Local singer embraces evolution of country music

By: Mary Kate Dorr – Asst. A&E Editor

Dayton may not be as popular for aspiring actors, singers and bands as Los Angeles or New York, but that doesn’t mean incredible talent isn’t in Ohio. Dayton native Ashley Martin is a local country artist, and she’s beginning to gain national recognition from central Ohio.

She will be performing shows throughout Dayton this December, including one at The Phone Booth on Saturday in Kettering, Ohio. Her full schedule is available on her website, ashleymartinmusic.com.

Singing has always been a part of Martin’s life. She was born into a family choir and was given her first solo in the choir when she was six years old. Martin continued to sing and participated in theater productions during her childhood, but as she grew, so did her career. At 12 years old, she was singing karaoke in retirement homes and by 16, she was working in a DJ facility. With such a musical background, it is no surprise that her first band was formed when she was 19 years old.

Martin was influenced by several country artists growing up, naming Reba McIntyre and Garth Brooks as two of her favorites. She admired Brooks for the energy he presented on stage and believes they have similar performance styles. Martin has also been influenced by Celine Dion’s power and Christina Aguilera’s control.

Martin embraces the ever-evolving aspect of country music.

“The CMAs this year were the perfect display of that,” Martin said. She describes her band’s style as more alternative, as country music is beginning to progress stylistically toward pop and rock.

She describes her current show as “fun, with good music that tells a story.”

“That’s what I love about country music,” Martin said. “Pop says the same line over and over and over again.”

Martin writes all of her music, with the exception of one song she co-wrote. In 2014 she will have played 170 shows, 80 of them outside of Ohio.

The show is promoting her album, “Put on a Show,” released last February.

Fans of Martin can expect a lot at her shows, including new material as well as strong, three-piece harmonies. She also does a few covers but tries to really change the song to make it a new piece. She plays both electric and acoustic guitar.

For the upcoming year, Martin plans to release a new single on the first of every month so that by the end of the year, she will have a full-length record with 12 tracks. The set will be performed at shows and available on iTunes, Google Play and most likely Spotify.

“I was trying to think of a way to keep people wanting new music,” Martin said. “It’s really tricky to keep people engaged.”

Martin hopes the songs will grow with every month. The first single that will be released Jan. 1, 2015 is titled “If You Knew Anything about a Girl.”

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