Interviews

Ashley McBryde on Playing Biker Bars, Embracing 'Weirdness' and Supporting Independent Artists [Interview]

In this image released on April 18, Ashley McBryde performs at the 56th Academy of Country Music Awards on April 18, 2021 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Terry Wyatt/ACMA2021/Getty Images for ACM)

In 2018, Ashley McBryde released "Girl Goin' Nowhere," inspired by a teacher who told McBryde her dream of becoming a singer-songwriter was "stupid."  The Arkansas-raised artist has done more than just prove her naysayers wrong. She made her Grand Ole Opry debut, earned a Grammy nomination, won the CMA award for New Artist of the Year in 2019 and counts Garth Brooks and Eric Church among her many fans.

But McBryde is no overnight success. Her accomplishments are the result of years of hard work and countless shows, from bikers bars to open mic nights. Now, the country star is partnering with Fender to help independent artists achieve their own goals.

The "One Night Standards" singer is taking part in Fender's Player Plus Studio Sessions, a global initiative to support independent artists in the U.S., the U.K., Mexico, Australia and Japan. Fender is funding and donating over 260 hours of studio time and sound engineering services to help artists get their projects off the ground. McBryde helped judge submissions from independent artists across the globe.

Read More: Story Behind the Song: Ashley McBryde's Autobiographical 'Girl Goin' Nowhere'

McBryde, who independently released her self-titled debut album in 2006, says the opportunity to help out fellow artists is a full circle moment.

"I was a struggling artist for a long time," McBryde tells Wide Open Country"I don't really believe in shortcuts as I think the journey and the struggle is what hones craft and gives you staying power, but an opportunity for a hand up and a chance at studio time at any of these legendary spots that Fender has offered, is something I would have jumped all over when I was fighting and scrapping and playing any biker bar that would have me. I really hope these artists take full advantage of it and I can't wait to hear what they do. " 

McBryde says she looks for artists whose unique voice is reflected through their music.

"The most important thing to me when finding new artists is identifying someone who understands themselves, is totally comfortable with who they are and has settled into a lane that is unique to them," McBryde continued. "There is a lot of mimicry in music so when someone is 100 percent comfortable in their weirdness, I love that and it definitely stands out. "

McBryde released her fourth studio album in 2020. She recently collaborated with Carly Pearce for the duet, "Never Wanted to be That Girl." She's currently on tour with Luke Combs.

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Ashley McBryde on Playing Biker Bars, Embracing 'Weirdness' and Supporting Independent Artists [Interview]