"This is an event of giant proportions," said Ashby, founder of New York-based Prosody Creative Services. "It was something that I was honored to work on."
Prosody won the contract and has been working with Jamestown 2007 since the summer of 2003. Prosody is in the process of finalizing a new contract with Jamestown 2007, a sub-agency of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation.
Ashby got into the production business after playing with a rock band in the late 1970s called "Arizona" that recorded an album with RCA. Ashby did a couple stints producing the Up With People international music tour group, including Super Bowl halftime shows in 1980 and 1982.
When he started his own firm, Ashby wanted to produce events that involved what he calls "communitainment." That means writing songs and doing promotions that get across an important idea in an interesting way that cuts through the clutter of the media and entertainment world.
After his days as a performer, Ashby learned that he enjoys the creative side of writing music more than being on stage.
"I like putting it together and hiring someone else to do it," said Ashby. "I like starting with a blank page and making that into something."
Ashby took on the title of executive producer of Jamestown 2007 after Cone's departure last fall. With six full-time employees in New York, Prosody plans to hire about 10 more to work in Williamsburg as Jamestown 2007 preparations heat up. The company also uses contractors to work on these temporary projects.
"In the event business, it's more cost-effective to work with independent contractors," said Ashby. "We have a lot of independent writers and musicians."
Out of the 11 major Jamestown 2007 promotional events, five are considered the most important: the Godspeed Sail, the Yorktown 225th Anniversary, the National Teach-In, America's Anniversary Weekend and the Democracy Forum. Prosody will produce all of them except the forum.
The anniversary weekend will feature the biggest and most elaborate productions. It might include visits by Queen Elizabeth and President Bush. In open space near the Jamestown sites, Anniversary Park will have 30,000 to 40,000 seats and a 60,000-square-foot stage.
The three-day event will include at least six live performance stages at the Jamestown Settlement, Historic Jamestown and Anniversary Park. Prosody is also hoping to line up some nationally-known entertainers to do some type of benefit concert.
Ashby is anticipating some type of national broadcast on one of the major networks during the main Sunday events. Ideally, it would be a two-hour program somewhere along the lines of a Dick Clark New Year's show or the PBS 4th of July show.
Prosody also wants to create original productions such as a "Meet the Presidents" show with actors portraying major U.S. presidents and talking to an audience about history.
A children's program will tell the story of the founding of Jamestown through animals.
Ashby is putting together Anniversary Voices, a group of about 15 young musicians who will perform songs arranged by songwriters with top-40 hits on their resumes. This group will also perform at each stop at the major ports during the East Coast Godspeed sail in 2006.
About eight or nine songs will be chosen from 15 that have already been written, said Ashby. Prosody will hold auditions this fall for the Anniversary Voices singers, who preferably will be college-age to about 25 years old. *
About the company
TYPE OF BUSINESS
Producing and promoting events that want to communicate a specific message.
Ashby started Prosody's predecessor company in California in 1986. Then Ashby briefly went back to his former position as a producer for Up With People in Colorado before re-starting his firm as Prosody there in 2000.
Vision. Act quickly when vision produces immediate ideas, but also have a long-term plan.
Offices in New York and at 412 W. Francis Street in Williamsburg.