Ashley Campbell recalls that a few years ago, she and some friends were watching a movie on television when her father, Glen, walked in and asked what they were watching. Just a few minutes later, he came into the room – and asked again. She said she didn’t really think anything about it at the time, but looking back, she feels that could have been an early sign of Alzheimer’s Disease.
“You can’t say if ‘I caught it early or anything like that,’” she tells Sounds Like Nashville, though she says there is a regret that she has. “I think what I could have done was maybe have been more in tune with what Alzheimer’s is, and what the symptoms are, I would have been able to paid a lot more attention and spent a lot more quality time with him. But, when you’re younger, you just don’t think about that kind of stuff,” she admitted with a twinge of sadness.
Campbell was in town last week to speak on caregiving for Alzheimer’s patients before a meeting of the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America in collaboration with Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee & Senior Helpers Nashville at the Franklin Theatre. She says that speaking at such events is something that she views as a way of coping with not just what her family is going through – but other families as well.
“I come away with a sense of community – and family with these people that I have never met before. We’ve all gone through the same thing, and it’s a very personal thing that we are going through. It unites us all. Even though every one of us is different, so much of it is the same – and it changes you. We’ve all been changed in very similar ways.”
Since his diagnosis, the Campbell family has been very up front concerning their struggle. When asked about the media coverage of the story – particularly on social media sites that advertise “Shocking” or “Tragic” news updates about her father, she simply says it’s a part of it. “The media always tries to make things bigger than it is, and always tries to start drama, but it’s just our lives. There’s just nothing you can really do about it.”
Among her comments to the capacity crowd at Franklin were to keep relationships with those affected with the disease strong for the entire family. “Every minute with your loved one is precious, because every minute keeps getting smaller.”
Campbell released “Remembering,” her debut single for Dot Records last year, and has been making the radio rounds to promote the song since its’ release. She also has spent some time on a very hallowed stage. “I made my Opry debut at the Ryman back in November. Everyone there has been so nice, and has treated me as a family member. That’s exactly how I feel when I go to the Opry. It’s all smiles, and everyone is so kind. It definitely feels like home to me.”
As far as future recording plans go, Campbell hopes to go into the studio soon to record some new material. She promises a sound that will be “organic and rootsy,” but also with some edgy elements. One thing is for sure, however. There will be a little bit of the five-string included on the disc.
“There will be some banjo,” she said with a smile. “I’ve been playing since 2008. I had always wanted to play it, and I got into a play at my college, and they needed someone to play the banjo. They said ‘Hey, Ashley, why don’t you do it because you’re so good at music?’ I just fell in love with it. The banjo is special to me because of the history of the instrument. Playing it makes me feel like I’m connected to my American roots. It’s cool to connect with history that way.”