“I want my music to be simple and understandable so that my listeners can really relate and connect with it,” says country hopeful Ashley McKinley. “That’s really important to me.”
This unassuming yet sophisticated philosophy is evident in McKinley’s songwriting and truthful throughout her early catalog. Her soft voice, elegant melodies, and cut-to-the-chase lyrics transform cliché country lingo into a meaningful coming-of-age story. She has molded her seemingly ordinary life experiences with heartbreak, love, and family into the immersive themes of a raw niche completely her own. Her effortless stage presence pairs seamlessly with her acoustic, airy sound to create a dreamy experience for all. The evolution from “someday” dreamer to rising local favorite has proven to be a pleasantly unexpected one for McKinley and forecasts only growth in her future.
Having grown up on a horse farm in Howell, New Jersey – just a skip away from the musically-infested streets of renowned Asbury Park – McKinley has long been exposed to the ever-budding potential of the music industry. With influences including Christina Perri, Kacey Musgraves, The Dixie Chicks, and Carole King; and sound resembling Brandi Carlile, she’s well-equipped to make her mark as a powerful female in not only the Nashville scene but the even wider margins of an entertainment business that knows no bounds.
Over the last few years, McKinley has been balancing life as a songwriting major at Nashville’s well-known Belmont University, while also recording hours in the studio and on the small stage. As of recent, she has established a joint venture with Asbury Park-based Telegraph Hill Records, which serves artists throughout the Jersey Shore and New York City area. Having graced the ears of many locals and passersby with her natural talents on acoustic guitar and piano, she has earned her spot in many noteworthy writer’s rounds and mini-festivals, including those at venues like 3rd & Lindsley, Belcourt Taps, and Alley Taps, located in famed Printer’s Alley of downtown Nashville. Her featured performances include favorites and sneak peeks alike from her 2017 debut album Wishful Thinking, a plethora of heartfelt and strong-willed ballads, including her first single “I Can,” which rightfully served as an introduction into a successful end to the decade with her most-streamed tracks to date, “The Truth Is” and “Break Even,” both 2019 singles. “The Truth Is” has also made its mark in being added to many prominent Spotify playlists spanning genres and audiences. With an impressive running start, McKinley is on track to make waves in the growing contemporary country market.
"Believe me, I tried hard to keep it together / Truth is that we don't belong / The truth is, we always felt wrong." As red and raw as those conversations can be, rare is the song that captures them so well. On "The Truth Is," McKinley succeeds”. - Brian Erick, CoolDad Music
McKinley was among nominations for Top Acoustic Act two years running (2017, 2018) at the Asbury Music Awards, which is a prestigious annual event held at The Stone Pony, an established New Jersey venue that served as a launchpad for some of the biggest names in music history – Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi. In 2017, she was also nominated for Top Female Vocalist and Best Local Release with Wishful Thinking.
McKinley’s notable experience with local NJ radio, podcasts, and newspapers lend itself well to her future publicity endeavors as an artist. She plans to continue her work with producer Will Cooper and hopes to get her foot in the door of the high-capital touring world. As an active member of BMI, McKinley intends on transitioning into songwriting full time after graduating, as well as signing a full publishing deal.