Ashlie Amber is an undeniable talent who is proving she belongs in Country Music. Amber’s journey to country music was a long road filled with detours, but she has arrived. Ashlie has faced her share of setbacks and rejections but also found help along her path. Please keep reading to learn more about Ashlie Amber and her journey.
From the Love of Sports to Music
Ashlie Amber did not begin her childhood pursuing music, but her path would change along the way. Amber said, “I grew up in Thornton, Colorado, a suburb outside of Denver. I am one of four children, including a twin brother, but we are not identical. In my immediate family, I am the only one who has pursued music. But, my dad’s side of the family is musically inclined. My grandpa used to travel all over the U.S. with his gospel group. So, music was very much a part of our household, but it was not something anyone pursued because we grew up separate from that part of our family.”
It’s interesting how our choices take us on a different journey than we would’ve had otherwise. For example, where we choose to live leaves a lasting impact on who we become, which was true for Ashlie Amber. The singer/songwriter said, “My dad moved us to Colorado because he wanted us to have different opportunities than what he had. He wanted us to go to good schools and not have the burdens of what sometimes being black in America can be. I applaud my mom and dad for doing that because we grew up in a great area.”
Our experiences and losses shape us into the person we are supposed to be. Amber said, “Growing up, we listened to a lot of Motown, but there wasn’t a lot of singing in the house. We played sports, and my dad coached us. I played volleyball, basketball, softball, and soccer. But one day, I was singing in the car to “Hey Mr. DJ.” At the time, I was around six years old. As I was singing along, my dad turned off the radio and back on about 30 seconds later. I was still on the right key in the same place as the song. Dad said did you know you could sing? I said yeah. That is where my musical journey started.”
Ashlie Amber Chooses the Path of Music
Many singer-songwriters are pulled toward music because of its ability to heal themselves and others, which is the case for Ashlie Amber. The singer-songwriter said, “My dad got very sick, and he was in the hospital for eleven months before he passed away. Without my dad, I didn’t want to play sports anymore. Sports reminded me too much of him. Even though my dad was the one who told me I could sing, music didn’t remind me of him in a sad way. So, I turned to music.”
You might be asking yourself, how did Ashlie get into country music? I had the same question. Amber said, “It was probably in high school that I decided to pursue music, and it’s also when I discovered country music. I was at a pep assembly for the football team. They were cute but terrible dancers. The players were dancing to Tim McGraw, and everybody was singing along to the song. I realized I was missing something because we listened to Earth, Wind, and Fire, Michael Jackson, The Spinners, Whitney Houston, Prince, and all that stuff. I inherited my dad’s vinyl collection, all Motown and soul. So, I started listening to Tim McGraw, Garth Brooks, Shania Twain, but I was also listening to Brittney Spears, NSYNC, and the Backstreet Boys.”
Finding her Voice in Country Music
Ashlie Amber’s journey to country music had a few detours along the way, but that is where she found her voice. Amber said, “My music upbringing was eclectic, but what I always loved about country music was the storytelling. When I got older and was pursuing music, an independent label signed me at nineteen, and they wanted me to do R&B and Hip Hop. However, that wasn’t my voice. I didn’t grow up in a black neighborhood or church. So, I didn’t develop that sound. Instead, I have this crossover sound. I wanted to sing country, but the label said I couldn’t do that because I looked like this. So, I was like, I guess I have to get in where I fit in, but I was unhappy.”
Ashlie Amber’s unhappiness at the label would lead her to a detour on her way to country music. The singer/songwriter said, “I basically stopped singing for a year. I was waiting tables at TGI Fridays, where I became known as the waitress who sang. For birthdays, I would sing them a special birthday song. For an anniversary, I would sing “A Whole New World” from Alladin. It made me extra tip money.”
Lessons Learned from Musical Theatre
The people we meet along our life journey can also influence the choices we make. Amber said, “While working at TGI Fridays, I met a woman who became one of my friends. She said, you have a gift; why are you working at TGI Fridays? She introduced me to musical theatre, which helped me fall more in love with country music. They are similar in their storytelling aspect. In musical theatre, the music narrates the story, and to me, that’s what country music is, just stylized differently.”
It was only a matter of time before Ashlie would try to find her voice again. The singer/songwriter said, “I did musical theatre for a while, but I always said I would leap back to making my music someday. So fast-forward years, I took the scenic route quite literally. I’ve been to 72 countries while performing. Sometimes, when I think about it, I forget I’ve been to so many different places and experienced so many different cultures. It’s all been through music and my love of music.”
Ashlie Amber Just Wanted to Sing
Ashlie’s musical journey is what made her into the confident performer she has become. Amber said, “At the end of the day, all I wanted to do was sing. However, it isn’t easy to find your niche when everybody loves to tell you what you can and cannot do. Through musical theatre and all of my experiences, I became more and more of who I am. I became more of who I am on stage. Musical theatre teaches you how to perform, and I ended up being on cruise ships. I was in the cast of these huge broadway-style revues, but it’s all pop music. But, you cannot pick the key you sing in, so you learn to adapt.”
