Ashley McBryde’s Music Career Feels Like It’s Falling into Place

The Grammy-winning country powerhouse is feeding off of a different kind of buzz these days.
Photograph by Katie Kauss

Photograph by Katie Kauss

When Grammy Award winner and Grand Ole Opry member Ashley McBryde makes a stop at the Andrew J Brady Music Center on December 2, the vocal powerhouse promises she’ll come out throwing some punches. “For the first seven songs, I don’t say a whole lot,” says McBryde during a recent interview, laughing. “I give a nice welcome and I introduce one band member. We’ll slow it down to give you time to take a breath, but not ’til that seventh song.”

And more often than not, that seventh song is “Girl Goin’ Nowhere,” an autobiographical gem that snagged McBryde, 40, nominations at the 2020 Grammy Awards for Best Country Song and Best Country Solo Performance. It will always have a spot in her already crowded setlist, which also includes her Top 10 RIAA Platinum-Certified single “One Night Standards.”

“I’ve absolutely loved creating this show,” gushes McBryde, who scored a Grammy Award win in 2022 courtesy of her duet with Carly Pearce, “Never Wanted to Be That Girl.” “There’s no smoke and mirrors here. We don’t use tracks. We play real instruments that are plugged into real amplifiers.”

And for the foreseeable future, McBryde says that her setlist on her The Devil I Know Tour will include every one of the 11 tracks on her fourth studio album, The Devil I Know, including her current single “Light on in the Kitchen.”

Of course, bringing these particular songs to life onstage had her thinking she had to step up her game when it came to stage production this time around. “We’ve never really had any stage production,” chuckles McBryde, who released her debut album Girl Goin’ Nowhere in 2018. “I went to my team and said, ‘I know less is more, but zero is still none.’ We needed stained glass and we needed warmth and we needed wood and we needed a piano that looks like a piano. And, damn, I needed a place to set my drinks. So-and-so has confetti cannons, and I don’t have a place to set my water.”

Indeed, everything finally seems to have its place professionally and personally, as McBryde admits that she finds herself at her healthiest right now. “I had to make some changes,” she says. “One of those things was quitting drinking. I basically said to myself, ‘I need to quit drinking or I’m going to die.’ And so, I thought, ‘I’m going to do it.’ And I did.”

She’s been sober for more than 500 days. “Not drinking alcohol anymore isn’t the only change that happens when you decide to make that change,” says McBryde, who recently took boxing. “Then it just falls in place. I’m deciding to make changes and I’m executing them, and I’m so lucky that I have a great work ethic in my brain and in my DNA that I can use as discipline at any time.”

And when it’s not easy, she has learned to cope. “Let’s say I’m uncomfortable or sad or angry,” McBryde says. “I know how to be uncomfortable or sad or angry. It takes whatever that feeling is down so many notches that it becomes tolerable.”

And now the joy of stepping on stage feels like never before. “The buzz that comes from walking up from the back of the stage?” she asks aloud. “Whiskey wishes it could do that.”

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