Leah Ashton
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Leah Ashton

Anderson, Indiana, United States | INDIE

Anderson, Indiana, United States | INDIE
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"Web Exclusive: Ja'Mar, Leah Ashton, Dave Elwert"


Ja’Mar, Leah Ashton, Dave Elwert
Anderson University
July 16

Orangehaus Records hosted a musically diverse concert July 16 as part of their music business camp at Anderson University. The night featured Orangehaus artists Ja’Mar and Leah Ashton as well as AU alumnus Dave Elwert.

Ja’mar, Orangehaus’ only R&B artist, opened the show with his original music, including “Get Yer Snap On” and “Just Gotta Be Me.” While these songs are crowd-pleasers, the highlights of his set included a John Legend cover and Ja’Mar’s own slam poetry. The John Legend song showed off Ja’Mar’s smooth and effortlessly full voice, underutilized in his rap-based songs, and featured in his work with the Anderson University Chorale. Ja’Mar’s slam poetry showed the thoughtful side of the songwriter.

Leah Ashton kicked off her set with an invigorating cover of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground,” the perfect opener to give the audience a taste of her strong, soulful voice. Leah continued with more soul-inspired original songs accompanied by a band, but really showed off her vocal abilities while playing piano and singing solo. The slower songs silenced the crowd as they took in Leah’s passionate voice, powerful and delicate at the same time. My favorite was Leah’s version of the oft-covered “Hallelujah.” She added a feminine touch that gave the song a new twist.

Dave Elwert finished the night with piano-driven rock that made the crowd bob in unison. He delivered a sound much bigger than the four-piece band on stage, filling the room with tight, danceable music. Dave’s voice resembles Coldplay’s Chris Martin's; it is smooth and sweet with just enough rasp to keep it interesting.

Dave’s set was unfortunately cut short due to a malfunctioning sustain pedal. “Well, that could put a damper on things,” Dave joked. The six songs he did play packed a power punch of engaging music that left the crowd wanting more.

Posted on July 23rd 2008 by Brittney Anderson

- www.nuvo.net


"Orangehaus rolls out new artist"

By Barrett Newkirk


Anderson University’s in-house record label will release the debut album of its latest artist on Tuesday.


Leah Ashton’s self-titled album is the latest offering from Orangehaus Records, the same label that in 2004 launched Jon McLaughlin’s recording career.

Ashton, an AU junior from Ohio, wrote the five songs on the album and recorded them this fall in the Orangehaus studio. She will perform all five songs and others during the public release party Tuesday at 8:30 p.m. in the lobby of AU’s Reardon Auditorium.

“As far as genre goes, I always have a hard time explaining it,” Ashton said of her music. Her MySpace page lists her as soul, pop and alternative, and she said that people often say her voice has a bluesy quality to it.

After Orangehaus chose to work with her in the spring, Ashton and the student-run label went to work after summer vacation planning the CD.

Orangehaus is one of the few professional record labels in the U.S. affiliated with a university.

The label “gives students a really hands-on learning experience,” Ashton said. “For the artists, it is a good opportunity because it is the real thing.”

Ashton has been singing and performing since the age of two. It was only after enrolling at AU, where she is a music business major, that she began to devote more time to song writing.

“I just loved to sing before I realized I had any ability to do so,” she said.

Orangehaus has hopefully given her a head start on a future career in music, she said.

“I want to continue to pursue being a writer and performer,” she said, “and I just hope it will help me continue on into bigger and better things.”

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Leah Ashton CD release party

When: 8:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Reardon Auditorium, Anderson University
- The Herald Bulletin


"Ashton Changes Her Tune"

ANDERSON, Ind. — Leah Ashton, an Anderson University alum, wants the public to hear her latest musical venture.

On Tuesday, April 20, at 7:30 p.m. in the Reardon Auditorium lobby on the AU campus, she will play tunes from her new, six-song CD, “Things Better Left Unsaid.”

The release, she said, is more bluesy and more edgy than her 2007 self-titled five-song disc.

“My first CD focused on my own thoughts, self, life,” said Ashton, 23.

“But my second CD focuses more on relationships, another person and my perspective.”

Her first CD was released by Orangehaus records at Anderson University.

Her songs have played on WQME radio frequently. Matt Rust, program director of WQME, enjoys both playing and listening to her music.

“I can’t wait to hear Leah’s new album. She’s amazing! So much talent … and it’s different. She’s fresh and new, not a copy of someone else. Our listeners love her music,” said Rust.

Her greatest influences growing up in the Akron, Ohio, area were her dad and her grandmother.

There were always musical instruments around the house for her and her siblings to bang on.

“Dad was a drummer and music lover, while grandma played piano, was a dancer in tap, jazz and ballet. She introduced me to musicals, especially Disney,” Ashton said.

