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Ashley Maher is a singer and songwriter who has meshed the rhythmic impulses of West Africa and Latin America with Western song structures. (As well, it seems like she has taken it upon herself to write her own Wikipedia page.)
Ashley Maher was born to British parents in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, and moved to Los Angeles at the age of five. Her parents encouraged her singing from an early age, and she tried out many styles, including jazz, choral and medieval music. She even studied opera for a year in Italy.
The turning point was a chance visit to a class in African music at UC Berkeley held by C.K. Ladzekpo, a master drummer from Ghana. An instant convert to West African rhythms, she studied with him for two years before finishing her degree and moving to London.
In London, Ashley performed with an Afro-pop band for two years before making her first demo tape, featuring her intricate vocals woven with Ghanaian drumming. The demo soon led to her signing a contract with Virgin Records and Virgin released her first two albums: "Hi" and Pomegranate. Both received excellent reviews worldwide.
When EMI bought Virgin Records, Ashley left the label and went on to independently record a third CD, The Blessed Rain, in Paris and London with top West African musicians.
Returning to Los Angeles shortly after completing The Blessed Rain," Ashley has been building her career there ever since. She has performed extensively and opened for major world music icons like Salif Keita, Baaba Maal, Vusi Mahlasela, Orchestra Baobab, Zap Mama, and Dobet Gnahore. Ashley released a fourth CD, Flying Over Bridges in 2006. Produced by Cameroon's Andre Manga, it features some of Los Angeles' finest world/jazz musicians. Cameroonian saxophone legend, Manu Dibango co-wrote the song Club Dibango and the Rising Son and Youssou N'Dour's guitarist Jimi Mbaye guests.
Ashley co-wrote a song called Boul Bayekou for Youssou N'Dour's 2006 Senegalese release Alsaama Day and his international CD Rokku Mi Rokka. (Boul Bayekou is available only on iTunes in the USA.)
In April 2008, Youssou flew Ashley to Dakar, Senegal, to rehearse with his group as a dancer for two weeks. She then performed with Youssou and Les Super Etoiles de Dakar for two huge shows: first at the Sorano Theater in Dakar and then in front of 15,000 at Paris' Bercy Arena. Since this time, online videos of Ashley dancing sabar (a complex dance of Senegal's Wolof people) have been viewed by over half a million people.
Ashley spent the month of September 2008 in Dakar, Senegal, recording her 5th CD, Amina, with key members of Youssou N'Dour's band, Les Super Etoiles. She spent 2009 completing the CD (with Andre Manga again producing) and touring England, Scotland, and Spain.
In 2010, Ashley returned to Dakar Senegal to promote Amina. She opened for Orchestra Baobab, did many interviews for radio, TV, and press, and filmed her second video from the record. Since then, she has divided her time between Dakar and Los Angeles, recording and performing with her all-star Senegalese band, while continuing to perform Stateside with her Los Angeles-based musicians. In Senegal, Ashley recorded, video-ed, and released two further singles: "On Dit Merci," and "Soon."
- Hi, Virgin Records (CDV 2611), 1990
- Pomegranate, Virgin Records (CDV 2687), 1992
- The Blessed Rain, Spin Wild Records (swcd 001), 1997
- Flying Over Bridges, Spin Wild Records (swcd 03), 2006
- Amina, Spin Wild Records (swcd 004), 2010
- Dreaming re-dreaming / Step by Step, Virgin Records (VS 1253), 1990
- Step by Step, Virgin Records (VSCDT 1253), 1990
- So Many Times, Virgin Records (VSCDT 1287), 1990
- Laughter in the Rain, Virgin Records (VSCDT 1385), 1991
- Stumbling Block, Virgin Records (VSCDT 1409), 1992
- Try to Hide, Spin Wild Records, 2009
- Small Boats, Spin Wild Records, 2010
- On Dit Merci, Spin Wild Records, 2010
- Soon, Spin Wild Records, 2011