"I was in the fourth grade and I remember my brother and I riding the bus home that day and we saw a car accident," recalls Ashlee. "My brother thought it looked like my sister's car and after arriving home we met my older sister and she confirmed it was. Life as we knew it changed that day. My mother never did seem to heal from it and I don't suppose a mother ever does heal completely from losing a child."
Ashlee's father raised the two children still living at home and insult was soon added to injury when the family's home burned during Ashlee's senior year in high school. "I've been raised in church all my life and without our faith, I don't see how we could have made it through these hard years," says Ashlee. "My mama being gone was the hardest thing I've ever went through. I can't imagine, someone as sweet as my mother having to be put through that but she will tell you that while she was gone, it allowed her to heal as best she could."
In June of 2005, Blankenship attended her very first bluegrass festival in Syria, Virginia and "was hooked" stated Ashlee. It wasn't long before she began to listen to her inner-voice and started singing at bluegrass jam sessions every chance she had. Later Ashlee, her brother and a friend founded the very popular bluegrass gospel group, Statement. The band recorded two CDs that were received well among DJs and fans and found themselves performing over 100 dates annually. Through the encouragement of her family and her new-found bluegrass friends, Ashlee Blankenship and Blades of Blue was born. With a stellar young group of musicians consisting of Blankenship on lead and harmony vocals; Joshua Underwood, banjo; Caleb Courtner, mandolin; Dustin Pyrtle, guitar; and Jimmy Creed, bass, this band is receiving tremendous attention from some pretty heavy hitters in bluegrass music.
The group made their showcase debut this year at the International Bluegrass Music Association's World of Bluegrass conference with one of their biggest fans, and 2010 Mandolin Performer of the Year, Adam Steffey at their side. "I feel like the sky is the limit for Ashlee," stated Steffey. "She has a powerful voice that can wrap around any song, whether old or new, and deliver it with authority and confidence." Banjo master Sammy Shelor states "Ashlee Blankenship is my favorite of the up and coming singers in the bluegrass industry. She's soulful and energetic with a great range and can sing anything from traditional to contemporary bluegrass with great feeling!" And the praise continues with Mountain Fever Records owner, Mark Hodges. "Ashlee is one of the most promising young singers I've heard in years", states Hodges. "She's as real as they come and we are just thrilled to be working with her."
Mountain Fever Records will release the first single, "Deep River", from Ashlee Blankenship and Blades of Blue to radio on Friday, October 15, 2010. DJs may download the single for airplay via Airplay Direct and Radio Submit. In addition, Mountain Fever Records is offering fans a free download of "Deep River" for a limited time directly from the band's website. The complete project will be released on Mountain Fever Records in January, 2011.