Ashley Cooke Readies Major Touring Gigs And Teases Debut Album
2023 is shaping up to be another milestone year for Cooke.
Ashley Cooke; Photo by Brayln Kelly
Ashley Cooke was fresh off the plane after spending a few days in London and Glasgow for the Country 2 Country (C2C) Festival when she caught up with Country Now during this year’s Country Radio Seminar (CRS).
The rising female songstress had a strong start to the new year after releasing her reflective tune, “It’s Been A Year.” This song summed up her whirlwind year that consisted of plenty of highs and lows between family struggles and keeping up with her constantly growing career.
This followed a slew of releases in 2022 with songs like “running back,” “dirt on ’em,” “back in the saddle” and “getting into.” Additionally, she recently unveiled a wedding version of her charming ballad featuring Brett Young, “Never Til Now.”
As she looks ahead to the year in front of her, Cooke has plenty of new music and major career milestones on the horizon. Not only will she be claiming her very first headlining dates in her home state of Florida this spring, but she’s also slated to hit the road with some of country music’s biggest names. Starting March 30, the “Getting Into” singer will return as support for Brett Young’s 5 Tour 3 2 1 Tour. Then in the summer, she will share the stage with Luke Bryan on his Country On Tour.
Despite her busy schedule, Cooke maintained her bright personality and uplifting perspective on life as she opened up about her recent releases, her opening gigs with the country music superstars, and her debut album, which she teased is set to drop later this year.
Keep reading to learn more about Ashley Cooke’s recent conversation with Country Now.
You ended the year with the release of “It’s Been A Year.” Can you talk about the inspiration behind that story?
I wrote that song kind of just recapping my year. Funny backstory on “It’s Been A Year”…not even funny, it’s crazy. The day that I wrote that song, I was heading to a writing session and my mom called me and she said, “Hey, bad news, your grandma has breast cancer again.” I was like, man, this just sucks. I was thinking back to the last time I saw my grandma, and it was exactly 365 days to the week from when that day was. So I walk into the writing session that day and Brett Tyler, one of my co-writers, was like, “Hey, I have an idea for a song. It’s called, ‘It’s Been A Year.’” I was like, this is crazy. So we wrote that song to kind of recap that, and the day that I released the song, my grandma was declared in remission from breast cancer. So it was super weird.
What has it been like seeing such a positive response to this song?
It’s been nuts. And I think, since I’ve released it and gone on to play radio shows, played shows across the country, people are singing it so loud, and it’s really inspiring and cool when I never expected that song to do what it did. I think it was like number seventh most used song on Instagram or something crazy. So, nuts. And I always love when that happens, when you don’t expect a song to pop off and then it does. I’m honestly like, watching people’s recap videos of it too, like I’m honored that they don’t even know that it’s me sometimes, they’re just using the song and I love that.
Soon, you will be taking your music on the road in support of Brett Young. How does it feel to get to tour with him again?
We hit the road last year together, so I’m excited to get back out cause I know his whole camp. We all go to, you know, Red Door together all the time and hang out. So it’s fun, it’s like big family going back on the road together and also singing “Never Til Now” together. It’s gonna be a lot of fun. It feels familiar, in the best way.
What is the audience’s reaction like when you and Young get on stage together to sing your collaborative song, “Never Til Now”?
It’s so cool. The way that we’ve done it, I don’t know if I’ll do this this time, I guess we’ll find out. So I’m first of three, so it’s me and then Morgan (Evans) and then Brett. It’s always me being first of three. And Brett, amazing man, no ego at all, he is like, “Hey, I’ll just come sing it on your set.” He’s the headliner and he comes out. It’s my second to last song and I surprise people, which is really fun. Maybe not a surprise anymore if they know about it, but basically, “Never Til Now” in my set, I’ll sing first verse and chorus by myself without anybody else on stage, and then I’ll say, “please welcome Brett Young.” And the whole crowd’s like, oh my God because they’re not expecting him until later. So he comes out and then he sings that verse with me, and then he is like, “We’ll see y’all soon” and he runs off. It’s so cool. He’s really great and he’s always been so supportive and, you know, willing to do whatever it is to help me succeed, which is really sweet.
What made you decide to release a wedding version of this song with an accompanying fan-filled music video?
Honestly, people on social media. The amount of videos that I had seen made and was tagged in with people walking down the aisle, their first dance, like, it became this wedding anthem for so many people. Even at shows, people would come up to me at the merch table and say like, “this is our wedding song.” So me and Brett were talking about it and my whole team, my producer, everybody was like this song, it needs a wedding version. It needs something that people can really use for their first dances, for their walking down the aisle. Not that the original version wasn’t very much a wedding version too, but we just wanted to make it like, “Hey, this music video is gonna be nothing but you guys in these videos.” It was kind of my way of saying “thank you” to people for loving that song and wanting it to be a part of their special moments.
Also, I wrote it about like a manifestation, not about somebody that I was actually dating. So it’s cool to see people really, you know, taking the song to heart… mean that song’s gonna be their song for the next 50 years, you know, so it’s really cool.
This summer, you will join Luke Bryan on the road for his Country On Tour. What can fans expect from you during that trek?
I’ve debated changing sets between Brett’s tour and Luke’s tour because Brett’s more kind of ballads. He has some bangers and they’re all bangers, but like he has mostly mid tempo stuff and then Luke is like, “let’s party! ‘Country Girl (Shake It For Me)’” So yeah, I mean, we’ll see…I think I bring a little bit more energy when it comes to Luke just because naturally the crowd is a little more like party crowd. I think it’ll just be play what they wanna hear and have a good night and make everybody have fun no matter what.
Is there anything you can share about your next set of new music?
Yeah, I have my debut album coming up. Hopefully around summertime is when it’s gonna be released. We’re still working on the track list and how many songs, but it’s a lot of songs. I will say that, it’s not your typical like 10 to 12 song album, so it’s a lot of songs. I’m really excited. It’s gonna be fun. I don’t really know all the details, there’s some really cool features on there too so yeah, it’s gonna be fun.
Fans can keep up with Ashley Cooke on Instagram.
Madeleine O’Connell graduated from North Central College with a bachelors degree in Journalism and Broadcast Communications before deciding to pursue her studies further at DePaul University. There, she earned her masters degree in Digital Communication & Media Arts. O’Connell served as a freelance writer for over two years while also interning with the Academy of Country Music, SiriusXM and Circle Media and assisting with Amazon Music’s Country Heat Weekly podcast. In addition to Country Now, she has been published in American Songwriter, Music Mayhem, and Holler.Country. Madeleine O’Connell is a member of the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music.