Monica started playing the piano at age 3, and always quips that she should be a lot better than she is because of that! She was basically a prodigy as a child, always playing well beyond her years and featured at Recitals.
At 11, a Robert Pace teacher, Susie Watkins, came to town, and Monica took from her for 4 years. The Robert Pace method encourages improvisation and composition, which was perfect for Monica. By the time she was 14, she had gone through all 6 levels, and even took a course on how to teach Book I. When others were babysitting for money through high school, Monica was a certified piano teacher and had several students.
She obtained an undergraduate degree in Music at Manhattanville College, with a minor in English. Under her piano teacher there, Francis Brancaleone, Monica blossomed as a performer, while continuing to pursue composition as well. After college, she attended graduate courses at SUNY Purchase in Composition.
Monica also has a varied background besides music. Her first job out of college was at the world-famous booking agency, Columbia Artists Management, Inc. (CAMI). She did Publicity there, writing over 500 bios for the CAMI Roster, and also worked in the Festivals Division, which booked tours for large groups and famous name artists such as the Lipizzaner Stallions, the Canadian Brass, the Chieftains and several Dance Troupes from around the world, to name a few.
She played in a New Wave band for a while, and became a legal secretary. Within 3 years, she was applying for law schools, and went to New York Law School at night, working full-time as a paralegal. She also got a job during this time as an Organist at a Greek Orthodox Church on Staten Island, where she ended up playing for 10 years, and eventually converted to the faith in 2009.
Unfortunately, she contracted the Epstein Barr virus during law school, and had a hard time with the Bar Exam. But it didn’t seem to be an issue. She carved a nice niche for herself in Intellectual Property as a Trademark Specialist, and was a “go to” person for copyright infringement cases when needed. She was published in the Licensing Journal, a trade journal for lawyers in this area, after having won a national copyright competition in law school which led to the publication. It was all about music copyright infringement, naturally.
She worked for almost 15 years in the area of law, but September 11th changed all of that. She was there in New York the day it happened, and it made her realize that life is too short, that she had a talent in music she wasn’t really using, and needed to get back to her music.
By August 2002, Monica was in Northern California, still working in the legal field, but starting more and more to do music rather than law. By 2003, she was no longer working in law, and started to make a living full-time as a musician. She jokes that the money isn’t as good, but she’s a lot happier!
From 2003-2007, Monica formed the Monica Ashton Jazz Band in Palo Alto, and began to get a following in the Bay Area. This led to an incredible break. In December 2006, the Band recorded a full-length CD of Monica’s original pieces at the famed Skywalker Ranch in Marin County. Under the direction of Leslie Ann Jones, who ran the Sound Dept. for Skywalker, the Band produced a first-class CD which began selling mostly in Europe and South America almost immediately. The CD was mixed at Skywalker, and mastered at Capitol Records in Los Angeles.
From 2008 - 2012, Monica moved to Los Angeles and pursued a composition career. She was able to secure work as a composer for a musical, was commissioned to write music for several instrumentalists she met in LA, and also started to produce and arrange others’ music. She learned the Logic software on her own, and started to get very good at producing her own music, and others. Her background at CAMI and other music-related jobs throughout the years made it a natural for her to start a music production company, which she still has today.
Meanwhile, the Jazz CD continued to do well in Europe, and by July 2012, Monica secured a solo gig in SoHo, London at a place called Jazz After Dark, a place where Amy Winehouse had made her start. She marketed herself for Europe at this point, but then life took a different turn.
In October 2012, Monica decided to move from LA to the Southwest. LA was great in some ways, but Monica really found herself unhappy living there. And since she had started an online production business, she realized she could write music and do music production anywhere! And hopefully be a lot more inspired to write music than driving all over the freeways.
Monica settled in Prescott, AZ where she currently resides. Northern Arizona is beautiful, and much more affordable than LA. Musically, when Monica got to Prescott, it turned out piano players were in high demand, so she started to do some local musical theater, teaching, accompanying, playing for church services, and even sang in several groups.
