Spotlight on Asher Monroe
Spotlight on Asher Monroe

Asher Monroe arrives with single 'Here With You' ahead of debut album.

Asher Monroe has been in the entertainment business ever since he booked a gig on the national tour of "Beauty and the Beast" when he was 7 years old. But it's only now, more than 15 years later, that he's gearing up to release his first album.

As the flagship artist signed to entrepreneur Diana Jenkins' music company D Empire, Monroe has worked with Sean Kingston, OneRepublic's Ryan Tedder and the Matrix on his as-yet-untitled upcoming debut, due sometime next year.

Recently, Monroe has been in the studio with Chris Brown, who will be co-writing a few songs on the album, he says.

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"I definitely think we're in for not just one song," Monroe says. "I have a lot of tracks that I've already produced, but if he wants to do more, I'm not going to say 'no.'"

Drawing inspiration from Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Queen and Elton John, Monroe and his team have been working for two years to craft a selection of pop-driven tracks that will both showcase his voice and stick in listeners' heads.

"All of my songs are very melodic, very fun and catchy," Monroe says. "I always want people leaving my songs remembering the hook."

Monroe has already recorded more than a dozen songs, says co-producer/co-writer Alon Levitan, who also works under D Empire to co-manage the 24-year-old singer. However, because those songs were recorded before Brown was attached to the project, most will probably not make it onto the upcoming album.

"The previous material that we recorded was very exploratory to kind of help him develop his sound," Levitan says.

Levitan says that Monroe's newest single, "Here With You," has already started gaining traction at radio since Monroe has traveled the East Coast and into Memphis, promoting the single at radio stations and meeting with PDs. The song paired him with songwriter/producer and OneRepublic vocalist Tedder, who also penned a second track, "Eyes on You," for Monroe's album. "Asher is a triple threat," Tedder says. "He's got the voice, the look and the charisma. Loads of what Simon Cowell calls 'the X factor.'"

When the pair began recording at Tedder's studio, Monroe knew that he wanted to create "a big song." And that's how "Here With You"-produced by Tedder and Noel Zancanella, mixed by Serban Ghenea and written by Monroe, Levitan, Tedder and Zancanella-was made.

"I wanted an anthem-feeling, fun-vibe song that people could blast in their cars and put their hands up to," Monroe says with a laugh.

While D Empire is hoping to have Monroe's album out early next year, there are still a few moving parts that could affect the release date, Levitan explains. Before a date is chosen, Monroe's team is waiting to see how "Here With You" does at radio. "If things go our way," Levitan says, "we hope that the song can really rise after the holidays."

They also haven't decided on a distributor for the record, although Monroe has been working with Def Jam senior VP of A&R Bu Thiam.

"We've kind of sparked a relationship there, which we're really excited about," Levitan says, discussing D Empire's plans for the debut. "But there's always releasing the album ourselves, which was our initial plan." Through his relationship with D Empire, Monroe is also closely connected with Jenkins' other endeavors, including her line of Neuro beverages, Levitan says. The Neuro brand has already been tied to Monroe's name through product placement, and the beverages can be seen in his videos and promotional images. Neuro was also involved in Monroe's most recent tour, which he co-headlined with several other acts in 20 cities this past spring.

Although he's yet to release an album, Monroe has already established a solid fan base, with 147,000 Facebook fans, 67,000 Twitter followers and more than 7 million views on YouTube.

"I'm heavily engrossed in my social media. I feel like it's so important nowadays to connect directly with the fans," Monroe says, stressing the value of maintaining his own online accounts. "Maybe that's why I've had some of my fans stick around."

Those fans followed Monroe from his previous endeavors, most notably his starring role in the 2009 remake of "Fame" and his gig as the lead vocalist for pop/R&B group V Factory. "I'm not new to this business," Monroe says. "I just want people to know that I've been around."

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