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Friday, February 28, 2014

MOVERS and SHAKERS: Ashley Tucker, Vocalist Our Coverage Sponsored by Maine Woolens

Ashley Tucker

Maine Woolens is a weaver of blanket and throws located in Brunswick, Maine. We work primarily with natural fibers, like cottons and worsted wools and are committed to using renewable natural fibers from American growers whenever possible. We do piece dyeing and package dyeing in house and the combined experience of our excellent employees exceeds 300 years. Our wool and cotton blankets and throws are 100 percent machine washable, soft and luxurious to the touch, cozy warm and comfortably light. We have many styles to choose from. Our clients are very positive about our products and happy to support a Made in Maine, USA company. Jo Miller is a Mover and Shaker:

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Ashley Ann Tucker, daughter of David and Marlene, was born on March 1, 1987 in Worcester, Massachusetts. Although many people are not familiar with Worcester, it is the second largest city in New England and lies just 45 miles west of Boston. During the three months prior to Ashley’s birth, David, an avid fan of music, would often sing just inches from Marlene’s womb in hopes that it would elicit a response from the baby. Marlene would report more often than not that Ashley responded to her father’s singing by aggressively kicking and/or tapping her mom from within. Very early on it was evident Ashley had a talent to sing. Ashley’s dad often talks about the first time he became aware of Ashley’s amazing vocal ability. When Ashley was just three years old, securely fastened in her car seat while driving with her dad doing errands, a unique experience occurred. As always, David had the radio playing in the car. At one point during the ride, David recalls hearing a Mariah Carey song being played on the car radio. The song was “Vision of Love” – Mariah’s first solo hit. On this particular day, David was convinced he was listening to Mariah along with another famous female “pop” star singing the song. David recalls thinking that the voices sounded beautiful together and thought he was listening to an alternative version of the song. However, to his surprise, when he turned around to check on Ashley, he observed that it was his three year old daughter, Ashley, who was singing in perfect harmony and in unison with Mariah Carey! 

As a child, Ashley was generally shy and somewhat cautious but as her parents state she was strong willed and very creative. As early as age three, Ashley fell “in love” with Disney animation movies. Of particular interest were the Disney movies that featured female characters who were independent, strong willed, and had great vocal ability. One might even say she became obsessed with many of these female animation characters. Inspired by the angelic voices of several female Disney characters, Ashley was frequently observed by her parents walking around their home singing and taking on the roles of each prominent female Disney character. Her parents were in awe of Ashley’s incredibly mature, sweet, and captivating voice. Anyone who observed and heard Ashley’s performances during her early years, whether it was family, friends, or others, were convinced very early on that Ashley was destined to become a famous singer and to entertain others! Her favorite Disney characters were Ariel (the Little Mermaid), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Jasmine (Aladdin), and Pocahontas. Shortly after Ashley turned three, her sister Jenna was born. It was not long after Jenna’s birth, when Ashley began to persuade her sister Jenna to play a part in her re-creations of Disney movies. Of course, Ashley being the older more vocally talented of the two siblings would always take on the role of the lead female character while Jenna was assigned the role of supporting actor and/or actress. Soon after, Ashley was able to convince her friends to also take part in her musical theatre productions. As she grew older, Ashley’s interests turned to music television. As each year passed, Ashley’s voice became increasingly more mature and powerful. Her octave range was growing beyond belief especially for someone so young. 

In 2001, Ashley began attending Burncoat High School in Worcester, Massachusetts, a public high school known for its performing arts program. During her freshman year, Ashley auditioned for the female vocalist role in Jesus Christ Superstar; her sophomore year she auditioned for the leading female role in Footloose; in her junior year, she auditioned for the leading female role in Grease; and in her senior year she auditioned for the lead female role in the Little Shop of Horrors. Although Ashley was always complimented on her vocal abilities, she was surprisingly never chosen for the lead female role in any of these four high school musicals. Despite her confusion, disappointment, and dismay, Ashley never gave up on herself. On the surface, Ashley would sometimes express doubt regarding her vocal talent. But instead of giving up following each disappointment, Ashley’s resolve towards pursuing her dream of becoming a recognized vocalist strengthened! Before graduating from high school Ashley started to research other venues in which she could “show case” her vocal talent. She started by auditioning to sing the National Anthem for the Ice Cats, an hockey team in Worcester, MA in (year). The judges loved her rendition and she was selected to sing on two more occasions, in front of a few thousand people which at the time, was the largest audience she performed in front of. During her high school years, Ashley volunteered to sing at nursing homes, and for events such as, Toys for Tots held at the Friendly House in Worcester, Massachusetts.

