Ashley Smetherman Lemmler
Ashley holds a B.A. from the University of New Orleans and an M.F.A. from Tulane University in Music/Vocal Performance. As a performer, Ashley is well known to Musical Theatre audiences in and around the New Orleans area. Some favorites among many leading roles in her past have been Eliza Doolittle in “My Fair Lady” at Rivertown Repertory Theatre, Yum Yum in the “Mikado” at Jefferson Performing Arts Society Theatre, Grace Farrell in “Annie” at Tulane Summer Lyric Theatre, and most recently Betty Haynes in “White Christmas” at Le Petit Theatre. This summer Ashley is looking forward to playing Nancy in FUMC’s production of “Oliver!”.
Ashley also sings with the 11 piece dance band “Jubilation”, which she owns with her husband Michael. Jubilation has performed all over New Orleans for many years at various conventions, weddings, parties, and carnival balls. In addition to her work with Jubilation, Ashley has been a featured singer with many local bands including the Leif Pedersen 1940’s Big Band, Louisiana Spice, The Jimmy Maxwell Orchestra, the Joe Krown Band, The Jerry Embree Band, and the Mark Carson Band, as well as with artists Ronnie Kole and Harry Connick, Sr. Ashley also performs often with the band Swing Set, which is an Andrews Sisters type female vocal trio. Swing Set has performed at such high profile public events as Southeastern University’s Fanfare, Ponchartrain Vineyard’s “Jazz in the Vines” and the New Orleans French Quarter Festival . Swing Set has also entertained at many celebrations at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans. Finally, Ashley has been a featured jazz singer in such venues as the Ritz Carlton Hotel, The Windsor Court Hotel, and Harrah’s Casino in New Orleans. In addition to completing both of her college degrees in music, Ashley completed her vocal Music Education Certification. Before moving to Mandeville after Katrina, Ashley taught General Music and Choir at Metiairie Park Country Day School in Metairie, LA, and class piano through the Preparatory Department at LoyolaUniversity. Currently, Ashley directs the Beginning, Advanced, Women’s and Mixed Choirs at Fontainebleau High School in Mandeville. Ashley’s groups consistently earn Superior Ratings at District and State Festivals, and many of her students are acceptedinto AllState Choirs every year. This year, two of Ashley’s students were accepted into the Southern Division Honor Choir and attended a conference in Memphis. Ashley is a member if the American Choral Directors’ Association and has served as the Repertoire and Standards Chairperson for Junior High Choral Music in the past. This year, Ashley presented as a panel member for a discussion of standards for student teachers in Music Ed. at the LA-ACDA convention in Baton Rouge. Ashley is also a member of the Music Educators’ National Conference and its local chapter, the Louisiana Music Educators’ Association. In that organization, she serves as her district’s Treasurer as well as chairperson of District Solo and Small Ensemble Festival. Ashley also teaches private voice and piano.
*I would like to add on a personal note that before singing for the services at FUMC, I had only rarely been moved enough to cry while singing – this may be strange to mention, but I have been in so many performance situations in my life wherein I was totally comfortable with the knowledge that I have a job to do - a certain part to act, a story to tell, or a message to convey. In that sense it becomes second nature to stay personally uninvolved. I had grown very confident about separating my own emotions from the performance process. I remember on the occasions when I’ve burst into tears that it came as such a shock! Initially I didn’t understand why I couldn’t keep it together. I realized after the second or third time that it was happening because of the sincere kindness of the people of this particular congregation – there is no part to play, and nobody else’s story to hide behind. Many of our Sunday mornings have been the most sincere singing experiences of my life. (Talk about getting out of your comfort zone!) FUMC has been the first genuine experience of the act of singing having emotional reciprocity. When things come together and people are truly moved by the music, the gift to me is so overwhelming that my gratitude escapes in the form of tears! I have gained a new outlook and I believe I’ve grown as a singer because of it. I don’t always reach the goal of inspiring myself as well as others – too often the craziness of the world outside takes over my brain. However, I now look for opportunities to involve myself personally in what I sing and I truly seek to grow spiritually through the process. Now I strive for the shared experience, which I believe is right in step with the evolution of my Christian Faith. Thank you so much for this FUMC!"
Mike is one of a group of rare keyboard talents: he possesses the ability to play left -hand bass while comping with the right; this ability increases his demand as a sideman and has landed work with such touring Broadway musicals as Mamma Mia, Miss Saigon, Phantom of the Opera, Annie, Grease, Jesus Christ Superstar, and The Color Purple at the Saenger Theatre and the Mahalia Jackson Theatre. Pianist, keyboardist, bandleader; composer,arranger and music producer Mike Lemmler attended NOCCA and continued his music education at Loyola University and the University of New Orleans. Extremely active as a sideman, he’s worked extensively with such local artists as George French, George Porter, Jr. (of The Meters), Lenny McDaniel, the 1944 Big Band, Jim Markway Quartet, Swing Set, Kim Prevost and Bill Solley, Leah Chase, Yadonna West, Earl King, Johnny Adams, Wendall Brunious, Bob French, Kermit Ruffins and Frankie Ford.He’s also on occasion accompanied such world-renowned performers as Chuck Berry, Lou Rawls, Bobby Vinton, Regis Philbin, Susan Lucci, Charo, and Patti Page. He also owns and leads the 11 - piece dance band Jubilation, which for over 30 years has been a part of some of Louisiana's most prominent social functions.
Mike is married to actress/singer/songwriter Ashley Smetherman Lemmler, and together they have performed as a duo, with Swing Set, Jubilation, and the Mark Carson Band. Mike has participated on recordings which include George Porter, Jr. and the Runnin' Pardners "Funk 'n' Go Nuts", Jim Markway Quartet "Forward Motion", Lenny McDaniel's "The Blues Side", Brasilliance! "Minha Joia", Yadonna West “Living Ain’t Easy”, Pete Fountain & Aaron Neville “A Creole Christmas” and soon-to-be released material from singer/songwriter Mark Carson.
Mike also leads his own original funk trio, Trifuncta. Their sound has been described as Tribal Tech meets The Yellowjackets meets The Meters. They perform original compositions as well as tunes by John Scofield, Ricky Petersen, Billy Cobham, Jeff Lorber, Carl Burnett, Bob Berg, and funky versions of classic jazz tunes. TriFunctA can be found performing in New Orleans area venues such as Blue Nile, The Old Point Bar, The Maple Leaf, d.b.a., Dos Jefes Uptown Cigar Bar, Club 300, Snug Harbor, The Banks Street Bar and The Green Room. Their first CD “Hangin’” featuring special guests Steve Masakowski (Astral Project), George Porter Jr. (The Funky Meters, PBS) and Mark Mullins (Bonerama) was released in a stellar performance at Blue Nile on September 20th, 2008. The show included guest appearances by Mark Mullins, George Porter Jr. and Jason Mingledorff (Papa Grows Funk). Currently, Mike is co-producing a new CD soon to be released by his older brother, Matt Lemmler (also a pianist). This CD features spirituals, hymns, and some popular music melded with fresh new jazz-infused arrangements featuring a world class jazz orchestra. Featured on this CD are performances by up and coming trumpeter Sean Jones, drummer Brian Blade (currently with Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock), percussionist Bill Summers (Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters, Los Hombres Calientes), and guitarist Shane Theriot (LeAnn Rimes, Boz Skaggs, Jewel).