Melodist Creates Music to Inspire and Uplift
Ashley Lauren-Elrod is a multi-talented inspirational melodist who aims to inspire and touch the souls of her fans by creating music that forces you to do more than just hear it. Ashley’s music actually makes you listen and reflect. Ashley is young and high spirited. However, the talented singer has experienced bouts of depression and suicide attempts. She uses her music to show her pain and the rainbow beyond the clouds. She wants people to understand that despair does not last always and they too can overcome life obstacles.
“I want everyone to listen to my music and say, ‘this is the girl I go to, to feel inspired by.’ This is the girl I go to and turn on the radio because that beat just gets me going.”
A Songbird with Multiple Other Talents
To say that Ashley is talented would be an understatement. Not many can project the amount of ambition that she displays through her crafts. Although Ashley is a songbird, her accomplishments do not stop there. She is an actress whose face has appeared on television shows like “Shameless” and “Chicago Code.” She’s had roles in movies such as “The Alley Cat” and “Followed.”
She is a thespian. The versatile artist appeared in stage productions of the “The Nutcracker,” and “Sleepy Hollow’s” Lady Van Tassel. Also, she is a horseback rider who trained for over seven years and she’s also spent time figure skating. Not to mention she almost went on to train for the Olympics.
She’s Done it All
What hasn’t Ashley done? With that being said, in an Ashley Lauren- Elrod exclusive, Ashley discusses with 1st Amendment Media her life, her career, giving back to the community and how she overcame mental battles.
Ashley grew up in Chicago Illinois in the Morgan Park area. She spent her childhood acting in plays, riding horses, figure skating and singing. Although she was a busy child weaving her way through athletics and the performing arts world, her acting abilities is what stood out to her and those around her. By the time she was in college at Columbia College she had already been signed by Lilly’s and BMG agencies.
Not Your Typical College Life
In between classes Ashley wasn’t like traditional college students still trying to figure it out. Instead of pledging sororities or hanging out in student halls, Ashley was going on auditions for big named companies like McDonalds and Steak ‘n’ Shake and T-Mobile. By senior year Ashley wasn’t a stranger to traveling or being on the set of movie productions and commercials. She was young, educated and talented and becoming quite successful. However, what she didn’t know was that her career as an actress would come to a screeching halt. She hadn’t yet realized that her proposed future would not be at all what she expected.
A Most Unexpected Ending
Not understanding why her life was changing and why acting gigs had dried up, a talented Ashley felt frustrated and unsure of herself. There was something that she hadn’t yet realized. That is that although, she was experiencing great success as an actress, she was meant to do something else. In actuality, It was singing that was calling her.
“I always tell people like, it chose me,” Ashley declared. “I didn’t choose it. It really is the truth, like I didn’t think I would be pursuing this at all. I thought I was gonna go straight, like I was gunning for acting.”
Singing Chooses Her
Due to the difficulties associated with her acting career ending, Ashley felt like she was living in limbo. She wasn’t sure where to go next. Beginning to realize, though, that singing had chosen her, she began writing her first single entitled “Warrior.”
“That’s when I wrote “Warrior” …and that came out from a lot of pain, wondering and frustration. And a lot of beauty as well, so that’s when it all really started for me.”
After writing her first single, Ashley got right to work. She began working with producer Rodney Young and the next thing she knew she was in the studio about to record “Warrior.” Laughing, she recalled, “We got in the studio, I didn’t know what I was doing at all. I just got in there and said, ‘hey, I have this song.’”
Her First Release Succeeds
Ashley truly believes her music career was specifically chosen for her. She insists that she was clueless but luckily her song did well and people liked the tone of her as an artist.
“I took it out there and people ran with it,” she insisted. “I really didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t have like a website for it or anything.”
Although, Ashley wasn’t sure on the proper steps to ensure that her career would continue, she kept pushing forward. “It just all started and I haven’t stopped since knowing I could do it.”
Music Beyond Classification
To classify Ashley’s music can be difficult. As a budding artist, she knows she’s still growing into who she wants to be. However, one thing the singer does know is that her music was meant to inspire. As a religious woman, Ashley gives praises to God and insists that her music is spiritual. However, Ashley does not want to be boxed in or classified as a gospel singer or as a Christian singer for that matter. Instead, she wants people to take whatever meaning they get out of her songs and apply it to their own lives. Additionally, she wants to be recognized as a phenomenon across a wide range of musical categories.
“I want people to see me across different genres because I have ambient,” she said. “I have some pop and I have some rock tones in my music and I want that to be able to spread.”
Inspiring Creations are Born of Pain
According to Ashley, like the lyrics to “Warrior,” all of her songs come from a deep place inside of her. She has experienced the pain that comes with battling depression and suicide attempts. The powerful singer took the pain that stemmed from her life and career and she put it into her music. And that is what got her through. Although each song has hints of hurt and frustration, there is still a light at the end of every tunnel.
“…Definitely a lot of my songs come from that…seeing that darkness but also finding some sense of light,” she said. “I feel like every single song that I write has that, like prevails that.”
“It’s Hard, But it’s Also Beautiful”
She wants her listeners to understand that although they may experience frustration, heartache and pain, giving up should never be an option. She advises them to “…Keep going because life is hard, you know,” she said. “It’s hard but its’s also very beautiful.”
She’s wants others to reflect on life and the world around them.
“That’s my message: to not give up and to not focus so internally on you, but to know there are a lot of people in this world…going through some stuff,” she said passionately. “People are getting slain for being a Christian in other countries. People are getting discriminated as we see on the news stations.”
Reaching Out from Her Better Place
Although this is the message Ashley wants her listeners to take from her music, she admits that it took her awhile to get there. Since Ashley has been in a better place, she’s reached out to different organizations. Project AK-47, an organization that fights to take child soldiers off the streets, Songs Against Slavery, an organization that fights against sex trafficking through benefits and concerts and the Chicago Children’s Advocacy Center are organizations she works with to give back.
“It’s always been in my heart to help people,” she said. “I always wanted to be there. I love the kids and I love helping youth and I feel like our generation needs to be inspired by something that’s more than ‘I want to be a basketball player.’”
Attacking Porn and Trafficking
According to Ashley, women in different countries are victims of the porn industry, trafficking. In some countries children are trained soldiers being subjected to war at ages as young as four. “It’s insane,” she insisted. “I don’t know. I have to do something. You know, I just can’t sit here and not do something to help, and with my music I can do something.” Ashley does organizational benefits all over the world to help organizations fight against injustice.
“We need to be getting it out there because a lot of people keep trying to brush it up under the rug.”According to Ashley, if you watch pornography or you go to strip clubs, these are problems that you cannot and should not ignore.
“A lot of these women choose not to be there,” she insisted. “A lot of them were kidnapped, abducted, tricked into this life. And a lot of people do not know … It’s a big part of what I do and people need to know the truth. They need to understand what they’re watching and what they’re doing.”
Future Plans for Music, the Stage and in the World
Ashley travels globally to get the message out and in the near future she’s hoping to be on tour visiting colleges and churches to get the word out about human trafficking, slavery against women and child soldiers. “It’s been crazy to see all the survivors coming out trying to restart their lives again,” she said. “It’s been really rewarding thing and we’re getting bigger and bigger and the events are just like expanding all over the globe.”
Ashley is still acting and will be in a feature Sundance film this fall called “Upstate.” However, she is focused on writing and is currently working on her next album which will be entitled “Wilderness Warrior.”