After applying to several colleges including two known for their excellent music programs - Berklee College of Music in Boston (her number one choice) and UMass Amherst being her 2nd choice, Ashley was invited to be interviewed by the admitting committees at both schools where she was required to also sing. She felt good about her interviews and vocal presentations but she was not sure as to whether she would be accepted to either or both schools. She was accepted into both music programs. Ashley was particularly excited about being accepted by the prestigious Berklee College of Music but unfortunately her parents were unable to afford the tuition costs necessary for her to attend Berklee. Despite her mild disappointment, she decided to attend UMASS Amherst, whereby she was told that she was 1 of only 10 vocalists who they accepted into their vocal music program that particular year. Ashley loved UMASS but was disappointed with their music department course selection. Ashley believed the course selection at UMASS afforded her little opportunity to pursue and develop her vocal abilities. UMASS was primarily offering classical music courses which Ashley had little interest in. Ashley eventually changed her major to Communications and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications in 2009. 

During her school years, Ashley participated in a highly competitive singing competition in the Boston area called Shamrock Idol. Ashley was 1 of 18 accomplished singers invited to the championship round of this showcase. The eighteen finalists were narrowed down from what was originally a much larger pool of contestants. Her song of choice that night was the beautiful but challenging Whitney Houston song, “I Will Always Love You” - a song many experienced vocalists have performed but so few have done the song justice. Prior to her performance, Ashley observed an audience that was loud and un-attentive through most, if not all, the prior performances. Ashley remembers thinking that some of the vocal performances were excellent. Just moments before Ashley stepped onto the stage to sing her song, she recalled feeling highly anxious. She was concerned as to whether the audience that night would even pay attention to her performance. However, as Ashley started to sing this highly challenging but beautiful song, for the first time all evening, the audience fell silent. It was so quiet during Ashley’s performance that you could almost hear a pin drop. At one point during her performance, three out of the four judges stood up and applauded Ashley as she belted out the most challenging portions of the song. Although Ashley was the winner of the singing competition based on the judge’s score (149 out of 150 points), she was not declared the winner of the contest that evening. Unfortunately, the rules stated the winning contestant would also be determined by audience votes. Although Ashley had the highest score from the judges, she did not have as many family and friends in attendance that night as the winning contestant who had eighty attendees versus Ashley’s twenty-five attendees.

Shortly after Shamrock Idol Ashley connected with Tony Spears who lives in the Boston area and has great connections in the sports, music, and entertainment industry. After listening to a song Ashley recorded in a private recording studio in the Boston area titled “IF”, he became enamored with her voice and incredible vocal range. So he convinced Ashley that he would work hard at promoting her because he truly believed she had the potential to become a star in the music industry. Tony Spears has worked tirelessly on Ashley’s behalf. Ashley agreed to have Tony as her manager and she signed with him shortly thereafter.

In the meantime, everywhere Ashley performed she was approached by people who would say she should try out for the X Factor, American Idol, The Voice, and America’s Got Talent. So she started doing so traveling to Boston, Foxboro Massachusetts, New York City, and the Meadowlands. After waiting hours in endless lines and braving all types of weather conditions, Ashley made it to the second and fourth rounds during some of her auditions, only to be told in the end that, “you have a great voice but not today”, or, “excellent vocals but, what is your story?”

Despite being denied these potential opportunities for national exposure, Ashley has only grown more confident and self-assured and convinced that she will make a name for herself in the music world. She decided to take professional voice lessons to further strengthen her already marvelous vocals. With renewed confidence Ashley set a new course for herself. She decided to try out for the honor of singing the National Anthem at several sporting venues around New England. After auditioning, she was selected to sing the National Anthem at a Pawtucket Red Sox game, as well as for the Boston Bruins on four separate occasions (all four games were televised). She performed for the Boston Celtics (February 2013) and for the Boston Red Sox (August 2013). Ashley has performed for a total of nearly 150 thousand sports fans across southern New England. The reaction from the crowds at these sporting events was always positive and helped to strengthen Ashley’s resolve towards fulfilling her dream.

