Ashley Hess w/ James VIII
December 17, 2019
135 North University Ave.
Provo, UT 84601
Driven by heartfelt lyrics and soul-tingling melodies the California born, Nashville based artist, Ashley Hess enamors and draws audiences in. She intertwines Pop with R&B, backed by an emotional connection that produces an astonishingly powerful performance. ;
Although much of her music has a theme of sadness and heartbreak, there is a layer of hope and vulnerability that inspires. Her raw performance is contrasted with her infectiously goofy personality that shines through on stage between songs, as well as off stage and provides a balance that makes her relatable. This magnetic polarity has allowed her to share the stage with national acts such as Andy Grammer, Us the Duo, Jason Mraz, and Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons. Ashley grew up singing in church but music wasn’t at the forefront. It wasn’t until she moved to Utah that she started digging into writing and performing. It's there that she started creating her own music which ignited her passion. Hess has released three original singles, one of which, “Running”, was released in August of 2018. She is currently writing and preparing to record her first original EP that is set to release in 2020.
James VIII (James Gray Dawson VIII) has been making music since he was 10 years old, pulling influence from artists like Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, John Mayer, B.B. King, Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, and many more, most of whom he was introduced to while sitting in the back of his mom’s minivan.;
With such a wide range of influences, James VIII’s sound is not easily categorized into any one genre, but he defines it simply as soul music. In his own words, James VIII defines soul music as “music made with conviction and passion. You can hear someone’s heart when they wear it on their sleeve and that’s what I pursue every time I step on stage. I close my eyes, let my face look as ridiculous as it feels inclined to look, and lose myself in expression. I’m not trying to sound like anything or anyone in particular really, I’m just trying to get a feeling across in a way that will resonate.”;
His inspiration comes from his experience of the human condition. Tales of love, struggles with faith, political/social frustration, loss of loved ones, all things that can be related to regardless of specific life experience. This is why countless audiences, from his hometown crowd in Utah to the millions of viewers of American Idol’s 15th season, have found themselves making the “stank face” right along with James VIII’s powerful vocals and guitar virtuosity, simply because it connects with them on a guttural, and almost instinctive level.;
And although he does not like to brag he did request that it was included in this bio that during his Top 24 stay on American Idol, it is video-documented (and therefore permanent) that J-Lo thinks he is “good-looking”.;