Making a Scene Presents an Interview with Naomi Ashley
With her cream and Kahlua voice, Chicago singer-songwriter Naomi Ashley captivates audiences, breathing vibrant life into her diverse range of songs. Navigating seamlessly through Americana, classic country, folk, blues, and rock, Ashley’s lyrically layered compositions charm with humor and a poignant understanding of the human experience.
Ashley’s prolific career boasts six albums and three singles, showcasing her versatility. The title track of her record “Trying to Fly” was featured on the Showtime Series “Work in Progress.” A four-time grant recipient, she has received prestigious awards from the City of Chicago and the Illinois Arts Council for her albums “Another Year or So,” “Trying to Fly” and various other projects. Her latest endeavor, the album “Love Bug” (Feb 2024), is proudly sponsored by a grant from the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE).
Hailing from Northwest Iowa, Ashley’s journey as a songwriter began early, but it wasn’t until she walked into an open mic at the famed Illinois music venue FitzGerald’s that she started to hone her craft. Chicago is a city of unique voices and Ashley effortlessly fell into the footsteps of the city’s greats, developing her own distinct style of songwriting and performance that deeply connects with her audience. Now with over two decades entrenched in the city’s music scene, she has become a popular and sought-after performer.
Ashley’s collaborative spirit extends to the literary and artistic communities of Chicago. She has collaborated with prominent figures such as writer/spoken word performer David Kodeski, poetry slam founder Marc Smith, and visual artist Zsofia Otvos. Ashley keeps busy as a member of countless musical projects. She fronts two bands of original music (Naomi Ashley Band and Naomi’s Other Band) as well as the popular Pretenders tribute band Real Pretenders. She is 1/3 of folk trio Rainy Day Women and backing vocalist for the Bob Dylan tribute The Zimmermen.
The breadth of Ashley’s songwriting prowess is unparalleled, crossing genres with ease. From the drifting poetry of folk in “Niagara Falls” to the gypsy jazz influenced single “God Bless the Naïve,” to the wry burlesque charm of “Love Bug,” and the George and Tammy-esque duet “Keep My Secrets,” her body of work is a testament to her ability to traverse musical landscapes with authenticity and masterful delivery.
As a performer, Ashley’s journey has taken her to renowned Chicagoland stages (FitzGerald’s, S.P.A.C.E, The Hideout, Hey Nonny, Green Mill, Acorn Theater, Navy Pier) and festivals (FitzGerald’s American Music Festival, Bucktown Arts Fest, Lakeview East Festival of the Arts, Sundays on State), where she has shared her music with diverse audiences. Her captivating stage presence and the soulful resonance of her voice have left an indelible mark on those who have had the privilege of experiencing her live performances.
Her latest musical collaboration with multi-instrumentalist Jon Williams, upright bass player Josh Piet and drummer Jason Batchko (Naomi’s Other Band) is her best yet. Ashley’s newest album “Love Bug” will be released on Valentine’s Day, 2024.
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