Ashley Stevenson, known as Slim Freedom, Blue Line performer, or simply “Slim”, is an American singer slash songwriter from Chicago IL USA. She started out busking in the subway, where she would perform on almost a daily basis.
In 2016, a passer-by recorded her cover of Fleetwood Mac's landslide and posted it online where it went viral, achieving over 32 million views to date. Stevenson was unaware she was being recorded at the time, but would soon be grateful for the exposure, as she would start being offered gigs. These gigs included the news on Chicago channel 9, which she had watched regularly since childhood. In 2017, she performed at Ted X Chicago, which is famed for showcasing raw, unrecognized talent and delivering it to a worldwide audience.
She is praised for her powerful, raspy vocals with which she uses to perform covers as well as her own original songs, accompanied by enthusiastic strumming on her acoustic guitar, which she has been playing since she was just 11 years of age.
Her father was also a musician traveling around playing music, he was on the road a lot, she is mostly self-taught. She performs her covers in several different musical genres which she puts down to her eclectic music taste growing up.
She told the hype magazine in 2019: “When I was younger, I listened to a lot of alternative… but before that, I actually grew up on a lot of Christian music, Michael W. Smith was a pretty big inspiration. Even Whitney Houston. I sang a couple of her songs for a talent show. Just songs like that.” She also lists Aerosmith, Green Day, and little Wayne among her favorite artists, among others. However, she credits her mother as her biggest inspiration. “She was very vocal…as I look back, I'm like wow that helped me develop.”
Stevenson does not go into the subway with a set list of songs, she just performs what she is feeling in the moment. “Sometimes I'm intertwining songs. I'll be in the middle of a song and another song will pop into my head and I'll just intertwine it with that one…Mostly, I like going off my own vibe because I feel like you never know when someone needs to hear a certain song.”
Critics have remarked that Stevenson’s covers are better than the original, and she takes a different approach to how she plays each time. Every time I'm doing a song, it's different…it's very hard for me to do something twice the same way. Ultimately, it was a feeling versus what I heard.”
Despite the success of the first viral performance, Ashley Stevenson remains humble. “I remember when I finally put myself out there more, even if I wasn't doing it for myself I'll do it for the people that actually are trying to listen to my music. That means more to me than not trying to put myself out there as much. So, I was happy when I got 90 views 100 views so for that to reach 23 million that is really something to me.”