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Morgan Ashley: Making moves for a career in music

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Morgan Ashley

Morgan Ashley's next scheduled concert is April 9 at the Canteen Bar and Grill in College Station.

Morgan Ashley received a guitar for Christmas when she was 14. It sat in her room, collecting dust, while she spent most of her free time working on her cheerleading skills and helping to raise livestock.

Two years later, that guitar came in handy as her interests evolved. The Bryan native sang at a talent show in a Future Farmers of America program at her high school in Columbus, Texas, and that’s when she realized her passion for music.

Ashley, whose family moved to Groesbeck when she was a baby and then to Columbus, is now building a music career in College Station, the city she says she loves most. The 25-year-old has 22 songs on Spotify, iTunes and other streaming services, and has released an album and two EPs.

Her early steps into performing included merging two primary loves: songwriting and animals.

“I remember one specific line from the songs I wrote — ‘I love my short horns,’” she said.

At the talent show, she performed “Famous in a Small Town” by Miranda Lambert and “The Climb” by Miley Cyrus. The first- and second-place winners played guitar, which inspired her to go back to her guitar and learn to play.

“I thought that was just the coolest thing ever to see them play the guitar,” she said. “So I picked up guitar and I never put it down.”

Kim Dyer, Ashley’s mother, said she didn’t know leading up to the talent show that Ashley could sing or even had a strong interest in music.

“We had spent from the time she was 8 years old until she graduated on horses and cattle, and she was going to be a vet,” Dyer said. “And her ag teacher convinced her to do that talent show, and she kind of in passing mentioned it to me, but we never talked about it. I went to the talent show and I was almost late because I sat in the back of the room. And when she started to sing, I just started bawling.”

Ashley graduated high school early and enrolled at Blinn College to study animal science. She was there for one semester when she realized music was her calling.

After a brief stint in Nashville, Ashley said she needed to come back and build her career in her home state. She moved to College Station and focused on songwriting by participating in workshops and reading as many books as she could about it, along with improving her guitar skills. She worked at a Starbucks for three years, and when she turned 21, her parents hired her at their construction company, S-Con Services in Bryan. She still works there when she’s not performing, but does not plan on staying there for long.

“What keeps me going is music in general,” Ashley said. “I don’t want to sit at a desk for the rest of my life, so I am determined to see my way out of there. My parents are very supportive and help keep me going, and my friends do as well.”

Ashley’s single, “Girl FYI,” has a personal connection and story.

“I was in a situation where a guy was dating both me and another girl, and she didn’t know about me and I didn’t know about her,” she said. “So I wrote a song to say, ‘Girl, FYI, I am just letting you know, we deserve better than this.’”

Ashley said she is still trying to develop her own sound. She names Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood as inspiration to incorporate female empowerment in music.

“I think that if girls don’t support girls, then how can we expect anybody else to support us? I think it is one of the most awesome things to have females lifting each other up,” she said.

In 2020, Ashley won third place for best female artist with the Texas Internet Radio Organization. She earned new female vocalist of the year honors from Texas Regional Radio in 2021, and female artist of the year from the Texas Country Music Association.

When Ashley was pondering career pursuits, Dyer said she had faith her daughter would choose music because she knew that was the right path for her.

“I just feel like she is really good at what she does and I want more people to hear her and give her a chance,” Dyer said. “I feel deep down there is a future for her, and it is going to go somewhere because I believe in her talent.”

In 2022, Ashley plans to recruit a band to perform with. Her next scheduled concert is April 9 at the Canteen Bar and Grill in College Station.

Looking long-term, Ashley said she dreams of performing at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville. And she advised anyone who is pursuing their dreams to never give up.

“Keep going,” she said, “and don’t let what people say bog you down. And don’t let doors that close in your face get you down either, because ultimately hard work and consistency will help you achieve your goals.”

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