In 2010, Ashley participated in a more prominent singing competition and once again made it to the finals. She competed on a famous New England talent show called Community Auditions. Community Auditions is a talent show that is televised in a large portion of New England. The program features talented singers and musicians from all over the northeast. Contestants audition for the show and if selected have an opportunity to sing in front of both a live audience as well as a television audience. Over a period of several months, contestants compete against each other in hopes of being voted into the championship round. When Ashley competed in 2010, the championship round took place at the MGM auditorium at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut. Ashley performed and received high praise from the panel of three local celebrity judges. In order to be selected as one of the final four championship contestants at Foxwoods, Ashley needed to receive the most votes from the television audience. Not only did Ashley end up in first place in television audience votes, but a producer on the show told Ashley that she received the most votes of anyone in the history of the show! Well, in the end for whatever reason, Ashley did not finish in first place. A judge later told Ashley she finished in second place. Although Ashley was once again slightly disappointed for not being selected the winner, she was happy with the experience and continued to explore additional opportunities to sing. 

In 2011, Ashley again traveled to Foxwoods Casino to participate in open auditions for X Factor. The X Factor was holding open auditions and promised to fly the first place contestant to Texas to participate in front of the celebrity X Factor judges. Ashley finished tied for first place. She was the only female to finish tied for first place but in the end, they selected a male vocalist as the winner. Despite not finishing in the top spot, Ashley was recognized and attracted the attention of a local television station. A couple of producers from a local (Fox network affiliated) news station out of Hartford, Connecticut heard Ashley sing at Foxwoods and told her they felt she should have been selected as the winner. After a brief conversation, they were so impressed with Ashley that they invited her to be interviewed and to perform live on one of their morning news programs. Ashley enthusiastically agreed to their request and a couple of months later she performed live on their news program. She sang the same song she sung at Foxwoods earlier, Whitney Houston’s “I Have Nothing”, and once again received high praise for her vocal performance.

Ashley has performed at fund raisers throughout the Boston area; has been written about in the entertainment column of the Boston Herald, and performed twice at the prestigious House of Blues in Boston.

During another singing competition, Ashley was approached by an Atlantic Records Vice President Daryl Jones, and was invited to New York City to be interviewed. Excited by the opportunity, she and her manager Tony Spears traveled to New York to meet with Mr. Jones. Ashley was interviewed and was asked to sing a few songs. Mr. Jones told Ashley that she was very attractive and had a great voice but stated that in order to make it in the recording business today, she needed to develop a defined image and establish a large fan base. Subsequently, a music producer from Sony records was also impressed by Ashley but again she was told that she needed to develop a defined image and build a larger fan base. Her manager, Tony Spears, has worked tirelessly at establishing contacts and potential gigs which would enable her to gain broad fan recognition.

While Tony Spears and Ashley continue to work on having her signed by a major record label, Ashley continues to expand her musical horizons. Another opportunity presented itself when a musician who plays lead guitar for a cover band called Locomotion, a very popular and established band in Connecticut, contacted Ashley after watching her perform on the championship round of Community Auditions in Foxwoods. He told Ashley that she was amazing and asked her to consider trying out for the lead female vocalist for their band and that she would be a great fit. Ashley auditioned and they immediately offered her the spot as their female vocalist. The band consists of eight male musicians and Ashley. The band has performed all over southern New England for more than 25 years, earning Connecticut cover band of the year honors on several occasions. Needless to say, they, too, love having Ashley and her powerful voice as part of their band now. She has been performing with the band for several years and they continue to get rave reviews! The band performs in all venues and often can be heard at Foxwoods Casino and Mohegan’s Sun Casino. 

In addition to singing, Ashley has been writing and recording original songs for several years, working with local producers and song writers. Under manager Tony Spears, she has signed a music production deal with SureFire Music Group, Lowell, MA. Ashley is currently working with hit music producer and songwriter, Jimmy Kendrix and she is recording at the Bristol Studios in Boston. Ashley continues to hit the productions studio to record original tracks. Among her recent accomplishments was the successful release of her original song "Weekend" with its placement on the Fox TV show, The Terminator, and has her original song "If" on iTunes. Ashley is confident that her experiences and hard work will soon lead to even greater accomplishments, and perhaps, even a record deal is in her future. Ashley feels blessed to have been born with this vocal gift that she was meant to let shine. There are no guarantees in life but with Ashley’s great voice, good looks, passion, perseverance, and unrelenting determination, it appears that Ashley’s destiny will one day be shared amongst the stars!  We are thrilled to present Ashley Tucker as our latest Mover and Shaker.  Peachy Deegan interviewed Ashley for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: 
What is your first musical memory and can you tell us about it? 
Ashley Tucker: I recall at the young age of three, watching Mariah Carey's music video and mocking her every move. I would dress up like her and sing to my best ability every note.

