A life-story of inspiration.
IT STARTED WITH -
Finding solace in,
For artist TJ Ashley, there’s never a dull moment. When your last name is associated with a musical heritage dating back to the old-time 1920s Ozark Mountain band, Ashley Melody Men, and then one of country music’s premier song writers, Hugh Ashley, who wrote many songs for legendary artists such as Brenda Lee, Porter Wagoner, Earnest Tubb, Jim Reeves and Red Foley, following in those footsteps as a country singer and songwriter is a tall order. You’re expected to carry on a tradition of setting the bar soulfully high. That is precisely the case for this Arkansas native.
Now that TJ’s new single, inspired and written for his wife, “Those Baby Blues” is climbing the iTunes chart, he hopes to attract a whole new generation of country / contemporary music fans. Deeply rooted in music, his inspiration comes from a myriad of events that have taken place in his life. Through the tragic death of his best friend from an ATV accident and the sad divorce of his parents, TJ found solace in writing songs. Obsessed with music from an early age, one of his earliest childhood memories was when he was only 4 years old. “I remember being addicted to music. I would take cassette tapes and sit by my radio waiting for my favorite songs to play, then hit record, and I would listen to those songs for hours.” Merle Haggard was a regular guest on those cassette tapes, with “Ramblin Fever” being one of TJ’s favorite songs. “I have always related to that song. I guess I have a little of the same in me.”
Writing and playing rhythm guitar since the age of 18 and performing since he was 19 years old, TJ plays a few country and soft rock songs, but his genre is primarily a contemporary Soulful Country sound that combines traditional country with a ramped up Elvis flair. Described by his fans as a “Natural,” TJ won’t hesitate to tell you to never underestimate the power of your dreams, but he also quickly gives credit where credit is due. “Life is a roller coaster ride with plenty of ups and downs. I’ve learned that if you want to hear God laugh, then tell him your plans. I had to realize that it’s on His time, not mine.”
But it’s not all sadness that inspires TJ to write and perform. In fact, his greatest inspiration is his wife…. whom he met while attending college at Oregon Coast Community College. “I walked into my Psychology 101 class and when I saw her, it was love at first sight.” Now, a few short years later, the word “family” holds the greatest meaning and significance in Ashley’s life. With the birth of their three children, daughter Autumn Lily, and sons, Trace and River Jackson, TJ is determined to provide the happy life his family deserves. “They have motivated me to keep going, to keep pushing, even when the road has looked long and narrow.”
One of TJ’s first heroes was his grandfather, J.D. Ashley. As a successful real estate developer, TJ always admired him. “I remember my grandfather as larger than life. In my eyes, there wasn’t anything he couldn’t accomplish.” His grandfather’s work ethic and integrity is something that is ingrained into TJ’s DNA. I believe much of my passion and drive is attributed to the example my grandfather always set.” TJ’s upbringing and working some pretty terrifying jobs is also a part of the journey that has led Ashley to where he is today. One job in particular stands out in his mind. “I was on a construction job in Oregon working on sky lifts on the west coast bay. My job was to tear siding off an old fish hatchery. Being afraid of heights, I quickly learned that dangling hundreds of feet up in the air on a windy day wasn’t the job for me. I laugh about it now, but at the time, it was no laughing matter!”
TJ competed in the Little Rock Battle of the Bands, performing acoustically as a one-man band. His style, sound, showmanship and talent landed him in 2nd place, among many talented artists. Currently, Ashley is in the midst of an exciting performance schedule with plans to expand his music on tour. Meanwhile, he works at what he describes as the second best job he’s ever had (second only to music), which is working in the family business, Ashley Media.
“Pursuing my dream of being a country music singer and songwriter isn’t just about making money. Songwriting is therapy to me. It allows me to get in touch with emotions deep inside and try to paint a picture that touches the feelings of other people through my songs. It’s one of the greatest feelings I could ever have.” There is, however, one thing he is certain of—he is determined to find his place in the country music industry. Since his obsession with music from the age of 4, he feels at home with country music. It’s a burning call that has resonated with him throughout his life. The key to music is simple for TJ. “It starts with listening to my heart and writing one song at a time. It’s important for me to relate to and inspire people. We all have good times and we all go through dark times. I want my music to be a source of hope and connection for someone out there. One of my favorite sayings is –If you are listening to my songs, then neither one of us is ever alone. To me that is hope. The foundation and pulse of my music is my family, my fans, and my faith. That will never change.”
Ashley’s newest collection of soulful country songs is now available on CD Baby and iTunes, from his new album “TJ Ashley”. Sample each of TJ’s songs on his website at www.tjashley.com. Get the latest information from TJ on his Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/tjashley/, where TJ is adding new events and happenings. You will be charmed and inspired by this enthusiastic young man. He is, indeed, a natural.