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Ashley Yoder - The Voice of an Angel by John Lanier, Posted Mar 15, 2013

tn_Ashley_Yoder_AmPro.JPGAs the styles and sounds of music continue to progress and evolve with our ever changing culture from one generation to the next, many genres of music have stood the test of time while others seemed to have faded quickly like yesterday’s news. (Disco, anyone?)


These days, it’s not uncommon to become engaged in an occasional conversation regarding the future of Southern and Country Gospel music. For those who think this music is “just for old people,” as some have opined, perhaps they have failed to consider such talented young artists as Amber Thompson, 16-year-old Logan Smith, 19-year-old Victoria Huggins, Jordan Wilburn, Morgan Easter and many more too numerous to list here. Shining brightly among these young stars is one of Gospel music’s newest female vocalists, 17-year-old Ashley Yoder.


Raised in the Mennonite faith in the tiny town of Delmar, Delaware, Ashley accepted Christ and was baptized at the age of thirteen. She is the middle child of three siblings with an older brother, Jason, and a younger brother, Austin. Her parents have always taken their children to gospel concerts, introducing them to Southern Gospel music at a very young age.


Ashley was only five years old when she gave her first public singing performance as part of a school Christmas play. Around the age of eleven she began singing with her family, which fueled her interest in singing Gospel music. “I like the style,” she remarks. “It’s kind of a Country sound, and I like that kind of music. But I really like the message of Gospel music and the happiness in it. Although I do enjoy other styles of Christian music, Southern and Country Gospel has definitely brought some of the greatest blessings in my life.”


For the past couple of years Ashley has been blessing other lives with her own brand of Country Gospel music. She recalls the moment when her direction became clear. “My family and I went to see The Browns in concert one night. It was there the Lord spoke to me and I knew then what I was supposed to do, and that was to sing for Him.”


And God has opened one opportunity after another ever since. Ashley has shared the stage with artists like the Hoppers, Soul’d Out Quartet, The Browns, The Harvesters, Skyline Boys, The Talleys and many others. She has been afforded the opportunities to appear at some of Gospel music’s largest events including Singing in the Sun in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina and The Gatlinburg Gathering in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.


Dean Hopper produced her first CD entitled, “Just Ask” in 2008. Speaking of her first experience in the studio, she says, “It was a lot of work, but it was an awesome experience and Dean was great to work with.”


In 2011 Ashley signed with MCM Universal to secure artist management and development services under the guidance of Mark Carman, who has worked with some of the biggest names in Country and Gospel music. Mark produced Ashley’s latest CD for MCM entitled, “Pass It On.”


“My dad sang some on this one,” Ashley proudly states. “We released three singles from the CD, and all have done very well on the charts. The latest single is called, My Heart Knows. People really seem to be enjoying this one and I hope it is touching lives.”


Ashley mentioned that she is currently reviewing songs and making preparations to record a new CD to be released later this year. When asked if she ever wrote any of her own material, she timidly replied, “Well, I’ve tried my hand at songwriting, but haven’t branched out with it. I’ve written a few songs, but haven’t let anyone see them yet.”


Perhaps, with a bit more nurturing and encouragement, Ashley will eventually blossom as a songwriter. After all, she’s been attending the Steve Hurst School of Music since 2008, which she says has really helped her in many other areas of music thus far. “It’s a lot of fun and I’ve learned a lot,” she says with a grateful heart. “They teach everything from music theory to stage presence and more. Things like learning to find my range, sing in pitch and proper breathing have greatly enhanced my singing abilities.”


While the training is beneficial vocally, she says the fellowship is uplifting and encouraging to her spirit as well. “We have concerts, worship times and other activities, and it’s really been a great experience meeting people and making new friends...being with people who share the same goals.”


And without hesitation, Ashley says her goal is to tell as many people about Jesus as she can through Gospel music. “One of the things they emphasize at the Steve Hurst School of Music is to communicate a song, not just sing it. Bring out the truth in the message of the song and let the people know who you’re singing about.”


“And above all, the glory goes to God alone,” she adds, which is also her initial response to finding out that she has been nominated for ‘Female Horizon’ in the 2013 Country Gospel Music Fan Awards. Gospel music fans - young and old alike - have warmly embraced her and have showed their appreciation with this nomination. It’s been said by both industry professionals and fans that Ashley has the voice of an angel, and just as endearing is the humility of Christ demonstrated through her attitude and soft-spoken demeanor.


Ashley has no doubt that God has brought her to where she is today and has blessed her singing ministry immensely. But when asked about her future endeavors, she says, “Well, to be honest, I’m not really sure where God will lead me from here.”


It was interesting to learn that Ashley loves to work with children probably about as much as she loves to sing. “I do want to work with kids somehow. I love doing that. I’m excited about our church’s Vacation Bible School coming up...to be able to help children and see the smiles on their faces, it’s really an awesome thing.”


“I’m not really sure what my future holds,” she continues. “But I want to go wherever God leads me. I’m just taking it one day at a time.”



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