Since graduating from high school in her now-home of Georgia, she has embarked on a professional music career and hasn’t looked back. The singer recorded a four-song EP in June 2010, and is already receiving praise from other professionals — she was awarded Most Promising Female Vocalist of the Year, and Entertainer of the Year both in 2010 and 2011 from the Georgia Country and Gospel Music Association. Before her show tonight at Pelham’s in Jacksonville, she talks about what’s on her bucket list, how she holds her own in a room full of men, and what she admits being a “pansy” about.
You grew up doing musical theater — do you think a run on Broadway could be in your future?
Yes! I absolutely love doing musical theater — being on Broadway is already on my bucket list! I started doing musical theater and entering competitions in kindergarten. If I had to guess around how many productions it’s been from then to now, I would guess a little over 100. All through school, I always knew music was what I wanted to do for the rest of my life without a doubt. So, after I graduated, I decided to make a demo to take the first step on being an actual professional. Being in a studio was so exciting. I felt very at home and thought to myself “I could definitely get used to this.”
How did you break in to recording professionally?
Dave Moody from the ’90s country band “The Moody Brothers” contacted me through one of my father’s clients at his gym. I was stunned when he’d said that he was very impressed with my demo and he wanted me to come sing for him at his record label, Lamon Records, in Nashville! Shortly after, I was signed on with him to record an EP album. Everything happened so fast after recording the demo. It kind of felt like I clicked the heels of my cowgirl boots and was there! It took about nine months to wrap the whole thing up. It’s on iTunes and Amazon, and got me a lot of exposure. That’s when I got my feet wet in the music biz.
You’ve already received a few accolades at this early stage of your career. What goals are on your list to mark off next?
Shortly after I finished my EP, I joined the Georgia Country and Gospel Music Association. To my disbelief, I won Most Promising Female Vocalist of the year, and Entertainer of the Year in 2010 and 2011. I felt so honored and blessed. It just feels like affirmation that I need to keep on moving forward and to not give up no matter how impossible this dream of mine seems. My next step is to record a full album that is written by me. I’ve been writing and performing non-stop! The sky is the limit. Maybe I’ll be the winner of 2013 Entertainer of the Year at the CMT awards. Now that’d be AMAZING!
You also have another group you perform with, “Ashlie Rae and her Southern Boys,” started in November 2011. In a group of four guys to one girl, how do you hold your own?
I may be short, but I definitely hold my own! I love the boys. Of course, we mess around here and there, but we work very well together. It just seems to work effortlessly. [The group] was thrown together pretty quickly. We just tried having a rehearsal together — 25 minutes later, when we’d already completed 3 songs, we decided that it’d be a great idea to collaborate.
If you weren’t singing, what would you be doing?
I honestly can’t imagine myself doing anything else! I’ve always been fascinated with sea life, so I would say marine biology, but I’m a big pansy! I could never go that far out and deep into the ocean. Maybe I’d make a good news anchor!
What’s your favorite part about performing on stage?
The adrenaline. The way you can pull an audience in. It’s so exhilarating! It never gets old. I always warm up my voice and plan out the night to an extent, but at the same time I like for it to be a spontaneous experience.
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