Ashley McBryde just won her first-ever CMA Award, for New Artist of the Year, a category she shared with Carly Pearce, Midland, Cody Johnson and Morgan Wallen. McBryde overcame several obstacles in her path to success, including entering the genre at a time when women struggle to be heard at radio. For McBryde, the award is about perseverance as much as talent, something she hopes to pass on to others, especially other young women.
"Girls, this thing's heavy, and you'll feel really good carrying it around," McBryde told PopCulture.com and other media backstage at the CMA Awards. "It's never too early to start doing what you want to do. It's never too late to start doing what you want to do, either. Just don't forget, the only person that can stop you is you. So don't tell yourself no, because everybody else is going to do that for you."
"So the queen has spoken," McBryde said. "Somebody sent it to me today, and I thought it was a really, really nice thing to do, a really nice sentiment. I also thought it was a rather good impression of me. She did leave out one thing though, when I was behind her at the ACMs. When she called me to tell me I was nominated for an ACM, I told her I owed her a hug when I saw her, so when she finally came to her seat in front of me I tapped her on the shoulder and said, 'I'm sorry, I'm so awkward, but I do owe you a hug and I keep my word.'"
McBryde started out playing in her native Arkansas, earning her support one fan at a time – a process that continues to pay off for her.
"I love little clubs. I love dive bars, biker bars, trucker bars," McBryde enthused. "I love doing that stuff. That's the hardest work you'll really ever do because you've got a room full of 60 people that don't give a crap if you're playing a guitar or not, or whether you're a radio or a jukebox. If you can get that one guy to start bobbing his head and turn around on the bar stool. And then the next guy turns around and here you got the room. That's really similar, not even close to this scale, but really similar to that feeling of, 'I got ya. I can find a way to entertain that.'
"And the women that are singing tonight – Maren Morris just sang, and I tell you, she's the rangiest singer I've ever heard in my entire life," she continued. "She can sing lower than I can, she can sing higher than I can, and I think that's really cool. And she did the same thing. She's spent a decade in Texas, just really grilling and grinding on those little clubs. I love it, still love it."
Photo Credit: Getty / Image Group LA