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Ash Breeze in Merlefest's Chris Austin Songwriting Contest Top 3

Ash BreezeWillis, VA -- North Carolina's Ash Breeze is off to a solid start with the word that their song "Without Love" has made it into the finals of the prestigious Chris Austin Songwriting Contest for Merlesfest 2014. The song is 1 of 3 finalists in the Inspirational/Gospel category.

The band has also made it into the Top 5 in the Gospel category in the Great American Song Contest, a national competition spotlighting songs from aspiring songwriters and a judging panel of industry professionals. The band has also been chosen as a 2014 showcase band for the SERFA Conference (Southeast Regional Folk Alliance Conference) in Asheville, NC later this month.

This native North Carolina family band (formerly The Smith Family) introduced the bluegrass and Americana worlds to their exciting new sounds with the release of their self-titled debut album on Mountain Fever Records in February. The first single from the album, "Without Love," produced by Aaron Ramsey (Mountain Heart) released to radio several months ago.

Interestingly, the band is classically trained and stayed devoted to that world until switching to bluegrass in 2010 when these versed musicians took their musical expertise and applied it to this genre that they love. Consisting of father Allen on bass, daughter and powerhouse singer Nellie on fiddle, and three sons, Corey on guitar and vocals (also Producer of Generation Bluegrass documentaries, a video bluegrass project that is drawing a great deal of attention), Luke with his steady and polished style on banjo and Cajon, and Eli on vocals and mandolin, offering up a speed and finesse that belies his years. The band’s sound is distinctive, fresh, creative and mature.

It’s apparent that the band is heavily steered by their love of a variety of musical genres including folk, jazz, bluegrass, classical, blues and gospel influences. What you will hear is a distinctive sound strong on instrumentation and intertwined with tight, melodic family harmonies. "Our (music) is different," says patriarch Allen Smith. "It's really acoustic Americana with a gospel influence. It could be played on folk stations, as well as Christian and bluegrass. I don't know what it is, but I think it's good music.''

Daughter Nellie is gaining a name for her distinctive and soulful singing style along with her smooth, melodic, and award winning fiddle playing that has been greatly influenced by greats like Stuart Duncan and Andy Leftwich. Her sound, both vocally and instrumentally, is unique and adds to the promising musical menu of what Ash Breeze brings to the table.

Don't judge the group by their age, but by their identifiable sound that is fresh and sophisticated.

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