Songstress Marilyn Ashford-Brown
“Herstory” in the Making
Marilyn Ashford-Brown is an American Singer-Songwriter and Recording Artist of
trans-continental acclaim, who followed Paul Anka’s lyric lead in his hit tune, My Way, by doing it “her” way. In today’s ever-changing, youth-targeted music industry, R&B veteran Marilyn Ashford-Brown has not allowed the new epochs of the marketplace to hamper her musical ontogeny. For more than three decades the Washington, D. C. native has performed stateside throughout the surrounding Metropolitan Areas of the Nation’s Capital. She has also wowed audiences abroad, working venues in Hamburg, Germany, The United Kingdom, Amsterdam, and Costa Brava, Spain, largely by word of mouth and social media outlets. With five (5) independently released cd’s to her credit, Marilyn wrote and co-produced
ninety seven percent of the songs. She attributes her international success to her 2009 cd release entitled Just Doing Me, and simply trusting her instincts. Track one of that release, I’ve Got A Feeling, even today, remains timeless and of the moment. Although this cut did not garner much airplay on domestic radio stations, it managed to secure a spot on the playlists of international radio stations, including Tokyo, which led to international performance opportunities. Washington Post freelance writer, Mike Joyce, gave the Just Doing Me! release a glaring review in the publication’s September 4, 2009 Weekend edition.
Inspired at an early age by Diana Ross and The Supremes, Marilyn knew that music
would be her life. She formed her first singing group, Nature’s Children, while in junior high school. Her professional career began in 1977 while attending the University of The District of Columbia. During that time, RCA Records was looking for a young, female group to launch on their label, and she was asked to join a small ensemble of choristers, soon to be known as Sasss (spelled with 3 s’s). It wasn’t long after the group’s formation that their voices became the backing vocals for many recording artists.
Philadelphia International Records Producers/Songwriters Dexter Wansel and Cynthia Biggs El played a very significant role in Marilyn’s career, beginning with the writing and production of a two-track extended play (EP) single featuring Sasss, then comprised of Marilyn Ashford-Brown and Charlene (Cleo) Jones. The EP was released in the UK on Virgin’s 10 Records in 1985. The duo continued their work with Dexter and Cynthia, often hired for session work as background singers on various recordings by the late Lou Rawls, Pieces of A Dream, featuring the sultry saxophone overtones of the late Grover Washington, Jr., and many others. Dexter and Cynthia are widely known for writing and producing PIR music chart toppers such as Patti LaBelle’s 1984 number one Billboard hit, If Only You Knew, The Jones Girls’, Nights Over Egypt and the late Phyllis Hyman’s, Living All Alone, just to name a few.
Sasss officially disbanded in 1986, leaving a musical vitae of afforded opportunities and lived experiences in its wake that would prove priceless in Marilyn’s pursuit of a solo artist career. Of special note is former WHUR Radio Personality, Tony Richards, who gave Comedian/TV Host, Steve Harvey, a copy of Marilyn’s 2007 Still Standing cd, which features her amazing cover of Earth Wind & Fire’s Can’t Hide Love. Harvey
loved it so much that he extended Marilyn an invitation to open for him at the Kodak
Theatre in Hollywood, CA. Marilyn also had the honor and privilege of performing with the Clarence Knight Orchestra at the 2007 annual Congressional Black Caucus Awards Dinner at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C. Then, Presidential Candidate, Barack Obama, was the keynote speaker for this monumental event. These are the cherished musical episodes that continue to define Marilyn Ashford-Brown as Fortune’s child, who, in the words of America’s own late, great poet laureate, Maya Angelou, is “trailing wisps of glory.”