Ashley McBryde is unafraid to be who she is, both in her music and in her life, at least not any more. After releasing Jalopies & Expensive Guitars in 2016, and being told to straighten her hair and change her image, the Arkansas native released her critically-acclaimed Girl Going Nowhere album almost one year ago. But this time, McBryde was determined to make country music on her terms, without thought to whether it was what someone else thought she should do.
"You do have to play the game a little bit or nobody's going to listen to you … but I think we played the game too much and it came across as ingenuine," McBryde told CBS News. "And it was a cool lesson for me, too, because I found out that unless I'm just unapologetically who I am, I really suck at pretending to be someone else."
McBryde might never have even made the move to Nashville, if not for one college professor at Arkansas State, where McBryde was studying, who told her she would never fulfill her dreams. The words, however painful, became the fire she needed to pursue her passion.
"She told me that that was stupid and it wouldn't happen, to remember where I'm from and have a good backup plan," recounted the singer, who wrote about that encounter in the title track for Girl Going Nowhere. "God that woman gave me hell. I gave it right back though."
McBryde courageously made the move to Music City, living out of a storage unit and writing songs.
"That's where the freedom is," McBryde explained. "That's where the money is. But it's so hard to be a songwriter, just writing for other people. That's like me coming to your house with ice cream and assuming this is what you were going for today. 'I hope ya like it!' And you're like, 'Mmm pass.' And then I have to not be upset when you don't like my ice cream."
The 35-year-old's risks are already paying off. McBryde is nominated for her first-ever Grammy Award, for Best Country Album, for Girl Going Nowhere.
"I got so overwhelmed," McBryde stated. "There was so much love coming at me at one time."
Still, at her core, McBryde is the same person she has always been, albeit maybe a slightly different size.
"I gained a little weight," quipped McBryde. "When you live on a bus and your choices are eating at a truck stop restaurant or eating at the A&W next to it, you know, that's just what happens. You eat garbage food, you get big. It'll even out."
The 2019 Grammy Awards will air on Sunday, Feb. 10, at 8:00 PM ET on CBS.
Photo Credit: Getty images/Jason Davis