Philly Vocalist Balances Vintage, Contemporary Influences

Ashley Scott

By Ron Wynn

NASHVILLE, TN — Philadelphia vocalist and songwriter Ashley Scott has been involved with music nearly his entire life. Not only did he begin singing as a three-year-old, but he grew up immersed in the classic sounds of soul and funk. in addition, his aunt Helen Scott is a member of the Three Degrees, and Scott remembers watching her perform at shows both across America and overseas. He also cites the legendary songwriter Kenneth Gamble as a mentor and friend.

But while Scott’s very aware of the long and impressive history of soul and R&B, he’s careful in his own music to add some contemporary touches and sensibility. “I’m really not a fan of the term “old school” in terms of describing my sound because then people tend to think you’re doing dated music,” Scott told the Tribune during a recent interview. “What I try to do is have a soulful sound and edge in my singing, with a production that can appeal to those who may not have heard or be aware of some past greats.”

Still, Scott’s done a lot of impressive things in his career dating back to his days at Howard, where he studied jazz voice under the great vocalist/drummer Grady Tate and pianist Webster Lewis. He also joined the school’s University Gospel Choir. During his time there he performed behind Edwin Hawkins and Dorinda Clark of the Clark Sisters. In more recent years, he’s done background vocals for a host of top acts, and now is emphasizing his own material.

His debut release “Dance The Night Away” did well overseas, particularly in England. The first single “Words” was co-written with Alysha Ashley and spotlights conflicts that can occur among couples, even those very much in love. Scott’s latest. release is a remixed version of “Dance The Night Away,” which was co-written with the outstanding smooth jazz artist Will Downing. Downing has teamed with Scott before, and he says it’s an honor to have people like Downing and Gamble in his corner, but also puts pressure on him to always bring his best to anything he does.

“When you’re working with someone like Will Downing, he’s very supportive and encouraging, but he’s also very honest about what he hears. The same thing with Kenny Gamble. These are people who know about quality, and they don’t hesitate to give you the kind of feedback you need to be successful.”

He also says he’s currently concentrating on issuing singles rather albums. “It’s like people are going back again to focusing on individal tunes rather than albums so much,” Scott concludes. “We’re really now in a time when it’s easier to get your music across doing it that way rather than trying to promote an entire project and having to see which songs might break out. Now you put our your best single and get it to all the right places.”

Ashley Scott’s remixed single “Dance The Night Away” is now available on multiple digital platforms including Itunes and Spotify.

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