In an industry dominated by youth, Soul-R&B Singer, Songwriter, Recording Artist, Marilyn Ashford- Brown is clearly the exception. Call her “old-school” or whatever you wish, but she has class and style that is uniquely her own, and on stage is her comfort zone. This lady is proving to have wide-range marketable potential abroad. Geographically, her CD sales continue to generate sales from such faraway places as the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Sweden, France, Germany, Tokyo and Canada all while generating a lot of “buzz” and RAVE reviews. The Washington Post writes, “Marilyn Ashford-Brown isn’t the sort of R&B vocalist who needs to rely on songwriters for inspiration, and her output almost always seems tailor-made to suit her talents and capitalize on her influences”. Her sound has often been compared very much to the late, Phyllis Hyman, Stephanie Mills and Pattie LaBelle. But, she truly has her own unique style.
At a very young age it was apparent that Marilyn loved to sing. Growing up music was and still remains her passion. This Washington, D. C. native’s strong church foundation has been her strength in the many challenges faced during her climb to success. She has remained strong in her faith in God, believing that HE has given her a gift truly intended to bless others. By the time she began junior high school she had formed her first female singing group, Nature’s Children which stayed together beyond graduating high school. Though the group eventually fell apart, Marilyn continued pursuing her dream of making it big in the recording industry. While attending the University District of Columbia, she was asked to join a new female singing group calling themselves Sasss. The group developed an amazing sound which established the name and kept them working doing recording sessions.
Under the direction of Producer, Dexter Wansel and Songwriter, Cynthia Biggs the group recorded with Pieces of A Dream and Lou Rawls. They also shared the stage with the late, Phyllis Hyman. During the early 1980’s they worked with local artists, Bobby Thurston and Gail Adams who’s music was very popular in the United Kingdom. Most notably was the hit, Can You Handle It, ORIGINALLY recorded by Sasss, but replaced by the lead voice of the late, Sharon Redd when Sasss could not reach an agreement with their producers. Though the lead vocals were replaced with Redd’s, Sasss background vocals remained. The success of Bobby Thurston’s “You’ve Got What It Takes led to a tour of the U. K. Two recordings were eventually released on Sasss in the U. K. produced by Dexter Wansel titled: I Didn’t Mean It At All and City Life. However, the group later broke up and a tour never manifested in support of these releases.
To her credits as an established songwriter, her first published song titled, Number One materialized as a result of a joint-publishing deal with Capitol Records. It was recorded by a new artist, Tamika Patten signed to Hush Productions, founded by Melba Moore and then husband, Charles Huggins. It landed on the Billboard Charts at #82. Though the song did not experience the kind of success hoped for, topping out at #75 was a major accomplishment for a new, unknown songwriter considering some songs never make the charts.
September 2009, Ashford Brown released Just Doing Me the follow up CD to the 2007 Still Standing release. Just Doing Me generated quite a ” buzz” via internet radio, expanding her fan base abroad. October 2009 she visited the Netherlands-Amsterdam to promote Just Doing Me while performing new music from the CD and engaging in a number of radio interviews. Critics attribute some of its success to the popular track one titled, I’ve Got A Feeling which is said to have “a modern old-school Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke feel chanting the likes of President, Barack Obama” near the end of the track. Considering current events taking place in the world, track one is very timely and of the moment. Let it be noted with the exception of two cover songs, Ashford Brown has written all of her song for these releases. Through hard work and perseverance she has independently financed all of her recording projects, rightfully owning the title as Executive Producer.
Ashford-Brown was privileged with an invitation to perform for the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation’s 2008 Awards Dinner where then Presidential Candidate, Barack Obama was the recipient of the “Phoenix Award”. Accompanied by the Clarence Knight Orchestra, she also shared the stage with Grammy Award Winner, Pattie LaBelle.
In June 2008, her 2007 rendition of Earth, Wind & Fire’s 1976 hit, Can’t Hide Love a cover from the Still Standing CD led to a whirlwind tour with Comedian, Steve Harvey for two nights at the famous, Kodak Theatre, home to the Oscars, Academy Awards and the Grammy’s in Los Angeles, California. In February of that same year, she auditioned and landed a singing spot in the popular Broadway play, Vagina Monologue starring, Star Jones formerly of “The View”.
Ashford Brown’s life and career has not been without challenges. One that abruptly placed her career on hold and almost brought it to an end was the loss of both her husband, Tim in 2004 whose death was preceded by her mother’s in 2003. As a result of her losses, understandably, Marilyn became withdrawn from the one thing that she has always loved doing. But, she’s back and more determined than ever to live her dream. She has held on to fond memories from this musical journey, often having flashbacks of Singer, Tony Bennett’s visit to her dressing room following her first performance at Blues Alley just to say how much he enjoyed her show. Marilyn once read a quote from Actor, Harrison Ford which has stayed with her for many years. It stated, “It’s the people who get on the bus, and stay on it which are successful, not the ones that get off”. She is so close to reaching her destination that the doors to the bus are about to burst wide open, and when it happens…watch out!