Upcoming local singer challenges South African youth to live out their dreams


Local singer-songwriter Ashlinn Gray, 20, is rapidly amassing fans and awards as she journeys into the South African music industry, challenging youth to break from the conventions of this generation and live out their dreams.

You would quickly recognise her single Battleships, which broke into the iTunes top 40 charts across the country in 2015, when listening to many local radio stations.

Last year, Gray released her single Nineteen. In May this year, that single came fourth in the Adult Contemporary category of the International Songwriting Competition in Nashville, Tennessee. There she competed with over 16 000 entries from 137 countries across the world. The competition was judged by the likes of stars including Lorde, Bastille and the American Authors.

The song, written together with songwriters Jake Odendaal and Simeon Kriel, is a critique on the insignificance of being 19 (Gray’s age when the song was released).

“I was so happy being 18, with all the big decisions to make and the hype around the age, but there was nothing to expect when I turned 19 so I was a little nervous. But I learned that the year is what you make it and I decided it would be a year of following my dreams,” said Gray.

After hearing about the prestigious award, Gray was less excited than expected. “It’s nice to get recognition, but I don’t look for it. For me, success is releasing a song and hearing someone tell me it’s getting them through a tough time.”

Gray is passionate about sharing her insight with young people and often schedules motivational talks at local schools to encourage young girls to live their dreams. “It makes them see that I’m not a far-fetched figure in the distance.”

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Singing didn’t come naturally to Gray, who began lessons at age 10 by tagging along with her younger sister and slowly improving as she worked at it.

After winning the South African Championship of Performing Arts in the musical theatre category at age 16, she decided to pursue her dreams and launch into the singing industry.

“I have always thought about my purpose since I was young. I knew that if I didn’t pursue it, I would not be happy. I don’t want to follow money and the general trend that society dictates… It’s a challenging industry and I knew that I had almost a 0% chance of making it, but I like challenges and I knew I wasn’t going to take the easy route. Music is a great platform to spark that idea in others.”

Fans can look forward to a collaboration with Clark Cables next month and many more singles.

Check out her website at www.ashlinngray.com and see her links to various social media platforms to get news about what she’s doing in the industry.

Sarah Koning

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