Local songstress builds legacy by making a difference
As 2020 halted the world in its tracks, many recording artists were forced to adjust, pivot, and adapt to the uncertain times, leaving room for introspection and a chance to assess the landscape. Minneapolis-based singer and songwriter Ashley DuBose was no exception to the times, as she had to reconfigure a game plan in order to make ends meet.
Despite an impressive musical résumé that began nearly a decade ago and includes two full-length albums, a collection of hit singles including “Be You,” and an appearance on NBC’s “The Voice,” DuBose had to look from within during this stretch of her career. The changes even prompted her to reevaluate her calling.
“In 2020, I became very introspective as an artist, which really made me evaluate what I was doing, “said DuBose. “I had visions of touring and doing all of these amazing things, but then the rug got pulled out from underneath me and many other artists.
“This made me reflect on how and why I created music. It also made me think about life and its meaning. I was fortunate to receive opportunities for voice work during that time, especially after my calendar was wiped clean of performances. But there were moments when the outlook looked very bleak.”
This moment of self-assessment and self-reflection, combined with other events in 2020 such as the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, led the songstress to also ponder her social contributions and commitment to the Black community.
“I was deeply disturbed and emotionally impacted by the murder of George Floyd,” DuBose explained. “After George Floyd was murdered, everyone was wondering what they can do, and simultaneously Breonna Taylor was also murdered.
“Moments like this can really make a person feel helpless, and at first I felt helpless. As I sat in my thoughts, I wondered, ‘If these people in politics can’t do anything, what can I do? I’m not a politician and I’m not in a place of power where I can move the needle.’”
But when I was called by community leaders to come and perform at various rallies, I was more than happy to give my voice, contribute, and be present. It was such an honor to be in the company of others who were passionate about making a difference.”
Responding to this call to action, DuBose was able to make her presence felt at a variety of events and rallies including last year’s Juneteenth Community Festival and Rally for Justice as well as this year’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Celebration and Rally.
Musically, the artist has made it a point to celebrate and embrace her Blackness by releasing a song that captured the mood of 2020. Affectionately titled “Make Me Black,” the track is an affirmation and ode to Blackness, a welcome vibe following the tumultuous events of 2020.
“‘Make Me Black’ is a song I’d written prior to everything that happened in 2020,” she said. I wrote the song as a way to celebrate Blackness because being Black is all-encompassing, beautiful and diverse. Although there is no one way to be Black, we’re still a beautiful and resilient group of people despite the hardships we’ve gone through and still go through.”
To commemorate Women’s History Month, DuBose reintroduced “Torch,” a cut from a 2017 project that she believes has taken on various meanings. “‘Torch’ is like an empowering anthem. It can be looked at as a women’s empowerment anthem, but the message can be applied to all people as well,” said the songstress.
“The song can also be looked at as if a person is picking up a torch and carrying on a legacy. For me, I feel like this is what I’m doing inherently for the Minneapolis Sound, which is something I was not thinking about initially when the song was written. I recorded the song that day Prince passed away, so it has an extra meaning.”
On the horizon for DuBose are a series of new singles that the songstress plans to release throughout the bulk of 2021. The newly released “Boy Crazy” with Ne-Yo promises to be a hit and will likely put her and the Minneapolis Sound back in the spotlight.
The established musician and Twin City favorite is intent on walking in her purpose by positively affecting people through her music.
“As an artist, I want to be whole so that I can give people something of substance to help them along their journey through my music. Despite all that’s going on in the world, what keeps me going is knowing I have a purpose and that purpose is making a difference.”
Marquis Taylor is a contributing writer at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.