Jessica Ashley May Be This Generation’s Mariah Carey
PopCrush recently invited 18-year-old Jessica Ashley to our New York office to chat with the editorial team and perform on her handy (and portable) Yamaha keyboard. If you haven't heard the buzz on this singer-songwriter yet, listen up. She's good. That good.
And while she's garnered some decent traffic off her YouTube channel, it's a whole different ball game when we're treated to a private concert at the office. Let's just say her voice had a touch of vibrato and crescendos, even in a room that doesn't provide the best available acoustics.
A Long Island native, Ashley attended the Clive Davis program at New York University, and was even mentored by Alicia Keys' hubby Swizz Beatz. "He really shaped a lot what direction I wanted to go, " she explains of their studio sessions. "Meeting with him, I'd play a few of records and he would be like, 'I like this, this suited for you, but this one's better.' It was cool having that kind of person looking at my work."
If the Clive Davis program rings a bell -- that's because Lady Gaga was also enrolled in that program. Ashley even lived in the same dormitory building! "I was trying to figure out who was in [Lady Gaga's] room. I think she was on the third floor and everybody on the third floor was like, 'yeah, I live in Gaga's room!' and everyone pretended to be in that room."
She adds, "they probably locked that room down, nobody lives in it, it's just made of gold." We're thinking so, too.
But a NY pad isn't the only thing Gaga and Ashley share -- they both made the weighted decision to drop out of the program early. Ashley left last winter, landing a songwriting credit for JoJo and working with heavyweight producer Sean Garrett on her on her debut EP, which should drop sometime at the end of the year. "I was working with [Garrett] for a few months and we came up with some amazing records, we're still deciding what tracks are going on," she teases about her EP.
Picking up piano as a child, Ashley didn't find her niche in songwriting until she was 15. "I really started writing and getting so into it, and the fact that I could make anything into a song is so cool," she explains. "Ever since then I've been co-writing. I didn't realize how many doors that would open -- especially with the JoJo situation; that was something I never though would happen."
But get this: She can deliver an astounding R&B spin on the 'The Wizard of Oz' track 'Finally Had a Heart,' and even give Queen B a run for her money on the '4' single 'Best Thing I Never Had.'
She's the answer to this generation's Mariah Carey. There's definitely a market for that -- don't you think?
Stay tuned on PopCrush for more news on Jessica Ashley, as more details on her upcoming EP unfold!
Listen to Jessica Ashley Cover Beyonce's 'Best Thing I Never Had' at the PopCrush Office