One Thousand Days Transformed - The Campaign for Cedarville

by Ella Smith

The music of Motown in the mind of Soraya Ashleigh, a sophomore studying music at Cedarville University, is on display with the release of her first song, “Tattoos.” The suburban Detroit, Michigan, resident’s song is an expression of her musical abilities, and it taps into her experiences and emotions as a college student. 

“My whole goal is to impact others with this song, and ultimately all music that I create,” said Ashleigh, who is from Waterford. “Every face has a story and people deal with things differently, and I have gone through many times in my life where I’ve thought, ‘I’m the only one dealing with this,’ and that is just not true. Hopefully, my songs will help others along their journey.”  

Growing up playing piano since she was 5, cello since she was 8 and choir throughout middle and high school, Ashleigh developed a wealth of experience in different genres that displays itself in her music. Her experience singing in different choirs and the jazz band on campus has also impacted the unique blend of genres she puts into her music. Her studies also influence how she writes and performs music. 

“I’ve always enjoyed singing contemporary, but I’ve studied classical, so I know the theory and aural skills behind it — all of these different pieces that play into the larger picture,” said Ashleigh. “I think that music education is helpful because modern music is severely lacking knowledge behind how the music works.” 

Though she has a lot of training that goes into her music, the writing process itself is often a very emotional and spontaneous process.  

“A lot of times if I am feeling any kind of strong emotion, the first place I will go to is the practice room,” said Ashleigh. “I will start playing around on the piano, some words will come out and, boom, there’s a song or at least part of one that I can expand on later.” 

Ashleigh noted how music has helped her feel and process her own emotions. She hopes her emotional and vulnerable lyrics will allow others to do the same. 

“My music is an outlet for me, and I want it to be an outlet for other people too. I want them to have something deep that they can relate to. I try to tap into lyrics that are vulnerable, deep and sometimes uncomfortable, as a way of reaching that audience,” said Ashleigh. “I just hope that people will be able to find some part of the music that relates to them and be able to connect with that.” 

Through studying at Cedarville, Ashleigh has been able to grow and develop her skills further and hopes to one day open a studio where she can teach piano, cello and vocal lessons, while also having a section to record music in. 

“My professors have poured into my life and had a huge impact on my confidence, my technique and just everything.” 

Ashleigh is currently working on recording more songs that she hopes to release soon. 

Located in southwest Ohio, Cedarville University is an accredited, Christ-centered, Baptist institution with an enrollment of 5,456 undergraduate, graduate, and dual enrolled high school students in more than 175 areas of study. Founded in 1887, Cedarville is one of the largest private universities in Ohio, recognized nationally for its authentic Christian community, rigorous academic programs, such as their music major, high graduation and retention rates, accredited professional and health science offerings, and the #4 national ranking by the Wall Street Journal for student engagement. For more information about the University, visit

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