Coming from a musical family, it appeared to be a fait accompli that Ashle Worrick would herself become a musician or singer.
But that’s not how things turned out–initially.
Global Girl: Ashle Worrick
The current “Global Girl” member of a duo (with Grace Yoo) backing up rock legend Todd Rundgren on his “White Knight” tour didn’t even let family members know she could sing, much less attempted to sing, until she was 26.
Now 32, and on her second tour with Rundgren in as many years, there’s little doubting her vocal ability.
“My father was a jazz drummer, but my grandmother was a dancer, so that’s what I latched on to starting when I was a little girl.” Worrick says, from a phone interview on the tour. “I trained professionally as a dancer but it came to me naturally and I continued doing it as I was growing up.”
No one else knew that Ashle sang either, she says. “Dancing was so natural to me but singing was a different thing entirely,” she confesses. “Not even my closest friends knew I sang. The few times I would try I would become absolutely petrified and couldn’t go on.”
When word came out in professional circles on Backstage.com that Todd Rundgren was looking for female singers/dancers in early 2015 to back him up on his upcoming “Global” tour, some friends in the business told her she should take a shot at trying out.
“I knew Todd Rundgren’s reputation and a little bit about who he was but was not completely familiar with all of his work,” Worrick says. “I did know, however, that he was a legend and that this would be a big deal. So when I actually first sang in front of one of the professionals at Backstage.com he remarked to me, “Hey, you’re really good” and he obviously would know, right? So that instilled the confidence in me that I needed to sing in public.”
By this time, the New Jersey-native had left her Atlantic City home and moved to Las Vegas going through, what she says, was a “low point in her life.” Fortunately, however, some friends in the business reached out to her upon her about the Rundgren gig and encouraged her to take a shot.
Todd and Ashle
“It’s ironic, too, that I knew Todd was starting his tour in Japan,” Worrick relates, “because in my journal, which I regularly write in, I had noted at some point that one day I would go to and perform in Japan. Which, of course, I ended up doing. It never would have happened without my friend’s encouragement and without my just simply getting up the courage to audition. I had written in my journal that I wanted to travel the world and make money as a singer and dancer and that’s exactly what ended up happening,” she says proudly.
Rundgren’s wife Michele, herself an excellent and experience singer and dancer, was in charge of accepting demo tapes for the “Global” auditions, Worrick says.
“She specifically had us sing and then dance to some Beyonce music,” Worrick recalls. “I was currently on the road with ‘The Price Is Right’ live, my gig at the time, while emailing back and forth with Michele. Honestly, though,” she admits, “I almost got too scared and didn’t send in my demo. But, thankfully, I did–and a week later I got an email from Michele saying ‘Congratulations” and that was it. I was on board and going on the tour with Todd.”
Apparently, Todd himself had little to do with the auditioning process, leaving that to his wife. When Ashle first met him she found the rock legend, as many others have, to be a down to earth, but a by-the-book, business-first person to work for and with.
“It was intimidating at the beginning,” Worrick admits, “but I kept my mouth shut, learned the material and did the best I could. That’s what Todd probably wanted,” she says. “The rehearsals were tough for ‘Global’ and, here recently, also for ‘White Knight’: we only had about four or five days to learn the material and get it right and it was tough. But, ultimately, that type of deadline was very, very worth it and so incredibly rewarding. It was very intense, though, I assure you.
Still,” she continues, “I think that kind of deadline and working with the kind of artist Todd is did so much for me personally, professionally and emotionally. The accomplishments gave me a sense of pride that I had never really had,” Worrick confides. “I wouldn’t trade what I went through for anything.”
While the initial outing with Rundgren, the 2015 “Global” tour, consisted only of Ashle and Grace Yoo as “The Global Girls” singing and dancing and a back-up DJ, the newly launched “White Knight” tour has the ladies singing with Todd’s band, including longtime back-up and Utopia member Kasim Sulton, guitarist Jesse Gress, drummer Prairie Prince (Tubes, Jefferson Starship) and longtime Cars keyboardist Greg Hawkes. How different is it to work with a full band now?
“I’m in heaven!” Worrick laughs. “Truly. We really didn’t know what to expect. But, after researching Todd even more, I saw the great work he had done in the 70s and 80s with Utopia and other bands and knew this would be totally exciting and great. And so far, it has been. While I loved the club aspect of “Global,” I grew up around musicians so it’s wonderful now to be on stage with these guys. They are awesome to play and sing with. Plus, they are really sweethearts!”
Is the new material from “White Knight” and other band-oriented songs more difficult to perform than the “Global” set?
“Yes, it is,” Worrick says. “We’re not dancing as much, obviously, so Grace and I are having to concentrate more on the vocals and also singing along with Todd and the guys in the band. The harmonies are definitely more intricate.”
Worrick also has her own band back in Vegas, Misty Day, that was starting to make a name for themselves about the time she got the new call for “White Knight.” She says that, initially, she felt somewhat guilty leaving her band mates behind–and the momentum they were gaing–to go back on the road with Rundgren.
“But of course they encouraged me to go and I’ll return to them,” she says. “They are extremely talented and great musicians–not just a cover band with a bunch of pretty faces. Some of our band members are even classically-trained. But they were super supportive of my going back out with Todd.”
When asked her favorite song to perform on the new tour, Worrick didn’t hesitate: “’Love Science’ without a doubt (from the 1990 “Second Wind” Todd Rundgren album). I also am getting into the harder rock songs. ‘Buy My T’ is also fun to do because it is a tribute to Prince and I like the funky sound of it.”
Worrick will also be going out with Todd and the band on the Yes tour this summer, along with Carl Palmer’s Emerson, Lake and Palmer tribute group, more than likely playing in front of huge audiences. “It will be an honor for me to perform on the same bill with these rock legends,” she says. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
What will Ashle Worrick look back on as her greatest accomplishments in ten years?
“All of this, I think,” she responds after a slight pause. “Watching Todd, learning from these incredible musicians; I still have to stop and wonder sometimes how in the heck did all of this happen? It’s truly amazing. And it all stemmed from that email my friend sent to me. It was a Godsend, honestly.”
When asked about the adulation Todd receives from so many loyal fans, Worrick says she’s actually used to it.
“My mother, Jackie, has long been a Chicago fan and knew the guys in the band,” she says, “so growing up I saw how fans react and stay loyal for so long. So I’m not really surprised at Todd’s fan base at all. They’re all wonderful people and have been extremely nice to me.”
As a final point, the grueling grind of touring came up. Riding on a bus, town to town, cross country. Isn’t it overly demanding?
“Not for me!” Worrick enthuses. “I love it. Maybe for the older guys who have been doing this type of thing much longer than I have it but I really enjoy the travel. The bus is really cool in my opinion. I guess I’m still in that beginner phase,” she chuckles.
Beginner phase or not, while Ashle Worrick is now backing up Todd Rundgren, there’s little doubt she will be making her own name very soon–and will develop her own following.
Jack Criss is the Publisher and Executive Editor of BAMSouth.com and owner of Criss Public Relations. He is a 30 year veteran of the business publishing industry as well as a former talk radio host, lecturer and author of "Ready, Aim, Right!" (Quail Ridge Press, 2004) and the forthcoming "The Great Greek Philosopher: Aristotle For Young People" (DagKat Press, 2017) as well as a work of teen fiction, "Book Island" and the non-fiction title "SuperfloUS: When Mediocrity Is Enshrined And Civility Fades." He was born, raised and currently lives in Jackson, MS and is the proud father of Katie and Dagny.