Growing up in Massachusetts as the daughter of Senator Scott Brown, Ayla Brown was an aspiring star basketball player who dreamed of one day playing in the WNBA. Then, in 2005 at the age of 17, one (very important) singing audition would change the course of her life entirely. Having never sung in public, Ayla took a huge risk and on a whim tried out for American Idol Season 5 in Boston. To her amazement, she received high praise from the judges and ended up a top 16 semifinalist for the popular singing reality television show. American Idol sparked something new in Ayla, and although she continued to play Division 1 college basketball at Boston College through graduation, she began to set her sights on a singing career. Just one year ago, the northern athlete made the move to Nashville and now dedicates 100% of her time to developing her upcoming album and country music career. We caught up with the outgoing, personable and ultra-talented musician to learn more about what she thinks of Nashville, her music ambitions and how her love of country music came to be. One thing’s for certain: Ayla Brown is here Nashville, so get ready!
Miss A: What kind of music did you grow up listening to and loving?
Ayla: All kinds! My favorite had to be pop — it was the Christina Aguliera era — and I also adored Celine Dion. It wasn’t until I was a junior in high school that I was really introduced to country music. My best friend loved it and played a Rascal Flatts CD one day and from then on, I was hooked. I haven’t looked back since!
Miss A: When did you decide to pursue a singing career and move to Nashville?
Ayla: Music opened up a new side of me that I have come to love. It only took one trip to Nashville to realize that country music and this city was the fit for me. So, I packed up my bags, and left New England to move down South! I’ve already recorded eight songs for my album and have a single out: “Goodbye for Good.” Miss A Note: Download Ayla’s single here.
Miss A: What do you fill your time with in Nashville, when you’re not on the road performing or singing the National Anthem for athletic events?
Ayla: A lot of singer/songwriter music nights! I’ve met a lot of friends in the industry and we do writing sessions every day. It’s one of my goals to perfect my skill of songwriting. I love creating and performing my original music. The words are mine.
Miss A: Who has been the most interesting person you’ve met in the industry?
Ayla: Easy! I’d have to say Blake Shelton. When I was a Great American Country (GAC) correspondent at the CMA Fest in 2009, I actually got to meet him and he was so fun — joking around with me the entire time. A close second is his wife Miranda Lambert. I interviewed her at the Academy of Country Music Awardsonce and she was so down to earth. What impressed me the most about her was her unique way of relating to her fans. I loved that about her.Miss A: Favorite Nashville hang out?
Miss A: Nashville is known for its original food/restaurants…which do you frequent most often?
Ayla: Recently I tried Sitar Indian Cuisine and loved it. Trying new foods is something that I think is fun. I’m also a huge sushi fan and Sushi Yobi on Demonbreun Street is a favorite of mine. A tired and true favorite, though? Outback Steakhouse. I actually partnered with the popular chain restaurant in 2010 for its “Feeding Freedom” tour and performed for two weeks in Afghanistan for our military troops. Not only was it a huge honor for me to sing to these incredible men and women but it was also awesome to see them enjoy a taste of home — each one of them had a Bloomin’ Onion (Outback’s famous onion ring appetizer) and an Outback steak. This experience propelled my interest in charity work and giving back through my talents.
Miss A: Speaking of charity, tell us more about Songs of Love and your work with them.
Ayla: I was working as a CBS correspondent and covered a story about the charity group that unites songs with children cancer patients. The non-profit works to create original, free and creative songs for these children with music artists around the country. Professional singers/songwriters write songs about each specific child and really personalize the music for that child. I was so inspired that I asked Songs of Love how I could join up with them. Now, I’m proud to be the Songs of Love spokesperson and I have loved even more the reward of writing and performing music for these brave children. (Check out Ayla’s songs for Hanna and Colin here). I want to use my talents and ability to sing to write and connect with these kids and I love doing so.
Miss A: Your charity work is inspiring. Miss A is all about charity and style, any fashion favorites of yours?
Ayla: I love Cache and their beautiful gowns are perfect for girls on a budget! I’ve partnered with Cache and am dressed by them for TV and red carpet events. I’m always drawn to colors and clothes that fit you well. That’s my go-to fashion advice!
Miss A: Who was your first role model?
Ayla: When I was younger, I looked up to the older girls on the high school basketball team in our city. I watched them as a young elementary school student and decided that I wanted to be just like them — strong, confident and inspiring to younger kids. They mentored me at a young age and encouraged me to do the same. With my fans (and especially younger fans) I always try to be personable, nice and go the extra mile with them. I believe that’s how people deserve to be treated and I’m honored and grateful for my fans! Some drive all the way from Canada just to see me and I even have a fan in Israel who calls me almost every day! I’m thankful for them. Without them, I wouldn’t be here in Nashville, living my dream.
Miss A: Any crazy, secret talent you have besides your TV work, basketball athleticism and singing/songwriting?!
Ayla: Yes – I love sewing! I make quilts from old T-shirts as memories so that I can keep them for the rest of my life. I even have an entire Boston Celtics quilt that reminds me of home and where I came from.
Miss A: So, what next?
Ayla: I want to have my album (with all the right songs!) on iTunes, be the best musician possible that I can be, and go on tour and get signed!
Miss A: We have no doubt all that — and more — will happen!
For more about Ayla, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, like her on Facebook AND check out her upcoming tour dates. And, don’t forget to download Ayla’s single “Goodbye for Good” at CDBaby.com.