This tablescape reminds me of enchanting, magical evenings spent with wonderful friends. Listening to great music, drinking stellar wines, tasting fabulous food and laughing over stories and memories shared by one and all - simply unforgetable! One of my most creative and compassionate friends is celebrating her birthday today and this is a setting I think is befitting to her. Cheers Leah Ashby - Happy Birthday!
Singer: I know I am a miracle
Her father, L.J. Johns, an Assembly of God preacher, said it was up to the Lord, and the doctors took her off the ventilator but kept her on a feeding tube. When she came out of the coma, she began relearning everything.
In the spring, Ashby, 56, will sing mezzo soprano in the chorus for "Madame Butterfly" at The Orpheum for Opera Memphis.
She sings gospel for many charity benefits, such as Area Relief Ministries' "Salt and Light" banquet, and she's the music director at First Christian Church in Jackson. She first came to Jackson when "my dad took a church here and I came to do the music," she said.
When she and her husband David Ashby were living in Chicago and later in Atlanta, she directed numerous fundraisers.
Some would say her father was right and he received his answer.
"I'm a miracle," Ashby said in a recent interview at her shop, The Potter's Garden. "My parents said my EEG just had one small blip on it in the straight line. I know I am a miracle. And that's one reason - of many - that I love singing gospel so much and giving back to others in the community."
Laurice Lanier-Trowell, a Juilliard School of Music graduate and professional singer, has sung with Ashby before. Lanier-Trowell, who is now touring nationally with 3 Mo' Divas, said, "Leah Ashby is a gifted woman. Her vocal power fills a room like a bass violin. Her vocal chamber is full and reminds me of God's strength. She uses her voice to inspire others." The national performer said Ashby's constant work and performance with local groups is just part of her dedication. "Her love for people and the arts comes through her voice. Leah is not just an amazing singer - she is a gift to the world and everyone she meets from day to day."
The above is reproduced from an article in The Jackson Sun by Jacque Hillman.
Leah and David Ashby
In addition, Leah is marvelous on the keyboard. She plays by ear and just gets the right key whether it is Laurice Lanier or Michael Elred or her dear friend, Beverly Shelby. She knows as much about show music, gospel and praise favorites as anyone. And she encourages others to share their gifts.
Leah recently produced “Cole Nights,” a benefit for our Symphony League which featured local talent performing Nat King Cole classics. She graciously acknowledged all who had helped make the evening possible and tears slipped down her cheeks as she recognized her husband David as the true wind beneath her wings and sang “When I Fall in Love.” Today we should all sing “Happy Birthday” to Leah and celebrate her recovery, her gift, and her sharing spirit. Leah Ashby makes the world a better place.
1 (18 1/2 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1 (3 1/2 ounce) package instant vanilla pudding
1/2 cup spiced rum
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup water
4 large eggs
1/2 cup chopped pecans (toasted and soaked in rum)
Preheat oven to 325. Liberally spray a tube or Bundt pan with vegetable oil cooking spray.
Using an electric mixer at low speed, blend the cake mix, pudding mix, rum, oil and 1/2 c water.
Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Evenly distribute the pecans in the bottom of prepared Bundt pan. Pour the batter on top of the pecans. Bake 50-55 minutes until a knife inserted an inch from the center comes out clean. Do not remove the cake from pan.
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup butter
1/3 cup spiced rum
1/4 cup water
In a small saucepan, bring the sugar, margarine, rum and water to a boil and cook for 3 minutes.
With a fork, make holes in the top of the cake. Pour the syrup over the cake and let sit for 30 minutes while the syrup is absorbed. Invert the pan onto a serving plate. Allow it to sit for several minutes.
The cake will loosen from the pan.
Butter Rum Glaze
6 tablespoons butter
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons white syrup
1/3 cup whipping cream
3 tablespoons spiced rum
Melt butter in sauce pan. Add sugar, butter, syrup, and cream. When sugar is melted, boil for one minute. Remove from heat and add rum, stir as it cools for a few minutes. Drizzle on the cooled cake. Let glaze drip down the sides of cake. Allow glaze to cool and then add more of the cooled glaze which will be a little thicker.
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