“I have been influenced by so many types of music,” Ashton said. “I hope that this is evident in the new material, a collection of songs that represent where I am as a songwriter and musician currently.”

With this new release, she hopes that listeners who have been following her for the past few years can hear the growth and development in her music.

Using influences of favorite singer/songwriters Ella Fitzgerald, Bonnie Raitt, Ben Harper and Rufus Wainwright, Ashton mixes it up with a modern sound. She joked that her sound was “white girl with a lot of soul.”

But Christianity is also an influence in her lyrics.

“These songs aren’t what you’d consider typical Christian songs, but in general, it’s behind my songwriting,” she said.

Traveling throughout the Midwest to places such as Nashville, Tenn., coffee houses and other venues, Ashton’s music grew with her along the way. The new collection of songs reflects a more mature, confident woman who wants to share her message with others.

A website, www.kickstarter.com, was used to raise funds to produce the disc. Many young artists are turning to fundraising on the Internet to help meet their dreams of producing their music. Ashton also uses Facebook, MySpace and Twitter to connect to fans.

Until she makes the big time, Ashton works regular jobs such as substitute teaching and traveling on weekends to play different venues. Her band members are Andrew Camp, guitar; Joel Burkhead, bass; Jeremy Hazen, drums, and Matt Ulrich, keys. All but Camp are alums of Anderson University.

Burkhead said, “I’ve been playing bass for Leah for 3 or 4 years now. Over that time, I’ve seen Leah take her music from piano jazz to upbeat soft rock and it has morphed into a bluesy pop with lyrics that convey true emotion.

“Leah isn’t afraid to tell you how it is. She’ll write songs that are blunt and ‘in your face’ because she doesn’t sugar-coat it. A lot of these songs on her new album, ‘Things Better Left Unsaid,’ come from real life and you can tell she means what she sings.

“Not only are her lyrics powerful, she has the control to croon a sultry ballad or blast a guitar-driven rock song. Listeners will love her new blues/pop/rock sound,” he said.

Dave Elwert, who helped produce the CD in his recording studio, said that Ashton’s eclectic writing style combined with her powerhouse vocals and contagious personality will make her new EP hard to pass up. “It was a fun project to be a part of and I’m looking forward to the release show on April 20.”

Song titles are: “Things Better Left Unsaid,” “Bright Side,” “City Lights,” “Blaming It on My Dreams,” “Easier Said Than Done” and “Original.” - The Herald Bulletin


Discography

Self-Titled EP track list:
Let Myself Go
Exit 209 (Home)*
Hiding Behind This Smile
Alive and Burning
Dear October

*played on radio stations that play independent music in Ohio (93.1FM), Indiana (98.7 FM, 99.5 FM, 91.5 FM), and online (Remedy.fm, www.live365.com/stations/orangehaus)

Photos

Bio

We've all been there. That insatiable desire to tell someone to something, but it's tangled with the fear that once you do, everything will change. Or maybe there's that undying need to say something, but the minute it comes out you wish you could take it back. Leah Ashton’s newest project, “Things Better Left Unsaid”, contains five songs that are about just that. Leah uses these songs as a way to express what things that are too hard to simply come out and say, and instead of telling her listeners these things, she sings them with a voice that doesn’t sound like it’s coming from a white girl from the suburbs.

Leah, who has been singing since she could talk and playing piano since age 8, got her start performing in church. As she began to develop as an artist, she moved on to playing in coffee shops, clubs, and other venues around her hometown, the Akron area of Ohio. Coming from a musical family, her early influences range from the styles of jazz, blues, soul, hymns, classic rock, and Disney musicals. In 2005, Leah headed to Indiana in pursuit of a Music Business degree from Anderson University. During her time as a student there she started writing original material, which she performed in various venues around central Indiana. Her honest lyrics sung with a soulful voice gave her enough attention to be offered a deal with Orangehaus Records, under whom she released a self-titled EP in December of 2007. With Orangehaus she also released two singles: her own version of “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, and an original song “After the Rain”. During her time as an Orangehaus artist she continued to play shows in venues across Indiana, Ohio, Michigan, as well as breaking into cities such as Chicago and Nashville.


Since graduating from Anderson University in 2009, Leah has continued to pursue her passion for music by writing and recording what turned into another 5 song EP that she released independently in April of 2010. With this new collection of songs, Leah feels that she can give her audience a more accurate representation of where she currently is as a songwriter and musician. She hopes that the listeners who have been following her for the past few years can hear the growth and development in her musicianship, and that new listeners enjoy the new songs enough to want to come along for the ride. “I'm fortunate enough to use music and song as my outlet for those 'things better left unsaid'”, Leah says, “If nothing else, maybe someone will hear one of my songs and be given a tiny bit of courage to say what it is that they need to say”. There is much to be seen in Leah’s future and you’re sure to hear more from her in the coming years. Stay tuned in for the fun.