Most 22 year-olds would find themselves intimidated by the machine that runs Nashville’s country music industry, but not Kansas-native Ashley Ray, who wrote and arranged her first original song at age 13 and never looked back.
“My mom says when I was about five I told her that I was going to be a priest and a part time veterinarian, but that lasted about five minutes. Music has always been such a huge part of my life that I couldn't escape from it even if I wanted to. I set my mind a long time ago to achieving this, and that's where it's been ever since.
The chestnut-haired singer/songwriter left Lawrence, KS, after high school to pursue her musical dreams and hone her songwriting skills in the Music City. Just four years later, she has landed a songwriting deal with Sony ATV Tree, earned a BBA from music school heavyweight Belmont University, and built a loyal following for her cool brand of country music.
But it is to her Midwestern roots and solid family values that Ashley credits a great deal of her work ethic and determination.
“My mom has worked for United Parcel Service (UPS) for over 20 years. She's done everything from working the counter to driving those big ‘ol brown trucks. She's about 5'5 and 115 lbs soak n' wet, yet she's the strongest woman that I'll ever know. My Dad worked most of his life as a construction worker. He built everything he had from the ground up - from houses and car engines, to what he wanted most in life, a beautiful and very loving family.”
With mental strength and focused ambition, Ashley continues to win fans over with her yearning voice and heartfelt lyrics. Whether rockin’ out with her band to a rowdy, beer-soaked crowd, or sitting in pin-drop silence at a writers’ round with just her acoustic guitar and captivating voice, Ashley’s performance assaults the senses while her lyrics serenade the soul.
Performing live has become second nature to Ashley, having shared the stage with some of country music’s hottest stars including Dierks Bentley, Miranda Lambert, and Cross Canadian Ragweed to name a few. “Performing live is the real deal. You've got the band, the crowd, your best songs – it’s the reason why we do what we do.”
While nothing gets her blood pumping like playing for a live crowd of “crazy people, beer drinkers, partiers who love country music and love to have a good time,” she also needs alone time to think, reflect and focus on songwriting. The self-proclaimed
perfectionist is constantly on the look out for inspiration and always striving for accomplishment. “If I'm inspired while I'm writing, chances are that others will be inspired when they hear it. I don't care if it’s a love song, a getting over love song, or a making love song…if it makes me and/or anyone else feel something then it was worth writing. Hit or no hit.”
While her resume already reads thick with some of country music’s biggest names, that doesn’t stop her for reaching for the stars. “In my wildest dreams I would write one with Kasey Chambers, jam with the Dixie Chicks, sing one with Kelly Willis, drink one with Bob Seger, and roll one with Willie”, says Ashley.
From a grade school dreamer with nothing but a pawn shop guitar, to a focused young woman on the verge of stardom, Ashley Ray just wants to be remembered for making REAL music.
“In a perfect world I want my style of real country music to be heard everywhere…all around the world.”
At this rate, it will be.
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