Memphis, the undisputed home of Blues, Rock & Roll, and Gospel, has long helped the world move to different grooves. It is also the history of the city that kenneled the creative fire in the soul of classically trained Bass Vocalist, Jonathan Ashley Blanchard. Born in November of 1976, Blanchard’s talent came to maturity while immersed in Memphis’s often raucous, inspirational, yet always divergent style of music and art.
HIS VOICE: Possessing a voice comparable in depth and richness to the great Paul Robeson, Blanchard—in the spiritual tradition of an ancient Afrikan Griot—creates music that allows his deep, soulfully rich voice to blend naturally with his compelling dramatic instinct. He movingly conveys the poignant words and melodies of the Negro Spiritual, and his unique style—“reminiscent of Al Jarreau, Bobby McFerrin, and Paul Robeson simultaneously”—offers great variety at any musical venue. No one should miss him deftly rifting through Jazz licks, while he masterfully imitates the sounds emanating from a Jazz Band’s instrumental section. His modernized and approachable style of singing creates such an uplifting song that it holds the enthusiasts of Popular, Classical, and Religious Song in sway.
Blanchard’s artistic tastes were first forged in grade school. However, by the time he entered high school his artistic curiosity had led him to sing in various choruses, and to act in a number of community theatre productions. While achieving the Bachelors of Science in Commercial Music and the Master of Science in Music Education Degrees from Tennessee State University, he learned to weave the various elements of his artistic nature into his magnetic style of delivery. His artistry transcends Jazz Bistro & Concert Hall venues, and his stage credits include roles as diverse as The Priest in “Your Arms Too Short to Box with God”, Bernardo in “A Westside Story”, Simeon and Potifer in “Joseph’s Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat”, Caesar in “Scipio”, the Ex-Slave in “Do Lord Remember Me”, The Lion in “The Wiz”. Black Manalogues Atlanta’s14th Street Playhouse Drawn also to film, he has appeared as an extra in several movie block-busters, done voice-over work for local and national concerns, appeared on Memphis WREG – Live At 9 program. He has been the featured singing artist on the PBS film “Underground Railroad – Quilt Code”; for Georgia Public Broadcast. Blanchard has also presented concerts, master classes, and demonstrations where his musical insights have captivated the imaginations of grade school, high school, and college students alike. In conjunction with Opera Memphis’s Educational Outreach Program—Black Roots in Opera, Blanchard toured throughout Tennessee’s major metropolitan areas to help celebrate the Life & Artistry of Paul Robeson.
Blanchard's operatic credits include affiliations with Opera Memphis and AmeriColor Opera Alliance Guild of Atlanta. He was presented with the title role of “Solomon” in the production The Seduction of King Solomon; a work written especially for him by critically acclaimed composer Sharon Willis. Other performances with Americolor Opera Alliance Guild include Madame C.J. Walker, Three Kings and a Prince, The Herndons, The Great Divide and The Candlers of Callan. Blanchard toured North Dakota as York in Corp of Discovery, an Opera about the Lewis and Clark expedition written by Michael Ching, Artistic Director at Opera Memphis.
Blanchard performed a concert at the 2010 National Black Arts Festival in Atlanta and sang musical selections from the Paul Robeson Song Book as Wycliffe Gordon, Jazz Trombonist, performed his musical score for Oscar Micheaux’s 1925 silent film, “Body and Soul” presented by NBAF Education and Public Programs.