Alison Carney is a testament to the great talent that can be found in the DC music community, with an expansive performance history rivaling the touring experience of veteran musicians. The songstress has toured in the U.S. and Asia, as well as shared the stage with performers such as Talib Kweli, A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock, Ma Yancey, Sy Smith, Kokayi, Yahzarah, Wayna, Choklate, V.Rch and J. Hayden. She’s also performed regularly in the DC Loves Dilla tribute concert and the now unfortunately defunct Can a Sister Rock a Mic? (CASRAM) Festival.
Carney grew up in both DC and New York City, splitting time between cities and parents. She may consider herself an honorary New Yorker, but her training and her artistic lineage come from the District. She studied at the National Cathedral School, and was influenced by a close family friend during her formative years – Duke Ellington School of the Arts Founder Peggy Cooper Cafritz Carney. It was around that time that Carney plunged herself into her passion for the arts.
“My mother got me involved in so many art-related programs when I was growing up, because all I wanted to do was make art,” she says.
As she developed as a singer, she took cues from the local community to develop her serious musical chops. She cites go-go musicians as among the most well-rehearsed and professional in the country, and credits DMV artists and producers like [Jesse] Tittsworth and T. Fox as gurus in her artistic development.
Carney is currently working on a highly-anticipated EP, especially timely since it’s been five years since her last formal studio project, 2011’s Alison Wonderland. But as part of the development she’s undergoing as an artist, she’s changing everything from her sound to her name. To that end, she wanted to take the time to, “Reintroduce myself [as] Ace Ono.”
“My [new] project is called I Bet You Think This Song Is About You. I’ve been working on it way too long, revamping it way too many times, but now I know what I want and I’m making it happen. I can’t wait to share it with the world.”
We could use more female artists sharing their work like this in DC, which still tends to be a male-dominated environment even in the diverse fields of jazz and indie/punk rock. However, Carney thinks that area music fans could also be doing more to support the fabulous ladies making music locally. Fans, and even people just interested in what’s going on in their hometown, need to put their ears to the ground and listen.
“I think there are so many amazing female artists influencing this music thing, from-hip hop to alternative to [whatever] – Pinky, Reesa, Kacey, Marlee, Kelow. We have women influencing every genre in DC. People just really have to make the effort to pay attention.”
To learn more about Alison Carney, follow her on Twitter: @iamalisoncarney.
Photo: Photography by Jeremy Mines, www.JeremyMines.com | Courtesy of Art Lives Here