Born: January 11, 1978 Primary Instrument: Vocalist
Ashley Gonzalez, a fine young jazz vocalist (USA Today), crafts her music with descriptive textures and rich harmonies, taking us to autobiographical landscapes. Her lyrics, and her take on standards, reveal the coexistence of contrasting realities in life and relationships. I hope people are quietly inspired by my music in some internal way, says Ashley.
Ashley was born near Toledo, Ohio in 1978. A challenging childhood formed her creativity and deep introspection. Escaping through the music of Barbra Streisand and Ella Fitzgerald, Ashley started piano lessons, theatre productions, and classical vocal training to find her own musical voice. Her natural ability to write songs developed through the influence of Joni Mitchell, Carole King, and Tori Amos. Broadway musicals and her parent’s extensive collection of jazz standards also played a role.
After brief study at the College-Conservatory of Music (University of Cincinnati), Ashley felt she did not fit into either the opera or the jazz program and finished with a psychology degree. Largely self-taught at that point, she moved to Washington, DC in 2000 to study jazz and perform with musician friends. Ashley’s concept became heavily impacted by the music of Dianne Reeves and Betty Carter. In 2003, she was noted for her creative arrangements and unique compositional style when selected as a Betty Carter Jazz Ahead resident at The Kennedy Center.
Later that year, many changes came as Ashley became a mom and began suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Her illness held her back in many ways during this time, but Ashley’s work was ultimately enriched and matured during a long healing process. She credits her recovery to her faith in God, or rather, God’s faith in her, which, despite the huge setback, encouraged her to keep going with her talents. Ashley then sought tools and training at the highest level to continue seeking her vision. In 2007, she moved to New York to complete a masters degree under the direction of Peter Eldridge, Kate McGarry, and Theo Bleckmann as a Manhattan School of Music scholarship student.
Ashley and her regular band mates perform in clubs (Zinc Bar, Cornelia Street Café) and other venues such as churches (St. John the Divine), art galleries (American Folk Art Museum), and special events. The band has worked together since late 2008 to touch audiences with a compelling musical experience. She says, The greatest thing that could ever happen is that someone would feel understood when hearing my music. After a three-week residency in the Jazz and Creative Workshop at The Banff Centre (Alberta, Canada) in 2010, Ashley relocated to live closer to family and currently resides in Kalamazoo, Michigan.
Awards:2010 Selected resident artist for The Banff Centre Jazz & Creative Music Workshop, Alberta, Canada 2007 - 2009 Manhattan School of Music Scholarship Recipient 2003 Selected artist for the Betty Carter Jazz Ahead Residency for Young Jazz Composers, Washington, DC 2002 $1,000 arts grant recipient, District of Columbia Commission on Arts and Humanities
Willing to teach:
Advanced students only.
Please email for more details or view the "lessons" link at my website.