She paged through the hymnal as the Sunday service she was evidently disinterested in dragged on. The Presbyterian minister bowed his head to pray, and church let out.
Ashley Cleveland tells us that music saved her life growing up. She took up the guitar in the middle of high school and found it to be a way to express her troubling experiences as a teenager.
She strayed from her religious background, taking drugs and drinking heavily, viewing a cruel God who was storing up all sorts of ugly punishments for her. She dated the wildest guys, some of which she admits are now in prison. She was desperate for someone to hold onto, but after years and years of searching for someone, she gave up and decided she'd have to be an old maid.
In the meantime, she moved to Nashville and struggled in her career for three years. Soon she received steady studio work and appeared on albums by artists such as John Hiatt and Emmylou Harris. In 1991, Atlantic Records released Big Town, which was Ashley's first recording. She describes it as a rock-n-roll release, evenly balanced with songs about her new view of faith and relationships.
She soon found more than friendship in Kenny Greenberg, whom she knew from the music industry. They married and Ashley wrote "Water" to describe her joy in finally finding someone way more decent and understanding than she ever imagined or hoped for, in timing that was not her own.
Her next album, Bus Named Desire, focused primarily on relationships and features one of her biggest hits, "Henry Doesn't Care." She wrote this captivating song for Henry, her new baby, and related all the things that infants don't worry themselves with.
Ashley then wanted to go back to her roots and release an album entirely composed of hymns. Lesson of Love included only three hymns, as well as songs from friends such as Buddy Greene and Beth Nielsen Chapman. The hymns she recorded were "Power In the Blood," "Revive Us Again," and "Holy, Holy, Holy" with fervor. When I says hymns, I don't mean Ashley Cleveland accompanied with an organ, I'm talking aggressive vocals with very electric guitars.
Lesson of Love scored a Grammy for Ashley in the category of Best Contemporary Rock Gospel Album of the Year. This is when I found Ashley's music. It impressed me. I loved it. You can't categorize her. You can't deny that her music rocks. You can't get her to stop talking.
"I have...a strong desire to live. Desire to live can help you rise above some pretty hopeless circumstances and move on."
So I bought her two latest releases within months of each other. Then I heard of Rose Capanna. That's where the serious action began. I joined her "A-List," dedicated to Ashley Cleveland and was added to the Big Town waiting list. You see, Big Town is out of print and is in high demand.
So after months of hearing concert reviews and miscellaneous news in regard to Ashley, I paid to receive Big Town the album that would complete my Ashley Cleveland collection.
If you haven't discovered Ashley Cleveland, now is the time. Find the artist who will display hope and show the majesty of an intimate God.
Just the Facts
Birthday: February 2
Children: Rebecca, Henry, Lily
Time it takes for her to write a song: 20 minutes - 6 months
Musical influences growing up: Joni Mitchell; Crosby, Stills, and Nash; Aretha Franklin
Current musical influences: No one in particular, various people including Gary Chapman, Sam Phillips, and Buddy and Julie Miller.
Favorite book in the last few months: The Color of Water, James McBride
Something Kenny Greenberg wants you to know: None of the songs on Big Town were about him!
How to get on the A-List: E-mail Rose and ask her to place you on it.
Ashley Cleveland Concert Pics
The Unofficial Ashley Cleveland Homepage Maintained by Rose Capanna
Reunion Artists score at Nashville Music Awards