Praising Ashmont Hill!
Bridgit Brown | 12/7/2010, 10:37 p.m.
Not gospel, not spiritual, the music of Ashmont Hill
In 2008, a Christian music quartet known as Ashmont Hill released their first self-titled album and it spent a week at #16 on Billboard’s Christian albums 12 weeks at #10 on Billboard’s gospel albums chart.
The group’s second album, “Your Masterpiece,” debuted in June 2010 and the group was again recognized on both charts, spending the second week of June at #5 on the gospel charts and now holding the spot at #19 on the Christian music charts.
Though topping the charts is certainly not the aim of group members Phil Thompson, April Thompson, Deborah Bullock and her husband Wilbur Bullock — all of whom are proud members of the beloved Thompson family of Mattapan’s Jubilee Christian Church — it was getting on the charts that proved that their music was being heard.
With musical influences ranging from Amy Grant to Kirk Franklin, Ashmont Hill has become the signature group and sound of the Boston-based Axiom Records, an in-house recording label owned by Jubilee Christian Church. While preparing for their upcoming performance where they will open for headliner and RandB vocalist Regina Belle, siblings April and Phil Thompson spoke to the Banner about their influences and plans for the coming year.
What is the significance of Ashmont Hill to the group?
April: It’s a neighborhood that we grew up in. We grew up on Rosalind Street in that area and since we’re a family group we wanted to come up with a name that would link us all together.
How important was Christian music to the household that you grew up in?
April: That was the only music that we were allowed to listen to. We weren’t allowed to listen to any other types of music, so we grew up loving so many different gospel artists, like Commissioned, The Winans, BeBe and CeCe Winans, just to name a few. Our parents let us know what we were supposed to listen to and that was what we listened to.
Is it the same today?
Phil: I listen to Coldplay and there are a couple of secular bands that I listen to that I really like, but my favorite music is gospel and Christian music because of the heart in it.
Your sound is definitely original and that you have a full band gives you major credibility. Who composes the music? Who writes the lyrics?
Phil: I compose and write the lyrics for most of the songs. April is a writer as well, but I’m the primary writer and composer.
Are you specially trained in music or a music form?
Phil: No. I was a physical education teacher for eight years and I was always into music. I didn’t know what the gifts were that I had until I began to focus on them.
April: Seven years ago, our oldest sister preached this message about returning to what your childhood dreams were. She challenged Phil to write a song and he wrote this song called “Your Right Hand” which became the last song on our first album. We were blown away by it. Phil is like the Stevie Wonder of gospel.