Susan Ashton Bibliography: (click on each album cover to view tracks and Susan Ashton lyrics)
Susan Ashton Biography
One more song. Something big, that had meaning. Susan Ashton knew that's what her first album for Capitol Records, Closer, needed. She and producer Emory Gordy searched for that song, but couldn't find it.
Songwriter Diane Warren had a song, "Faith Of The Heart." Warren, the most in-demand songwriter of today, writes soaring anthems for top artists-"How Do I Live?" for LeAnn Rimes and Trisha Yearwood, "I Don't Want To Miss a Thing" for Aerosmith and "Because You Loved Me" for Celine Dion. She gave a demo copy of "Faith Of The Heart" to Capitol Records/Nashville President Pat Quigley, thinking Garth Brooks might be interested in the song. Pat played the song one day when Susan Ashton was in his office. "I love that song," she said. "I'll call Diane Warren," he said. Susan didn't think anything would come of that call. After all, Warren wrote songs for superstars. Why would she want a new Capitol artist to have such a powerful song on her first country record?
Because that girl can sing. Warren heard Ashton's voice, and let her have the song for her upcoming album. Ashton has a rare gift-the ability to totally inhabit the words of the song and convey the emotions behind them, while giving of herself fully as a musical instrument. In her hands, a song is whole. "Music is the soul of the song," says Ashton. "It creates the foundation and the emotion. It's what takes you somewhere. The lyric puts a picture to the soul-gives it shape."
And so when people hear Susan sing, they find a way to work with her. Matraca Berg, Kim Richey, Jamie O'Hara, Kent Blazy and Kim Williams have all contributed songs to Ashton's first Capitol album. Over the years Garth Brooks ("She's Every Woman," "You Move Me"), Patty Loveless ("Long Stretch of Lonesome," "To Have You Back Again") and Jim Brickman ("The Gift") were among the many artists who asked Susan to sing on their records.
Brooks was so impressed, he asked her to open for him during his 1994 European tour. "He was Garth, but I had never seen his concerts, never saw the TV specials, so I didn't know that," says Susan. "When I got the opening spot on his tour, I got a videotape of his concert at Texas Stadium, popped it into the VCR, and then freaked out. 'This is what I'm opening for?!' I started having nightmares. I'd never met Garth before, so I would dream that when we met he wouldn't even talk to me and would make me clean the green room." Instead, the tour was the beginning of a strong friendship, and a chance for Ashton to keep moving forward as a performer.
A Houston native, Ashton grew up listening to Tammy Wynette, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and Jessi Colter, as well as Karen Carpenter, Journey, Bad Company and Pure Prairie League. Blessed with a beautiful voice, but shy and introverted, Ashton's singing career took off before she learned to perform. At age 20 she had her first album on Sparrow records, which sold hundreds of thousands of copies immediately. Now she had to sing those songs to a live audience. She played at a small church in Hendersonville, Tennessee, in front of about 150 people. "I had my ten songs from my album and no idea what to say," she remembers. "So, you know those Laffy Taffy candies? They come individually wrapped with jokes on the wrapper. I took some Laffy Taffy jokes and tried to make a story out of those. It was all I had, and it was horrible."
Horrible, yes, but not discouraging. Susan fought her shyness to reach her goal. She learned by doing, ignoring her wobbly knees and quaking body each time she stepped onto a stage. "I was terrified, but I knew I had to sing," she says. Her strength of purpose and her faith saw her through those times. Over the years, she recorded six albums, sold more than one million records of her own and contributed to the Grammy-winning Amazing Grace: A Country Salute To Gospel (duetting with Billy Dean on "In The Garden") and to Come Together: America Salutes The Beatles.
All of that work led to the moment she signed with Capitol Records. "The songs I'd done before were almost always serious and introspective, with smidgens of fun," she says. "This time I wanted to do something different," says Ashton. "I can't wait to perform the songs from this new record, because it's so much fun. The are a lot of up songs, that get-in-the-car-roll-down-the-windows-and drive-really-fast music. And the ballads-some of the songs on the record make me cry. I had no parameters when we went in to the studio. I wanted to go in and make a record that musically reflected my personal tastes and was true to who I am. This is the record of my life," she says.