Kay Ashley
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Kay Ashley

San Francisco, California, United States

San Francisco, California, United States
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Kay Ashley @ Bazaar Cafe

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco, California, USA

Kay Ashley @ Subterranean Arthouse

Berkeley, California, USA

Berkeley, California, USA

Kay Ashley @ Viracocha

San Francisco, California, USA

San Francisco, California, USA

This band has not uploaded any videos
This band has not uploaded any videos



Kay's voice and songs are both tender and clear (and) take us into the warmth of intimate emotions. With her guitar and melodies, she performs not only a great American pop ballad with a twist of blues, of groove, of world music . . . but she also opens up to a lot of joy. - Grammy Award Nominated Vocalist (Zap Mama)

. . . it's like the music of a temple of the future . . .

- Photographer

Kay Ashley's gorgeous, moving "Heliotrope" occupies a charmed point triangulated by Joni Mitchell's "Hejira," Paul Simon's "Graceland," and Nick Drake's "Pink Moon." A master of stacked vocal harmonies and alternate guitar tunings, Ashley's melodies are instantly memorable yet devoid of cliché. Like the reflective surveying instrument of the album's title, Ashley captures the whole spectrum of emotion, warm and distant, and re-focuses it with laser-clear precision on her songs' subjects. At once a love letter to Africa, India, and men in her past, "Heliotrope" is a travelogue of the soul—betraying the influence of far-flung cultures while remaining both recognizably American and distinctly universal. - SPIN Magazine contributing writer

Several things jump right out at you upon the first listening of Kay Ashley's wonderful new album "Heliotrope":

1. Her songs and chord changes are unique yet accessible and never go where you expect them to;

2. Her powerful and spot-on soprano soars effortlessly through even the most challenging of intervals;

3. Her gift for memorable melody is instantly evident and intoxicatingly infectious.

Heliotrope is by definition a brilliant lavender color, and it's an appropriate title for Ms. Ashley's album as the ten tracks are a varied sampling of a wide palette of musical colors: Middle Eastern modes and Indian instruments, acoustic guitars, stacked vocal harmonies, piano, coolly understated horn sections, vibraphone, and many other sounds, all executed in a blend which is a joy to listen to and ends before you'd like. She clearly wears her influences on her sleeve (Nick Drake and Joni Mitchell come to mind) and she does include a cover of Drake's haunting "Pink Moon,” which fits right into her folk-jazz-rock hybrid sound. But to label her as an interpretive artist is to do her a disservice as the powerful composer that she is in her own right. Songs like "Eyes So Bright,” "The Wind Is Gonna Blow You Down,” and "Holy Man” would be proud entries in anyone's canon and they serve to signal Kay Ashley as a singer and songwriter to keep an eye (and an ear) on. - The Joni Mitchell Covers Project (www.jonimitchell.com)


Debut full-length CD released March 21, 2009

Leaning Towards The Light (demo EP-2006)
Fallen Flowers (demo EP-2002)



It all started in a gravel pit in the North Maine Woods. A reluctant graduate student in geology, Kay Ashley was withering under the flinty stare of the noonday sun, hacking away at 10,000-year-old glacial sediments with an army issue hoe pick, all while providing lunch to the legendary northern Maine black flies--and she thought, "there must be something better than this." So, Kay decided to leave the rocks in the gravel pits where they belonged, and to return to her first love: music. This prompted a move to New York City and most recently, a relocation to sunny and seismic California, and the rest is but a nanosecond in geologic history.

Kay Ashley is a contemporary singer-songwriter whose influences range from The Beatles and Led Zeppelin, to Joni Mitchell, Michael Hedges, Nick Drake, and Hindustani classical music. Her music is impressionistic yet infectious, catchy yet harmonically adventurous. Her songs settle into your consciousness as if they've always been there, but take you on unexpected twists and turns.

Kay's debut CD, "Heliotrope," co-produced by Grammy Award winner Michael Leonhart (Steely Dan, Lenny Kravitz), was released on March 21, 2009, and features performances by Michael Leonhart, Martha Colby (October Project), Raquy Danziger, Timothy Hill (The Harmonic Choir), elizabeth!, Jenny Goodspeed, Sean McCaul (Philip Glass), Bill Dobrow (Sean Lennon, Martha Wainwright), and David Pilgrim.

In 2008, Billboard Magazine honored Kay with 4 top-tier Honorable Mentions in the 15th Annual Billboard World Song Contest: "Beautiful" placed in both the Folk and Pop categories; "Holy Man" placed in the World category; and "The Wind Is Gonna Blow You Down" placed in the Rock category. Kay was also selected to perform in the prestigious "Folk DJ's Choice" Showcase at the 2008 Northeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference.

In 2010, Kay relocated to the San Francisco Bay area, where the weather is nicer, and where people also like music.