In the past few years, Ashley McBryde has broken out as one of country music’s top rising stars. With multiple Top 30 songs, award nominations and wins and other accolades to her name, this “Girl Goin’ Nowhere” has certainly cemented her spot in country music. As McBryde continues to make her trip to the top, here’s a deeper look into who she is with 10 things you may not know about her.
- She broke her father’s rules to write her one of her first breakout songs.
One of the first tunes that earned widespread attention for McBryde was her honest “Bible and a .44,” which she released in 2016 on her Jalopies & Expensive Guitars EP. The tune was inspired by her upbringing in Saddle, Arkansas, and specifically, how her father always had a gun and a bible handy. “He was a preacher when I was growing up, and I don’t ever remember not seeing a gun or a Bible,” she shared with Billboard. “He raised us that way — as mean as that sounds, and as sweet as that sounds, too.” McBryde’s father also had a prized Martin guitar that she was barred from playing until he passed away. However, once when her father wasn’t looking, she played that special guitar and “Bible and a .44” came pouring out.
“I was at his house on his 70th birthday, and he wasn’t home, and I knew where the guitar was,” she adds. “So, I pulled it out of the closet, and got it out of the case, and started writing ‘A Bible And A .44.’”
2. She grew up in a very small town.
Speaking of her upbringing, the town in which McBryde grew up was incredibly small. Saddle, Arkansas is an unincorporated community in Fulton County in the Ozarks. According to McBryde, the town didn’t have cable television or satellite, and they didn’t have internet there until she was “well within her teens.” Due to this, McBryde spent most of her time listening to the radio, and that is where her love for music was born.
3. She has a wide range of musical influences.
McBryde’s music is undeniably country, and one of her early influences was Kris Kristofferson, as her father listened to him during her childhood. However, her music has roots in other genres as well. Her mother often listened to The Carpenters, and she enjoyed bluegrass music. McBryde also has a love for musical theater and jazz music, and she participated in Jazz band during her time at Arkansas State University.
4. She succeeded despite a teacher’s discouragement.
McBryde began dreaming of a career as a country singer when she was young, and especially after she wrote her first song at age 12. By the time she was in high school, she was convinced that she wanted to pursue music as a career, and the unfortunate discouragement from a teacher only fueled her desire for success.
“We were in Algebra class – and I try not to say [the teacher’s] name, because I wouldn’t want her to gain any fame off the song – and we were going around the room, and she asked each of us what we were going to do with lives,” she shared with Billboard. “My answer was that I was going to move to Nashville and write songs. I was going to be on the radio, whether I was singing them or somebody else was. In front of the whole class, she looked at me and said ‘That’s stupid. That won’t happen. You need to remember where you’re from, and have a good backup plan.’”
5. She studied French horn in college.
After high school, McBryde didn’t immediately move to Nashville to pursue her country music career, but she did stay in music, deciding to study French horn in college. While at Arkansas State University, however, she began traveling to Memphis to regularly perform country music at bars and clubs. She soon realized that she needed to move to Nashville to try a real hand at pursuing her career, and after her French horn teacher suggested she “just drop out of school and go,” she decided to pull the trigger. She dropped out “that day.”
6. She joined a band upon arriving in Nashville.
When McBryde moved to Nashville, she jumped into the music world by joining a band named Deadhorse. According to the Tennessean, the name signified that fact that the band often played cover songs that were “beaten to death.” Although McBryde has now paved her path as a solo artist, her backing band is still called Deadhorse, and she even has merchandise for the band for sale on her website.
7. She released multiple independent projects before making it big.
Many artists who are working up the ranks in country music must release their own independent projects before finding success with a label, and McBryde did just that before releasing her major-label debut record. Her first self-titled demo album was released in 2006, and in 2011, she released her second album, Elsebound. Five years later in 2016, McBryde released Jalopies & Expensive Guitars, the EP that would propel her into country music fame.
8. She was discovered by one of country music’s biggest stars.
McBryde’s 2016 EP featured “Bible and a .44” and other tunes, and after its release, it caught the attention of country superstar Eric Church. Church soon invited McBryde to sing “Bible and a .44” on his Holdin’ My Own Tour, and it was after that appearance that McBryde’s career took off in mainstream country music. The video of her performance on Church’s tour went viral, and she was later signed to a management deal by Q Publishing. Her music eventually made its way to Warner Music Nashville, and she was signed by the label in 2017. Her debut album on the label, Girl Going Nowhere, was released in 2018.
9. Her father wasn’t thrilled about her music career.
Although McBryde’s father has provided much of the inspiration for her music, she has shared that he doesn’t fully agree with her pursuing music as a career. When speaking about “Bible and a .44,” McBryde said “it’s about my father, who does not approve of any of his children making a living in any kind of entertainment industry. It’s unacceptable for anyone to make their living in the entertainment business.” She also shared that her father is “old school” and doesn’t necessarily care about what happens in the music industry.
10. Her tattoos have deep meaning.
In addition to being known for her music, McBryde is also known for her tattoos. The star says she has more tattoos that she can count and most of them have a deep meaning to her. Her tattoo of aviator glasses and a lipstick tube signifies her tune, “American Scandal.” Other tattoos represent things like her truck and her dad’s corvette. One of her most noticeable tattoos is the eagle on her chest, and she says that tattoo represents the 11 years she has spent pursuing her dream in country music.
“My tattoos are mile markers and here I am with a record deal, about to be in this weird spot where I have to dress up for things, which I’m no good at,” she shared with Belles and Gals. “So I went to Nancy [Miller] (Ashley’s tattoo artist) and said, ‘After all these milestones this past year have I earned anything that deserves to be on my chest?’ … She said, ‘I think after eleven years of fighting it out against the odds you’ve earned an eagle.'”