While most emerging indie artists aiming to gain a toehold in an increasingly competitive industry would launch their recording careers with songs that play it safe thematically, Ashley Delima went bold from the get-go and is yet to look back. Collaborating with her creative team, two-time Grammy winner, Marc Swersky (Joe Cocker, Kesha, Hilary Duff) & veteran songwriter Brielle Brown, she is now on the brinks of her third single release, “Fire in the Sky”. Mixed by Grammy winner Tony Black (Alicia Keys, Jay Z) the 20-year-old American born, Brazil-raised singer/songwriter continues to showcase her powerhouse vocals and visionary artistry by taking a stand against oppression, for freedom and most of all, for love.
Ashley’s 2018 debut single, “Stay in America, mixed by Mark Needham (The Killers, Imagine Dragons) was a shout out of support from the daughter of Brazilian immigrants to those struggling to stay in the USA. The infectious, universal pop anthem, pointedly captured our political and cultural zeitgeist and along with her sophomore single “Cigarette”, she has garnered critical acclaim. Ashley, recently signed to Monocentric Music/Onerpm, has secured endorsements with MAC Cosmetics, The Gap, Abercrombie & Fitch, was voted one of the top NJ musicians to know in 2019 by The Asbury Park Press.
Her debut EP, co-penned by Ashley, Swersky & Brown, is set to release in the Summer of 2019. Ashley incorporates a hybrid of live and programmed elements into her music to create a fresh, open-minded indie vibe. Swersky brought in a cadre of veteran musicians to help bring the singer’s multi-cultural musical aesthetic to life, lending a unique energy and immediacy to the tracks, including legendary percussionist Daniel Sadownick (Taylor Swift, Maxwell, Al Green), Demi Lovato’s touring guitarist Vin Landolfi, guitarist Eli Menezes (Estelle, Trey Songz, Lauryn Hill), pianist Alan Markley (Maggie Rogers, Deva Mahal) and drummer Adam Jackson (Ciara, Destiny’s Child, Bilal).
“As an artist, I never wanted to be like everyone else,” says Ashley, who was born in New Jersey and lived there the first seven years of her life before her family moved back to Brazil, where she immersed in her home culture while living there from the ages of seven to 17. “I wanted to be different in a positive way. I always want to be real, never settling into a safe zone so that I could tell the truth in my music. I don’t want to be quiet about something I think is wrong. I’m trying to spread unity and the fact that despite our differences, we are all connected and in this together. It’s important to share love. We certainly don’t need any more hate. I want my music to connect people of all ages and from all cultures. I want them to hear it and feel hopeful and inspired that better days are ahead.”
Though Ashley’s status as an American citizen protects her from the uncertainty of deportation, Ashley has been through harrowing immigration experiences with her parents, who are non-citizens. When she was 17 she decided to leave Brazil and move to New Jersey to live with her aunt, to pursue a better life for herself. Quickly realizing how lonely she was without her family, she felt herself slip into a deep depression. Her parents then made the difficult choice to try to return illegally to the U.S. to help their daughter. She met them in Cancun and then she and her mom went one way, and her dad another.
Ashley describes life and death situations, different detention centers and puzzled looks and intense interrogations from the Border Patrol as she helped her mom return. Her father was not so lucky. He was pulled over in Arizona, put into a maximum security facility and deported back to Brazil. “There were times when I wondered, ‘Should I stop all this and just return to Brazil?’” Ashley says. “But I know for now, it’s the right thing to stay and pursue my dreams.”
From the time she was three years old and first learned to speak, Ashley was dressing up like her pop idols, singing, performing and telling her mother that she was going to be like Britney Spears and Shakira someday. She received a Barbie karaoke machine and sang along with it every day. When she lived in Brazil, she saved her Christmas money to record instrumental tracks, then went out to local radio stations, telling the DJs to announce that she would be performing her own concerts. She attracted large crowds, and at one point recorded a CD of cover songs.
Swersky picks up the story from there: “I’ve known Ashley’s family off and on for 20 years, as her mother and aunts were my mother’s housekeepers. Her aunt eventually got the courage to ask my mother about what I did for a living. She had seen the gold and platinum records on the wall and the Grammy Awards. I then spoke with them and agreed to meet Ashley and listen to her sing. The qualities that stuck out were her charisma, her passion, the fire in her eyes, and then her incredible talent when she finally sang for me.”
A lifelong performer, she is eager to continue to share her music. “I love being onstage, I’m really excited about the opportunity to help everybody,” she says. “I really want to send a message to those who are struggling and their loved ones. As long as I can change lives for the better, I know music will always be an amazing journey for me.