What did your favorite Disney characters: Ariel (the Little Mermaid), Belle (Beauty and the Beast), Jasmine (Aladdin), and Pocahontas teach you about life? 
Ariel not only taught me to sing, but I learned to be thankful for what you do have, when she lost her voice in trade for her to gain legs, that was sad. It's easy to wish for something you don't have but we don't sit back and appreciate what amazing gifts we were given.

Who are your musical influences? 
Mariah, Aretha, Christina Aguilera, the Spice Girls

We admire your persistence and think that being persistent combined with talent is key to success. How do you feel about this and what makes you persistent? 
If everyone gave up on the first no, no one would get anywhere. I believe if you continue to try at something you should eventually get there. The 1000 of no's mean nothing once you receive that big yes.

Have the casting directors in your high school realized their missed opportunity in not casting you? 
I haven't been back since.

What does singing the national anthem mean to you and would you consider yourself a proud American? 
The anthem speaks to so many people who have served our country, I can't begin to understand what many of those men and women have been through. The anthem brings an amazing unity to a crowd of thousands of strangers, it's a very overwhelming feeling. It's one thing all Americans know and understand, it is a honor I have had so many opportunities to sing it.

We think X Factor should have you on the show. Will you audition again (and if you are on we are dying to meet Simon please)? 
I audition every year, I would love to get some constructive critique from Simon.

Has Patrice Bergeron decided on a song so he can sing a duet with you? 
In my dreams, I wonder if he can sing?

How about Tom Brady? 
He has Gieselle; she's perfection.

What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
 I feel I drive myself more then anyone; I fear failure.

What are you proudest of and why?
 I'm proud of how much I have improved as a performer in as little as two years. I use to be uncertain of my talent now I feel confident in it. I've matured so much when I look back.

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do? 
I would love to open for a major act like Christina Aguilera or Beyoncé.

What honors and awards have you received in your profession? 
I have won a contest or two. I have come in second for most. I hope my luck will change.

What one word best describes you and why? 
Goofy, sometimes I have difficulty being serious, I like to laugh.

What do you take your sense of identity from? 
I feel I am ever changing, I am pisces: my identity changes with my mood.

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan? And Boston? 
Boston I love to be in the Prudential. Manhattan I am not familiar with I have only been for auditions.

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan? And Boston? 
Bebe for both. My favorite brand and store ever. They get my style.

If you could hire anybody who would it be and why? 
I would love a personal chef to cook me healthy but yummy meals everyday.

What is your favorite drink? 
Mudslides, frozen.

What is the funniest thing that has ever happened to you at a cocktail party? 
Probably something I don't remember.

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan? And Boston?
 In Boston the Poor House.

Who would you like to be for a day and why?
 Beyonce, she has an amazing voice, she stunning, curvy and can dance. She's amazing my idea of perfection.

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why? And Boston? 
For both cities, a theater where new singers could perform and get discovered. 

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience? And Boston? 
I have never had an athletic experience in Manhattan, in Boston singing for the Bruins is always cool. I also enjoyed the parade from when they won the cup.

If you could have dinner with any person living or passed, who would it be and why? 
Jesus, I have so many questions.

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience? And Boston? 
I went to a jazz club in Manhattan once that was interesting. Boston, when I went to see the Spice Girls in fifth grade.

What do you personally do or what have you done to give back to the world? 
I try to donate money when I can, I always say that if I ever make it, I would love to really get hands on and help people.

What do you think is most underrated and overrated in Manhattan? 
Underrated the Statue of Liberty. Overrated 5th avenue, maybe cause I'm not rich.

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it? 
NHL Peachy of course!  I like the article about the bruins which shows the boston team in a great positive light.

Have you tried The Peachy Deegan yet and if not, why not?
Not yet!

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you? 
I am a passionate individual, I want to really make something of myself. Singing to me is all I know, I'm not sure what I would do if I wasn't born with this gift. I can't help but feel like there was a reason I was given my voice. I hope one day I can touch people with my music.

How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers? 

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