LORETTA'S ARTIST OF WEEK 5/25/15
Ashley Clark is a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist who has gone from from sleeping on the floor of a stranger’s house in Nashville to having one of the most powerful managers in the music business (Simon Fuller) hook him up with one of the most successful producers in history (Mutt Lange) and signing to one of the most legendary record labels (Capitol Records and its new imprint IRS Nashville) to make his musical dreams come true.
Clark grew up one of 11 children born to a traveling Pentecostal preacher. Throughout Clark’s childhood, the family was constantly on the road, an experience he likens to “a traveling circus.” Everyone was expected to perform as part of the services and they would find themselves at an ever-rotating array of churches, tent revivals, and festivals across the South. While the upbringing was far from what one might call “normal,” and things that other kids take for granted were lacking, it gave him an amazing crash course in music. Clark later decided to move to Nashville for good.
Word got out around town about a new lightning-fast fiddle player and soon Clark was playing with a newly christened American Idol winner named Carrie Underwood. He played in Underwood’s touring band for two and half years, traveling the world and figuring that he’d found a great life as a working musician, but fate came calling in the form of a reality TV show. One night, Clark saw a promo calling for bands to appear on an upcoming Fox show called The Next Great American Band. “I called two of my brothers and said, ‘Guys, we can win this. I know we can.’” And indeed, they did. Christening themselves Sons of Sylvia, Clark and his brothers were signed to the management company of the show’s creator Simon Fuller. It became clear to Fuller that the true star of his newly signed band was its magnetic lead singer and fiddle player Ashley. And soon enough, when the super producer Mutt Lange said he was interested in finding a new country artist with whom to work, Fuller knew he had the perfect candidate. Lange was knocked out by Clark’s talent after hearing his initial batch of songs. “I thought they were very universal,” he says. Over the next two years, they reworked Clark’s songs, co-wrote a host of others, and collaborated closely on an entire album, something Lange hadn’t done with a brand new artist for 20 years.
After all he’s been through, Clark has never lost the initial thrill he experienced early on; the one that comes from playing for an audience and affecting their mood with his songs, voice, and playing. He wants listeners to experience a range of emotions while listening to the songs on his upcoming album.