Back to the 90's again this week to talk about Susan Ashton (born Susan Rae Hill, July 17, 1967), a contemporary Christian music and country music artist who topped the Christian charts throughout the 1990s. In 1991 she began using her mother's maiden name, Ashton, when she recorded her first single, in order to distinguish herself from CCM singer Kim Hill.
In 1991, she released her debut album, Wakened by the Wind, which became the top-selling debut in the history of the Sparrow Records label, with Ashton repeatedly reaching number one in the Christian charts that year. She was nominated for a Dove award for New Artist of the Year and won a CCM readers and reporters poll for Best New Artist. This album produced hits like "Down On My Knees" and "In Amazing Grace Land."
In 1992, her second album, Angels of Mercy, produced four CCM number one singles and was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Pop Gospel Album category. Songs like "Hunger and Thirst," "Walk On By," and perhaps the most recognized of these is "Here In My Heart."
In 1993 Ashton released her self-titled album, Susan Ashton. She won the 1993 CCM Readers Award for Favorite Inspirational Album and a reporters poll for Best Female Artist. The album included hits like "Waiting For Your Love To Come Down."
In 1994, Ashton, in collaboration with CCM artists Margaret Becker and Out of the Grey's Christine Denté, released a trio album Along the Road.
Also in 1994, Garth Brooks approached Ashton to open for him on his European Tour. She stated in 2005,"I did a leg of his '94 European tour, but we weren't playing to his largest crowds. But there was still something very special about his audience. Initially I was a little nerve-wracked, worrying they'd boo me off the stage, but I got a wonderful response. I was also really nervous about meeting him, but he was so nice and supportive. He told me if there was anything I ever needed, just to let him know."
So Far... The Best of Susan Ashton Volume 1, an album of mostly previously released singles, was released in 1995, and featured a newly recorded track entitled "Stand."
A Distant Call was released in 1996. This album included two songs co-written by Sheryl Crow, and one with the late Kevin Gilbert who wrote many hit songs for Crow. Wayne Kirkpatrick once again provided significant songwriting for the album, co-writing several songs with Ashton. Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith also provided co-writing credits on one song each. Alison Krauss provided background vocals for "Love Profound." I think the best song off this album is "You Move Me." Garth Brooks would release his own version of Ashton's single "You Move Me" on his own album Sevens the following year, which became an international hit.
Ashton provided vocals along with Collin Raye for the 1997 Jim Brickman single "The Gift", from Brickman's Christmas album of the same name. That single was number one on the pop charts for three consecutive weeks. In 1999, Ashton her first non-CCM album Closer. She reached the country music charts with "You're Lucky I Love You", which peaked at No. 38 on country music charts.
In 2005 Ashton released a second trio album. Originally released only in Australia and Europe as Kisses from Heaven, the album was eventually released in the United States as Lost in Wonder: Voices of Worship. This album was recorded with Michelle Tumes and Christine Denté.
In 2006 Sparrow Records released Susan Ashton: The Ultimate Collection, a two-CD set of previously released material. On March 5, 2013, Ashton released Thief, a self-distributed six-song EP. This marked her return to the music business.
Ashton has recorded eight studio albums to date. She has also charted fourteen number one hits on the Christian charts, and four singles on the Hot Country Songs charts.