It seems Ashlie Amber’s ability to adapt has brought her to the place she is today, but she has been fortunate to meet those who believe in her talent. Amber said, “I started doing a Whitney Houston tribute show, which also helped me be a better performer. The Whitney show allowed me to fund my country project. It also allowed me to meet my current manager, who happened to be in the audience at the Whitney Houston celebration. He, too, asked me why I was there. He said I was a star. I always wanted to be a country artist and write music for myself, but it was never the right time. I kept in touch with him, and two years later, I gave him a call, and two years after that, here we are.
Ashlie Amber is Proving She Belongs in Country Music
Nashville is a town where rejection becomes a common experience for many singer/songwriters, but you have to persevere if you are going to make it. Ashlie Amber is doing that. Being a woman in country music is hard enough, but being a black woman trying to make it in country music is almost impossible. Amber said, “I had a meeting with a label head who told me I wasn’t authentic enough. I knew exactly what he meant because he couldn’t possibly be talking about my music. People like Billy Montana, the ladies of Runaway June, and Amy Foster had co-written my songs. The only thing that was not typically country was the color of my skin.”
One could imagine their response, but Ashlie chose to take it as a positive, and it would fuel her fire. Amber said, “Instead of taking the label execs comments as a negative, I went on a fourteen-day songwriting binge. Fourteen songs in fourteen days. The first song I wrote was “Those Nights,” which was my first self-penned release earlier this year. I just celebrated my second self-penned release. At this point, I can’t help but thank him. Since then, we’ve gotten 75 publications. I’ve been featured in Forbes and Hollywood Life. I have also officially become a member of the CMA.”
Changing the Standard in Country Music
Country music has always been about storytelling, but the sound of the music has changed through the years borrowing from other genres. The singer-songwriter said, “Everything is moving more pop because that’s where the money is. However, when people say authentic, I don’t know what that means in country music anymore. You have Niko Moon, which is country trap. Great songs! I’m singing it all day. Sam Hunt is very R&B influenced. Look at all the artists who are crossing over pop like Thomas Rhett and Kane Brown.
Ashlie Amber’s music is authentic because it represents her voice and the music she wants to create. However, she has struggled to be accepted into the country music community. Amber said, “R&B and Hip Hop are the most influential music markets we have. I understand the purity and wanting to stay true to the music, but let’s be honest about who created the genre. Yet, people refuse to allow us in it, but they are taking influences from other genres we helped create and using it for their gain. However, when you put one of us on it, it’s progressive R&B, but it’s called country if you put Sam Hunt on it. That’s not fair! That’s why I am here to change that standard, but I cannot do it alone.”
When Mickey Guyton released “Black Like Me” last year, it sparked an interest in the other black country artists. It was how I learned of Ashlie Amber and many others. Amber said, “There are so many of us like Mickey Guyton, Reyna Roberts, Tiera, Breland, and Willie Jones. We all have to be successful because it’s the only way to show the industry we are valuable commodities that you can’t push aside. We can be an asset to the country music community.” I agree with Ashlie. If country music is to expand the genre, artists like Ashlie Amber and others must be a part of it.”
Ashlie Amber Releases her Latest Single, “Open”
Ashlie Amber releases her latest single, “Open,” on May 21st. It is the follow-up to “Those Nights,” released earlier this year. Jamie Tate produced both songs. “Those Nights” reminds about a special night with a significant other. Amber’s music comes from a positive, feel-good place. I am sure we all can relate to a special night with someone we love or imagine what that night like that would be. “Open” is about finding someone who opens your heart, but it also can be about being open to new experiences.
If you have yet to hear Ashlie’s music, you can listen to it on Apple Music or Spotify. In addition, you can listen to “Open” right here.
Fun Facts with Ashlie Amber
Ashlie Amber is an undeniable force but is entirely down to earth, which was somewhat surprising. It rarely happens, but Ashlie Amber certainly surprised me. Ashlie shared some of her fun facts. Amber said, I probably have the tallest hair in Nashville, maybe even in music today. I have a new Australian Shepherd puppy named Guinness, after my favorite beer. I am terrible at cooking, and I cannot tell you how many times I have set off the smoke alarm. Even though I am from Colorado, I am not a snowboarder or skier. People may hate watching movies with me since I can predict what is going to happen within 10-15 minutes of watching a movie.”
Ashlie Amber is a talented, confident boss babe who belongs in Nashville. She belongs in Country Music. Undiscovered Nashville hopes she continues to share her voice and be a part of changing the status quo. Ashlie is an undeniable force in an industry slow to adapt to change. However, we can make a difference as fans by appreciating the music Ashlie Amber is creating. Please follow Ashlie on social media and be part of her musical journey.