Kassi Ashton is not your cookie-cutter country musician.
The rough-around-the-edges country soul artist was raised in two opposite worlds. Her time as a child was split between the structured world of classical ballet classes and beauty pageants and the world of competitive shooting and dirt biking on a cattle farm.
Now a senior at Belmont, Ashton has worked toward creating a sound true to both sides of her upbringing. Drawing from icons like Loretta Lynn and Bonnie Raitt, her music straddles the line of “old” and “new” country and weaves them together with blues and soul influences.
“I don’t want to pretend to be something or add something to myself that’s not true. I want people to know who I am exactly and to have no question,” said Ashton.
Finding an accurate image to represent her has been a hugely important part of the progression of her sound. After a bout with cancer in 2014, motivation became a big part of Ashton’s music.
“I’m singing it to inspire people to anything – from anything from an 8 a.m. test to cancer, you can get through,” she said.
Ashton is no stranger to country music. Raised on the likes of Hank Williams and Loretta Lynn, her first encounter with the stage was as a child. Her mother would take her to karaoke contests and whisper the lyrics in her ear for Ashton to sing out.
“If it wasn’t for the radio in elementary school, I wouldn’t have known current music at all,” said Ashton.
A lot has changed since the karaoke days. Now Ashton is at home on the stage, confidently channeling the rebellious spirit instilled in her from a young age.
“It’s a blessing and a curse. I don’t get nervous, I just get excited,” said Ashton,
And she is very excited. Excited to meet and mingle with industry figures present, but mostly to put on a memorable performance.
On the night of the showcase, Ashton plans to wear a homemade shirt boasting the slogan “Long Live Country Music.” She is doing her part to make sure that country music does just that.
This article was written by Paula Ramirez.