ashley maher


biography

Ashley Maher* is a fresh voice in the growing field of global music. Following the footsteps of pioneers like Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, and Sting, her work fuses western singer-songwriter sensibilities with the rhythms and textures of West Africa and Latin America.

Born to British parents in Canada, and moving to Los Angeles when she was five, Ashley's gift as a singer was recognized early on. She grew up singing jazz, classical, choral, and medieval music and even studied opera in Italy for a year, before falling irrevocably in love with African music. Stumbling upon a class by Ghanaian master drummer, C.K. Ladzekpo, at UC Berkeley, Ashley knew she had found her calling. She studied drumming with him for two years, before graduating and heading straight to London in search of African musicians.

London was alive with global music. Ashley performed with her band for two years before collaborating with premier traditional dance and drumming group, Adzido, to record her first set of demos. The tape soon came to the attention of the record companies and she signed a contract with Virgin U.K.

Virgin released two records for Ashley. The first, named "hi," was met with critical acclaim and hailed as a promising debut. The second, "Pomegranate," featured a superb selection of Paris-based African musicians and again was met with positive press. Said Nick Coleman of "Time Out," "Her tunes are almost indecently luxurious, the playing exquisite, and the arrangements as full of subtlety as you could wish...hers is a golden world, in which words are garlands, voices are a glow and drums...well, you know what they say about the drums."

Since then, Ashley has continued to develop as a solo artist. She has regularly recorded and performed in London, Paris, and L.A., sang as a backing vocalist on records by Youssou N'Dour, The Afro-Celt Soundsystem, and Myriam Mursal, and performed as a dancer for many African dance troupes. Ashley's third, independent CD, "The Blessed Rain," features some of West Africa's finest Paris/London-based musicians. "Building a bridge between cultures," she observes, "is fruitful when both sides love and understand one another's musical language. 'The Blessed Rain' is a more intimate record than my first two. Less epic, more earthy and simple."

Ashley relocated her family to Los Angeles to care for her mother when she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Since her mother's passing, Ashley has had a second child, while actively building her career, Stateside. Collaborating with LA's best West African and Latin musicians, dancers, and drummers, she has been thrilled to find audiences responding enthusiastically to the music and her band's shimmering performances across America.

Currently, she is nearing completion of album #4. Produced by brilliant Cameroonian bassist, Andre Manga, it features LA's finest from Cameroon, Senegal, Brazil, Venezuela, Uruguay, and the USA.

*Maher rhymes with "star"

Influences and Favorite Musicians

Youssou N'Dour, Baaba Maal, Salif Keita, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell, Sting, King Sunny Ade, James Taylor.
Rumi (Persian poet), Bessie Head, Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Ben Okri, Dervla Murphy, Travel writers.

(HTMLed by Anthony Kosky)