Who can forget the Pop music scene at the turn of the 21st century? Artists such as *NSync, The BackStreet Boys and Britney Spears dominated MTV, and there was a slue of boy bands popping up at every turn. If you paid attention to pop music at that time, or you were a 16 year old girl, you might remember the original group from ABC's "The Making Of The Band", O-Town and if you remember O-Town then you might remember me, Ashley Parker Angel.
A lot has changed since the O-Town days, but in order to know the future, you have to know a little about the past. I grew up in Redding, CA with my mother and stepfather who turned me on to music at the age of 3. My mother was a piano teacher and around the same time as I was learning to speak she began giving me piano lessons. At 13, my stepfather encouraged me to learn the guitar and before I knew it I had saved $2,000. While most kids were buying cars, I bought an 8 track recorder and began to write and produce music.
A woman who owned a talent agency in Redding took interest in me and began to help me pursue my dream. Through her office I was able to access audition breakdowns, which is how I first heard of the "Making The Band" auditions. I saved $800 for a plane ticket to Las Vegas and the rest is boy band history.
Looking back on O-Town I feel it was a positive experience to be able to get a crash course in the business that I feel I was born to be a part of. Most kids struggling to break into the music industry at 18 do not get the opportunity to be plucked from obscurity, cut a multi platinum record with Clive Davis, tour internationally and perform in front of tens of thousands of people each night. It was the chance of a lifetime and I intended to make the most of it. Even though we were not selected for our song-writing ability, by O-Town's second album I placed 3 cuts and proved myself to be more than just a singer.
One of the downsides to being in a manufactured group was the binding contracts and all the people involved taking a piece of the proverbial pie. I ended up owing more than I was making. The only money I really made was from touring and that only lasted so long. Even though O-Town was a multi platinum selling group the contracts we signed were geared to make the most money for the corporate side of the project. When O-Town dissolved in 2002, I packed up and moved to Los Angeles with very limited funds in pursuit of becoming my own artist.
I moved to LA at 21 years old with a decent savings (for my age), but not the kind of money that would let anyone live for more than several months without another source of income. At that point I started song writing on my own without any management or record deal. I was a clean slate. For the first time I was able to do my thing on my own and really concentrate on song-writing and producing.
I met with a few producers that I knew from the Los Angeles music scene in an attempt to secure studio time and work with someone who really understood the direction I wanted to pursue as a solo artist. I had a few songs written but not recorded, so to gain the attention of a successful producer, I performed my material on just an acoustic guitar in a sort of mini showcase. I decided to partner with SoulShock and Carlin as they really reacted to what I was trying to do musically. They had a great history producing for acts such as Sting, Tupac and Craig David and I felt they could help me get a record deal. I had very little money and needed studio time so I felt that this partnership was a perfect fit.
On May 5th 2003, I met the love of my life, Tiffany, and we have been together ever since. She has been with me every step of the way and has stood by me through all of the financial hardships and struggles I have gone through while trying to re-launch my career.
After spending a year recording with SoulShock and Carlin we organized several showcases in NYC and although I received several offers from a few major labels, I decided to do a deal with Barry Hankerson at Blackground Records and Vincent Herbert from Da' Family Entertainment. I had met Barry and Vincent a few times through Soul and Carlin while they were working on JoJo's record in Los Angeles. I really hit it off with Barry and I liked the fact that they had less acts and showed their artists more attention. I also felt that Barry and Vincent had an incredible ear for music, discovering such acts as Aaliyah, R. Kelly, Timberland and JoJo and I loved the family vibe at Blackground Records.
Around the same time I was signing my record deal with Barry, I got a phone call from MTV. They had heard some of my music and asked if I would take a meeting. It was at this meeting that they presented me with the opportunity to shoot a pilot about my life after O-Town and my struggle both financially and artistically to become successful again. I agreed and we began to shoot.
I spent the next several months recording with SoulShock and Carlin and after a cumulative year and a half in the studio, we had recorded 15 tracks that everyone seemed happy with.... but for some reason I only felt some of them were strong enough for the album. At that point I was being pushed to agree that the album was finished, but deep down I knew that there was more work to be done. I reached out to an old friend and legal advisor, Larry Rudolph, who had left the legal world to pursue a career in management, managing acts such as Britney Spears. We had a very close relationship as he was O-Town's lawyer and I knew I could trust his opinion. After listening to the 15 SoulShock and Carlin tracks, Larry agreed that the album was only partially completed and signed on as my management to help finish the album and guide my career.
So that's the soundtrack to my life so far. I am working on finishing my album and have been most fortunate to have the opportunity to work with incredible producers such as The Matrix, Dr. Luke Oswald and Max Martin since signing with Larry Rudolph. My girlfriend Tiffany is due at any moment, so it looks like I'm going to be a father on top of everything else.
It's safe to say that my life has changed in many different ways since being a member of OTOWN. You don't always get a second chance to prove yourself but every once in a while that opportunity comes along and when it does you better give it everything cause after all....
When the Music ends your life is a flashback, a question, a photograph a statement, a story, a struggle, a chance to laugh cause if you don't laugh you cry a last crescendo when you die so hit the rewind and listen as they playback the soundtrack to your life!