Meet Susan Ashton

When Susan Ashtonís first single, "Down on My Knees," was introduced in 1991, radio station phone lines were jammed with calls. Fans wanted to know, "Whose voice is that?" The voice is a marvel. Itís clear and strong, steady and controlled. Release Magazine says, "Ashton hits notes like Annie Oakley hits targets."

Her first album, Wakened by the Wind, shattered sales records for the best-selling album by a new artist. CCM readers named her their favorite new artist in 1992. Every released single on her first two albums entered the top 10 on national Christian radio charts, with five of those soaring to number one, including "In Amazing Graceland," "Hunger and Thirst," and "Here in My Heart," which she co-wrote. In 1995, after only three solo projects, she released The Best of Susan Ashton, So Far, Volume One, promising the listener more to come! She has received more than a dozen Dove Award nominations, including a group nomination with Margaret Becker and Christine Denté for their Along the Road album. Her fourth solo album, A Distant Call, is a solid pop project produced by a trio of the bestóWayne Kirkpatrick, Brown Bannister, and Michael Omartian. The program includes her progressive musical interpretation of songs penned by an eclectic group of writers, from Kirkpatrick and Billy Sprague to another pop artist, Sheryl Crow.

In the broadest of categories, there are two kinds of singers: the singer/songwriter and the vocalist. Susan Ashton is a vocalist, and songwriters feel that she is one of the best at making their songs live inside her. Gordon Kennedy, who co-wrote (with Kirkpatrick and Tommy Sims) "Change Your World" for Eric Clapton, comments that "A song is safe when Susan Ashton sings it. She would probably be able to take a mediocre song and make it great." Susan Ashton has the unique ability to make the theme of someone elseís words and music incarnate in herself. Songwriters and producers acclaim that passionate ownership as a rare gift in a vocalist. She herself says, "When I select songs, they have to reflect where I am in my life right now . . . I donít sing songs just to sing a song."

Susan and her husband of five years, producer/musician J.D. Cunningham, live in a turn-of-the century farmhouse in Tennessee. Renovations are ongoing constantly with the house, as they are with Susan herself. "I have had to learn how to express my opinions without being offensive and balance that with letting people know who I really am so that they can understand that I am just strong-willed, not meaning to be offensive." If Susan has her way, one day the yard of her home will be transformed into an elegant English garden. And she herself will be transformed into the person God wants her to be. In reality, his call is not all that "distant," after all.

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