Ashley McBryde became an official member of the Grand Ole Opry last year. The “Girl Going Nowhere” singer was invited to join by Garth Brooks, and inducted by her good friend, Terri Clark. When asked what it means to her to be an official Grand Ole Opry member, McBryde said it, quite literally, means “the whole world” to her.
“That’s the whole damn world tied up in a bow … I still get teary about it because the being at the Opry is kind of a family feel,” McBryde says on Apple Music Country’s Trailblazers Radio with Fancy Hagood. “You know how it is. It’s a family feel anyway. But when I walk in and they say, ‘Ashley, here’s your mail’ — I literally get mail there? That’s home. That’s what that means. And my name is on the wall on the plaque, and my face is on the wall in the room, which means I am now one of the bricks that are put in the wall to build country music. And that means absolutely everything to me. That is literally country music as an entity putting its arms around you and saying, ‘You belong here.’ It is.
“And I know sometimes that we can let it feel cheesy or it can sound cliché to people that don’t quite understand it, and that’s okay too, because that’s part of our tradition as well, telling Hee Haw jokes and being corny and, and wearing overalls, things like that,” she adds with a laugh, “But that is one of the biggest ‘You’ve made it kiddo’ moments.”
McBryde dreamed of being a singer and songwriter in country music, but it was a plan that didn’t seem feasible. Instead, she tried a few other routes, ultimately ending up where she knew she belonged all along.
“I was at Arkansas State University, and I’m studying classical music, playing French horn, but that’s not my favorite thing,” McBryde recalls. “That’s what’s paying for school. Try not getting your a– kicked in high school, carrying a French horn down the hallway. So this is where she gets scrappy, and I start playing in bars. There are not really bars in Jonesboro. So I’m in the basement of establishments and then just an hour and a half away is Memphis. So I started playing bars in Memphis. That gets me moving to Memphis. But I’m still in school and I lived in Memphis and played five nights a week. And then eventually I was like, ‘I’m moving to Nashville.’
McBryde made the move to Music City at the end of 2005, playing on Tuesday nights at the popular Dan McGuinness bar off of Music Row, where plenty of other aspiring stars also began. Although the audience was receptive, McBryde quickly realized there was a downside to playing music in Nashville, and a big one.
“That’s when I found out that they don’t pay anyone to play in Nashville,” McBryde says. “There was no base pay on Broadway or anything back then. So, I had to supplement my income by still playing all the bars that I used to play in Arkansas and Oklahoma and Missouri. And then also add Indiana, Kentucky, Illinois, at first.”
McBryde lived with a friend for a while, but even before she had established roots, she made one major change to ensure that, now that she had arrived, she wouldn’t be tempted to return home.
“[I] just added all the Nashville bars that I could to my route, and I was home,’ McBryde recalls. “I changed my driver’s license as fast as I could, so it would be harder to leave.”
McBryde currently has a Top 25 hit with “Light On In The Kitchen.” The song is from her The Devil I Know album, out on September 8. She will embark on her headlining The Devil I Know Tour, which kicks off on October 7 in Mobile, Alabama. Find all of McBryde’s music and tour dates, and pre-order The Devil I Know, at AshleyMcBryde.com.