ARTISTRY SPOTLIGHT: Ashley "Epiphany" Hodges
Ashley Hodges, known poetically as “Epiphany”, brings moments of clarity to audiences as both a poet and event host. Her stage name derived from her ability to impact audiences with captivating performances and poems that embody a message of faith, hope, restoration, encouragement and freedom.
Growing up in Washington, DC, Epiphany struggled emotionally with identity, social acceptance among her peers, and embracing her individuality. Writing poetry and signing songs were two coping mechanisms Epiphany used growing up to help heal her emotions. As she began to share her poetry and songs she found that many people could identify with the content of her creative works and later began to embrace life as a full time spoken word poet.
She has performed on countless platforms, to include: the National Mall, the Kennedy Center, Bus Boys and Poets and the Lincoln Theater; just to name a few. She currently serves as the event host for The Speak Life Tour (see more) a tour that works with youth in underprivileged communities, provides them with a platform and takes them into other communities of youth so that they can share their art and network.
Epiphany sees poetry as a vehicle to inspire, uplift, and motivate others. Epiphany is also a single mother and when she's not performing she is serving her local community by conducting workshops that teach youth and young adults how to use the arts to heal emotions. These programs serve as nurturing environments that assist youth in realizing that their current situation is not their final destination.
She is the CEO of Epiphany's Words LLC, a company devoted to using words to ignite the power in people. The academies, workshops and personal sessions are created to teach people a sense of confidence and fully prepare them to be confident public speakers or performers.
TMP: If you could describe yourself in three words, what three words would they be?
E: Whew! Lol! I would say I am tenacious, beautiful, and strong willed.
TMP: You do it all; poetry, music, hosting, motivational speaking, if you could sum your artistry all into one title, what would that title be?
E: If I could sum my artistry up into one word, that word would be effective.
TMP: How did you get into the world of Spoken Word?
E: I have been writing since I was eight years old and when I got to college I attended the interest meeting for the black ink monks which was the poetry group on campus. I shared a poem for the first time in front of people there and the president of the organization pulled me to the side. She told me that I experienced a level of freedom with my writings but I had to share them because when I share what I write, I allow other people who feel like they can’t put their situations into words to experience a level of freedom that encourages them.
TMP: When did you begin music?
E: I have always loved music. I would sing here and there but recently I met a group of people that have pushed me to really go further with my musical talents. So for the past year I have been rapping on tracks, writing songs for local artists in the area, sing hooks on rappers songs, producing albums, and doing impromptu singing sessions with guitar players that I meet.
TMP: If you could put all your talents in order, which would be in first place?
E: First would be spoken word, second would be writing, third would be public speaking and last would be music.
TMP: What is strength in your definition?
E: My definition of strength is being able to admit harsh truths to yourself about yourself and still being able to see the beauty that you still possess.
TMP: I heard your story and the obstacles you have had to face on your journey to triumph, how have you managed to keep going?
E: Yikes! Lol!......The only way I’ve been able to hold on is to remember that my faith is in God. If he led me to it, He will bring me through it. I also have this perspective on my struggle: if there were never any tangible things associated with what I wanted to do would I still want to do it? My answer is yes, because as long as I have purpose then what I produce will be effective and long-lasting.
TMP: What advice do you give the little girl who wants to follow in your footsteps, but may not be able to sustain the trials?
E: I would say that we all go through things but if what you’re going through is going to shape you into a better person for where you want to be in life then quitting is not an option. Hold tight to your beliefs no matter who or what comes and no matter who or what goes.
TMP: How did you get involved with Speak Life Tour?
E: It’s funny, I actually did not meet the age requirements when I was filling out the application but the director (Catherine Trotter) encouraged me to still apply. I went to the audition and was as nervous as ever. Then it was a voting process where people who supported what I do could log into this site and place their votes for me and the artist with the most votes would advance to the next round. Needless to say, I received the call back that I would be on the tour and I was ecstatic. I was ecstatic because poetry is something that I love more than I have ever loved anything or anyone. Being able to share my poetry has been such an encouragement to me and to those who have experienced my poetry. This tour has taught be so much about being strong, recognizing my strength, and it has allowed me to have the freedom to grow in my artistry.
TMP: How did you get the name Epiphany?
E: I was given the name Epiphany by a member of the black ink monks. It is our custom as poets, once we have been accepted into the poetry group, to be given a stage name by our fellow members. The funny thing about the naming process is that you don’t have a say in what your name will be. When my poetry brother gave me that name, it was a unanimous vote. Lol! Recognizing where I am today, I now see why.
TMP: What is next for you?
E: I am currently working on an album of originally written songs and poems that will be released in 2017.
TMP: How can people connect with you?
E: I think I’m a pretty cool person, I love for people to talk with me after shows. It’s always refreshing to meet new people. Lol. If they haven’t been to a show, they can definitely email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
TMP: Are you social? FB? Twitter? IG?
E: I am everywhere on social media and my handle is @epiphanyswords for every social media site