BET has a new hit with Kelly Rowland’s ducu-series, Chasing Destiny. She is making it her business, with the help of entertainment legend Frank Gatson, to put together the next big girl group and taking cameras all along the way. Not unlike the super groups of yesteryear, these girls will have to sing and dance their ways right into the hearts of America. The show is definitely distinct from reality show contests in that there is no format. Kelly has put a group of girls in a house for what has to be intense performance boot camp to perform and practice for a spot in the group. Well, there is no shortage of talent and I got the chance to catch up with ASH., one of the top 15 finalists and we got to talk all about her experience.

Interestingly enough, the elimination of Ash hasn’t done anything to stop her from chasing her own destiny. Truth be told she was well on track before the show even started. She is a graduate of the esteemed HBCU, Spelman College, where she decided to follow her dreams having changed her major from dual engineering to get a degree in Theatre. She’s been singing and touring all over the world with Janelle Monáe for about five years at this point; and above all, she has a spirit as beautiful and sweet as her voice.

HEED: A lot of times with reality shows and competitions, we watch and see people and think that it’s a phenomenon, and we don’t always consider that this is a persons dream and they have been preparing for it. What did you take with you going into the show?

ASH: Well, really touring is what prepared me for everything. Literally, the first episode you all saw, there was a PEPSI commercial they knew I had to do with Janelle Monáe, so I was shooting with Kelly Rowland from 10PM to 5AM and with Janelle from 6:30AM to whenever I had to go back, so I was literally on one hour of sleep.

Going to an HBCU, being around people who don’t think the way you think, learning to get your butt up and go to the gym, and practice if you’re a performer, all of those experiences for me are what helped me to just go there and work.

No matter how much experience I had I know that there is always room to grow so I was ready to roll my sleeves up, put my glasses on; shut up, and do my part.

HEED: Absolutely, and I think a lot of people would see that, you read as a person here to work who has this discipline and honest, transparent approach.

ASH: When I hear that I’m thankful because y’all get to see little bits and pieces but it was rough. Everybody there was on the grind. So I’m glad you were able to just see a good light. Thank you.

HEED: I’ve listened to both of your EP’s at this point, was there a different approach to going into a group atmosphere? What’s your process in going into the next gig?

ASH: I still sing with Janelle, so with her we have our rehearsals and all of that, but as an artist I’m independent so from marketing to writing music to producing music, and I also teach, so I do a lot. I just give it all my all. Nobody owes you an opportunity or purchase for your record, or to see you perform on stage, I’m always excited about music and artistry. This is what I am supposed to do so I am going to do it regardless. On the show, a lot of times I just sat back I didn’t bring any story like this is what I do or here is my resume, who cares? Because, we are all here. Artistry is a spirit and I think if you claim to be an artist they should see that flower from within.

HEED: Do you think you would ever do the group thing again?

ASH: I don’t want to say never. I don’t think so. My career is moving and wherever it lands me is a journey so I hate say never or no because I’m open to whatever the universe allows to make sense for me in my life, so I’m going to continue to write music and perform but I don’t think so, not after this, but it was fun!

HEED: That makes sense, seeing the trajectory of where your career is going. First things first you’re a smart girl. As soon as we find out about you we see you’ve toured, you do this show, and now an EP, this all makes sense! It’s the type of preparation you don’t see from a lot of artists, having that business side of it, how have you learned to find a balance?

ASH: Yea, I mean, the entertainment industry is such a big, big place and there are people at the top of that pyramid and to me people like Kelly Rowland, and Frank Gatson, people who have collectively over 60 years of experience. I don’t care how many shows I’ve done, I’m not gone pass up an opportunity to learn from someone who knows way more than me. An artist is an artist, it’s a gift from God and I believe you have to be humble and willing to learn and that’s how I dealt with Kelly. I’m grateful that they thought highly of me, and all the girls there are talented. That experience was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

HEED: I can only imagine. What would you say that experience has taught you about yourself?

ASH: Patience. I was very tired, especially that first week. People getting hungry, or on each other nerves, but you love each other through, being sleep deprived will challenge you, being on TV is a whole different can of worms, so I definitely learned to be patient with myself.

HEED: That’s definitely what they say! I know we have the “Just Like Me” EP out now, but what’s next what are you working on now?

ASH: Next is some press in LA, doing shows, hopefully opening up for some artists, and meeting with labels. I’m so excited to get on stage and having two EP’s worth of music to perform!

HEED: Right, which is crazy! Listening to the music I can’t wait to see the choreo!

ASH: Yes, I love performing. Listen, I’m so ready for just a twirl and dance, so just getting myself ready and preparing a great show and connecting with people.

HEED: Looking forward to it, so what are some of the things you take HEED to? What keeps you motivated and inspired?

ASH: That’s such a deep question. It really is just God. You know he gives all of us something so special and I grew up as a very shy girl, so to sit back and see my life and what it consists of is nothing but God. I have purpose to write these songs and to sing and he thought enough of me to give me a special gift, and I’m cool. Thank God for being cool. (LOL). So I’m definitely thankful and inspired for life and love!

“You have to make a decision. I wont let being sent home or lack of a record deal stop me from writing great music. You just have to do it and believe you can do it. That special thing, you just have to work your ass off, when the cameras aren’t on and dig in and believe, faith, that’s all we have, and it’s enough. That is all you need and make the commitment to your craft. Talent is just talent, and its not enough. You have to do your part and perfect your craft, its so much more than just having a gift.”

Our conversation was full of laughter and sharing and I find her to be completely awe-inspiring. There really is something to be liked about Ash. More than her work ethic and her talent, she just gets it and she has the most honest relatable approach in sharing and that’s something truly be respected in an artist. You can follow her everywhere on social media @IAMJUSTASH and don’t forget to watch Chasing Destiny on BET Tuesday nights at 10PM ET.


Interview & Story by Keith Andre Collins