She has, however, decided to cut back on a lot of local music and concentrate more on playing and promoting her own music worldwide. She is currently looking for work as a composer worldwide, and would be thrilled to get a film score, something she has wanted to do for many years. Of course, if the jazz band gets booked overseas, she would definitely tour the band.
In November 2016, the band was asked to play at West Point Military Academy. Monica was able to play with some of her original jazz band members, as well as some very talented local artists, for the Jazz Forum at the Academy. It was a wonderful evening. There was definitely still an interest in the CD and her music. So she has decided to continue to pursue this interest, wherever that takes her.
For more information on Monica, the band, her compositions, her production services and how to contact her, please use the Contact Info page provided.
MONICA ASHTON PRODUCTIONS
Monica Ashton Productions was formed in 2007 as a result of the Monica Ashton Jazz Band CD being produced. A website was developed and the CD started selling at www.monicaashton.com (an earlier version), CD Baby and on ITunes as downloads. The CD was marketed worldwide which resulted in airplay on www.smoothjazz.com, as well as other top notch jazz websites. In addition to marketing and distributing the CD, the Production Co. also started to record other works by Monica Ashton. By 2012, the Production Co.’s Studio in Pasadena, CA had recorded several original works both by Monica and other artists. In addition to recording, Monica also helped arrange pieces for others, recording and sometimes accompanied singers on recordings when needed. While in Pasadena, Monica produced a Musical CD Demo for her own commissioned musical Banjos and Bugles, wrote original music for a web series, and was commissioned to write chamber music by various instrumentalists, from as far away as Melbourne, Australia. In 2012, Ms. Ashton moved to Prescott, AZ, and has been able to continue to produce, arrange and compose music in her home Studio, mostly thanks to the internet and several contacts she has made worldwide. She has also recorded a few original pieces and arranged them for local artists and composers in Prescott. Since she is a teacher as well, she has arranged several pieces for her piano students, and has written some Greek Orthodox choral arrangements for her church choir in Phoenix.
Ms. Ashton uses IMacs, Logic, Garage Band, Roland keyboards and MOTU products in the Studio, as well as Shure, Sennheiser and Audio Techniques microphones. She uses Sibelius for notation software.
MONICA ASHTON JAZZ BAND
The Monica Ashton Jazz Band originally formed in the Bay Area in 2004. By 2006, the Band had an extensive following and played throughout the Bay Area consistently. In December 2006, the Band recorded a full-length CD at Skywalker Sound which was mixed at Skywalker and mastered at Capitol Records in Los Angeles. Released in October 2007, by Monica Ashton Productions, LLC, the Monica Ashton Jazz Band CD began to sell in Europe and South America almost instantaneously. In 2007, to announce the CD coming out, the Band played for the E4 Video Game Convention in Los Angeles. In 2008, 2 members of the Band did a Promotion Tour of the West Coast of the CD that resulted in several radio show broadcasts, airplay on the West Coast, placement of the CD in several music stores on the Coast, and an invitation to play in Monterey at a small Jazz venue, and at the SoHo Club in Santa Barbara, CA, where the full Band performed in 2009. In 2010, the Band auditioned and was entered for The Festival, which is a week-long Festival of music of all kinds which was to take place in different places all over the world every year, but would start in Europe. Monica became a member of the production team of the Festival, and is still hoping this amazing concept will take place in the next few years, which would, of course, include the Band. In 2012, Monica was offered a solo gig in SoHo, London at Jazz After Dark, where she performed her own original pieces. From 2012 - 2016, Monica concentrated on other areas of her musical career, but the CD was still available for purchase on ITunes, Amazon, Rhapsody and Spotify, in addition to her website. It is still available today, and you can purchase downloads of the CD here from the "Buy" Link.
Most recently, in 2016, the Band was asked to play at the West Point Military Academy in New York. Monica was able to secure Brad Hubbard, one of the original members, as well as other talented musicians in the area to perform there in the exquisite Haig Room at West Point for their Jazz Forum. It was a great success! As a result, Monica has started to market the Band again, and is hoping to tour the Band in Europe soon. Stay tuned!!!