Ashley McMillen is a country-inspired singer songwriter based out of Nashville, Tennessee who caught the attention of NewSong judges with her striking vocals and original take on contemporary country music. In addition to being an award-winning songwriter and vocalist, McMillen made a name for herself as a radio personality on Hitkicker 99.7 Central Virginia’s Country.
McMillen has been pursuing her musical dream since childhood. The West Virginia native has come a long way since her parents snuck her into karaoke bars to sing Etta James, Reba McIntire, Pat Benatar, and Patsy Cline.
We took some time to learn more about McMillen’s inspiration and her hopes for this year’s NewSong Music competition. To learn more about this promising musician, visit her website at ashleymcmillen.com.
How did you first react to the news that you were a NewSong Music finalist?
I actually first saw that NewSong shared my photo on Facebook and, knowing that I had submitted to the contest, I thought, “Wow, they’re promoting some of the entries … they must have liked some of my stuff.” Then, as I did a little more research, I learned that my photo was shared because I WAS A FINALIST! I was absolutely blown away. I’ve submitted to the competition before, and I know what an honor it is to be considered for such a prestigious event. So, I am excited, honored, nervous, and everything in between. Most of all, I’m grateful that I get the opportunity to share my music and lyrics with an even larger audience. Songwriters write and perform because it is a part of our being, and when people listen, it makes our souls very happy.
What is your songwriting process like, and where do you find inspiration?
When I was young, music was always in my head. It was as if I was living my life to an original soundtrack. I had no idea that others felt differently until I got older. Music is in my soul, pumping through my veins. I write songs all the time. I hum melodies in the car that later become a chorus to one of my songs. I talk to myself while grocery shopping, for example, and come up with some really cool song hooks. It’s just always there. I have old shoe boxes full of song ideas, phrases, etc. just waiting to be finished. I have to transfer my iPhone data often to make space for more notes and voice memos. I really enjoy meeting a co-writer with similar ideas because, when we put all of our own notes together, we sometimes come up with some amazing tunes. My songwriting inspiration is absolutely Lori McKenna. My life inspiration is my mother, Lisa McMillen.
What do you hope to get out of your experience as a finalist?
I am so incredibly excited and humbled to be selected as one of twelve finalists in such a prestigious competition. I am looking forward to connecting with the other writers and performers because there is always so much to learn. They are all so talented, and I am excited to share all of our music together in New York.
To learn more about Ashley McMillen visit ashleymcmillen.com and follow Ashley McMillen Music on Facebook. You can also listen to her music on SoundCloud, and YouTube. Stay tuned for her newest single, “Little Bitty Ring,” coming soon!