The DIOP Circle V.36

March 22nd, 2020


Ashley Richardson

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we hear from Ashley Richardson. She's the 1,140th person to join our community and finds our maroon hoodie very comfy. She's going to tell us how music has framed her life.

According to my Mom, when I was two years old the first song I ever sang was “Hold On” by En Vogue.

My Mom loved all of those ‘90s R&B sensations like Jade and Total. It was her thing so it made sense I came out of the womb singing. The first song I could actually remember was “Weak” by SWV. I didn’t really get it because I was so young but even then I could understand the vulnerability.

Through my family mostly, I discovered other kinds of music. My eldest brother introduced me to Hip Hop like Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep while my Aunt enjoyed rock like the Doobie Brothers and The Eagles. And through my Mom’s R&B and my Dad’s country music, I had a strong grounding. Music became my mantra, guiding my moods.

I received awards in singing from my school for the district, city, and state. My music teachers exposed me to many different types of music. I learned to appreciate all genres. It just stuck to me. Even to this day, I love musicals like The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and The Wiz. I was especially taken with classical and opera. I was always smitten by the storylines, talent, and other intricacies that went into the performance.

The most challenging part was learning the nuances of different languages, especially Latin, which initially, I hadn’t taken before. The priority was to learn how the person sung in order to properly articulate the feelings. That was the fun part though. Figuring out the inflection of the voice took a lot of creativity. I had to put my own spin on it without taking away from the essence of the art. Playing piano and keyboard, I wrote a lot of music.

Until I was 20, I saw a path forward professionally in music. What changed was that the more I wrote, the more I began to feel more pressure. I was working through a lot of emotions at the time and because of music, I felt pulled in too many different directions. I’m a free spirit to my core but the creative process didn’t feel free anymore. I decided it would be best if I pursued it as a hobby instead of a career.

I like to go to open mics. Sometimes I perform but for the most part I go to observe. I like to watch not only the performers, but the vibe of the people there too. They hear music from their own point of view, much like how you might write music from your own perspective. I can’t speak for others but I write about my own experiences, from some random stray thought to a beat I made up. In general, I try to get things out of my head and onto paper. And if I play around with it enough, it becomes interesting.

Sometimes, I write to nothing. And then once I hear the beat in my head, that becomes the premise. From there I’ll play notes based on that idea and try to find the right fit. When I hear music, I go past the lyrics. I listen for the details others can’t hear like the syncopation in the beat for example. I ask myself how they put it together.

I like to make music together with my friends Torrin and Billy Mercury as well as hit up Cipher Tuesdays to vibe with my boy Q5. We’ve been able to do a few things together on different levels. Whether it’s a jam session, recording music or just supporting each other at a show, the atmosphere brings me full circle. Virginia is a huge melting pot full of various artists waiting to be heard; it’s a beautiful meeting of the minds. Not only is it great to hear what goes into their thought process, it’s a good feeling to do something that you like with people you like. Being around them is like being home. I know that’s where I’m supposed to be.

When you make music, it reflects you. That truth almost got away from me. I had to collect myself and get back to it because I didn’t want anyone to try and change me. The most important thing is to take the time to find out what works for you. For me, it’s turning on something funky like Anderson Paak, H.E.R., PJ Morton, or Masego and vibing out. Be yourself, even if it means Moonwalking to a classical song and doing the Shmoney Dance to your favorite Gospel track. Be a walking contradiction. Above all, curate your own playlist.


The DIOP Circle V.36

March 22nd, 2020


Ashley Richardson

Every Sunday, we publish a story from a member of the DIOP community. Because each and every one of you is on a journey and we're right there with you.

This week, we hear from Ashley Richardson. She's the 1,140th person to join our community and finds our maroon hoodie very comfy. She's going to tell us how music has framed her life.

According to my Mom, when I was two years old the first song I ever sang was “Hold On” by En Vogue.

My Mom loved all of those ‘90s R&B sensations like Jade and Total. It was her thing so it made sense I came out of the womb singing. The first song I could actually remember was “Weak” by SWV. I didn’t really get it because I was so young but even then I could understand the vulnerability.

Through my family mostly, I discovered other kinds of music. My eldest brother introduced me to Hip Hop like Wu-Tang Clan and Mobb Deep while my Aunt enjoyed rock like the Doobie Brothers and The Eagles. And through my Mom’s R&B and my Dad’s country music, I had a strong grounding. Music became my mantra, guiding my moods.

I received awards in singing from my school for the district, city, and state. My music teachers exposed me to many different types of music. I learned to appreciate all genres. It just stuck to me. Even to this day, I love musicals like The Sound of Music, My Fair Lady, and The Wiz. I was especially taken with classical and opera. I was always smitten by the storylines, talent, and other intricacies that went into the performance.

The most challenging part was learning the nuances of different languages, especially Latin, which initially, I hadn’t taken before. The priority was to learn how the person sung in order to properly articulate the feelings. That was the fun part though. Figuring out the inflection of the voice took a lot of creativity. I had to put my own spin on it without taking away from the essence of the art. Playing piano and keyboard, I wrote a lot of music. Until I was 20, I saw a path forward professionally in music. What changed was that the more I wrote, the more I began to feel more pressure. I was working through a lot of emotions at the time and because of music, I felt pulled in too many different directions. I’m a free spirit to my core but the creative process didn’t feel free anymore. I decided it would be best if I pursued it as a hobby instead of a career.

I like to go to open mics. Sometimes I perform but for the most part I go to observe. I like to watch not only the performers, but the vibe of the people there too. They hear music from their own point of view, much like how you might write music from your own perspective. I can’t speak for others but I write about my own experiences, from some random stray thought to a beat I made up. In general, I try to get things out of my head and onto paper. And if I play around with it enough, it becomes interesting.

Sometimes, I write to nothing. And then once I hear the beat in my head, that becomes the premise. From there I’ll play notes based on that idea and try to find the right fit. When I hear music, I go past the lyrics. I listen for the details others can’t hear like the syncopation in the beat for example. I ask myself how they put it together.

I like to make music together with my friends Torrin and Billy Mercury as well as hit up Cipher Tuesdays to vibe with my boy Q5. We’ve been able to do a few things together on different levels. Whether it’s a jam session, recording music or just supporting each other at a show, the atmosphere brings me full circle. Virginia is a huge melting pot full of various artists waiting to be heard; it’s a beautiful meeting of the minds. Not only is it great to hear what goes into their thought process, it’s a good feeling to do something that you like with people you like. Being around them is like being home. I know that’s where I’m supposed to be.

When you make music, it reflects you. That truth almost got away from me. I had to collect myself and get back to it because I didn’t want anyone to try and change me. The most important thing is to take the time to find out what works for you. For me, it’s turning on something funky like Anderson Paak, H.E.R., PJ Morton, or Masego and vibing out. Be yourself, even if it means Moonwalking to a classical song and doing the Shmoney Dance to your favorite Gospel track. Be a walking contradiction. Above all, curate your own playlist.


Ashley Richardson

Follow Ashley @Phive5BrownEyes

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.


- Ashley Richardson


Follow Ashley @Phive5BrownEyes

The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of DIOP.