, multiple recording takes, and many hours of mixing and mastering) to create a project that we both felt satisfied with. I believe it doesn’t matter where music is created — be it in a multi-million dollar studio in LA or in a few-thousand-dollar home studio in Maplewood, MN– if the people involved are each skilled, dedicated, motivated, and willing/able to put in the time required to make it the best it can be, the outcome will be a quality product.
Speaking of your excellent songwriting skills, is their a certain format or formula that you stick to? How did you learn how to be a good songwriter? Do you write for other artists?
I actually have noticed a pattern in my song writing, and in doing so, I have tried to diversify and switch it up intentionally so that I don’t get redundant, stylistically speaking. (My basic song structure is usually: Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Verse, Pre-Chorus, Chorus, Bridge, Chorus (2x).) I began writing song lyrics when I was about 10 years old. I pay attention to the lyrics and structure of songs by other artists and I pay special attention to national/international artists’ songs because they are clearly doing something right. I naturally take mental notes and later incorporate my notes even if subconsciously, in the songs that I write. I have always written songs with the intention of singing them (versus writing them for other artists) and I have not yet written for another artist, although I would open to doing that if the right opportunity presented itself.
When you first decided to “go for it” and release your album and music videos, what were your goals? Have you accomplished them yet and/or exceeded them?
I just wanted to get my voice, my ideas, and myself as an artist out there to get the ball rolling and see where life would take me from there. For a long time prior to completing and releasing my album and my first music video, I had those as major music goals of mine. I was SO happy and felt very excited, blessed, and a sense of personal and musical accomplishment when I achieved these goals.
Another goal of mine was to have a live band to perform with and because God is SO GOOD, I linked up with a number of wonderful musicians and together we have performed at many gigs around the Twin Cities.
How long have you been singing and when was the first time you realized that music was a career you would pursue?
I have been singing since I could remember the lyrics to the songs on the radio — which was about six or seven years old. As a pre-teen (10-12 years old — can’t remember the exact age) I knew that I wanted to become a recording artist. During that time, I would do a lot of song-writing in my room and would even record myself singing using a boom box (if you pressed the “STOP” button and the “RECORD” button at the same time, it would record sound onto a cassette — and that’s how I would record myself.)
Will you ever quit your job as a programmer analyst to pursue your music career?
(Man, that was super deep just now as I read this question.) In all honesty, I battle that question every single day at work. It’s deep. It’s hard to take leaps of faith. There is so much that is promised with a full-time salaried job with benefits and there is so much that is NOT promised with leaving it all to pursue my dream. The serenity prayer is my prayer in this situation: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I cannot change; the COURAGE to change the things that I cannot accept; and the WISDOM to know the difference.
Do you feel that being a young single mother has negative connotations?
It really depends. In my situation, yes. I was not married when I had my daughter, nor was I ever married to her father, and I was only 20 when I had her (19 when I became pregnant) so of course there is judgment that is passed by those who believe in marriage before sex and children. On the other hand, being a single mother has often earned me respect, encouragement, and “kudos” from those who understand that it takes hard work, resourcefulness, perseverance, the ability to multitask and to be self-motivated, to be a single mother and still manage to graduate from college, earn and maintain a full-time job and work towards my music dreams.
With all of your accomplishments, you have obviously overcome the odds that single mothers face, how did you do it?
I have been able to do all of these things because I have been blessed by GOD with the resources of loving and supportive family and friends, a wonderful program called the Jeremiah Program (a wonderful resource for single mothers and their children), and my own stubbornness that I refuse to quit working towards anything that I set my mind on.
How old is your baby girl? In raising a daughter, what do you think is the most important thing to instill in her?
My daughter is 3 year old and she is incredible! She is so smart, sweet, in-tune, silly, and irresistibly loveable. Among other important traits/values, I think the most important thing to instill in my daughter is confidence. It’s something that I struggle with in many areas of my life and it’s no surprise that I want her to not have the experiences that I have had with low-self esteem and lack of confidence. I want my daughter be embrace and be happy with who she is, internally and externally and to live with confidence. Coupled with confidence is the trait of individuality — something that I have noticed in myself, and appreciate. I want her to NOT do what everyone else does just because it’s popular, but to have her own mind and be confident in her ideas, opinions, and choice to be different; if she chooses to do what’s popular, I want her to do it because she truly wants to and feels that it aligns with and is expressive of who she is.
So far you have released 3 music videos for the album “Somethin’ More”, can we expect more videos from the album?
Yes, I will definitely be releasing another video for another song on the album! If I had it my way, there would be a video for EVERY song on the album!
Are you currently working on another project? If so, we want details!
I am currently in the planning phase — soon to be in the creation phase — of an acoustic EP, featuring songs from my album, Somethin’ More, which I will be released in mid-June. I hope to get started on a second album this summer.
What do you think of the current state of the music scene in the Twin Cities? Who are some people that you admire locally/nationally?
I think there is an overwhelming amount of musical talent in Twin Cities spanning all genres. The Twin Cities is a great place for an artist/band to get started as there are a lot of nice venues to play at and most of these places have open arms for local talent; there is the ability to get radio airplay with stations such as KFAI, KMOJ, The Current, and more; and there are people who will listen to, support, and share the music of talented local musicians. It seems to me that many artists feel that they have to leave the Twin Cities to make a name for themselves, and, although it has happened for a select few that way, it doesn’t have to be this way. I hope I can build a large fan-base right here at home before having to leave for LA, New York, Atlanta or any of the other big cities that have great music opportunities.
I admire many of my fellow local music-makers, including Mike Dreams, Brother Ali, BDotCroc, and the masterminds behind the Beats & Rhymes program. Some of the national artists that I admire include: India Arie, Jazmine Sullivan, Rihanna, Justin Bieber (why do I feel funny saying that? I really like him — he’s super talented), and Ledisi.
If you could go on a vacay anywhere in the world where would you go & why?
I would go to Hawaii with my family (my daughter, my mother and my 3 siblings) because we have never been on a vacation together and I’ve just always wanted to go there with them.
You say that India Arie is one of your influences, what is it about India Arie that you admire, that inspires you?
Musically speaking, I love her vocal tone, her riffs and runs, her melodies, her song lyrics, and her artist image!! There is SO much about her that just works for me. I like that she has mass appeal and is a household name, no matter what household we’re speaking of; her music is universal, geographically speaking and in terms of “relatability” (right now, my computer is telling me that relatability is not a word). I love that she is associated not with sexual appeal, fashion statements, and/or controversy, but instead with everything that I want to be associated with and that is good, feel good music, peace, love, and philosophy.
Thanks for taking the time, what’s next for Ashley DuBose?
I plan to start writing for my second album in May and will be performing at Shaiwna “Lioness” Adams’ Mixtape Release Party on Friday April 26th at the Fine Line Music Café.
You may listen and download Ashley Dubose’s Album “Somethin’ More” online at www.ashleydubose.com
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