Kassi Ashton is one of country music’s brightest (and most badass) new stars. She has over 179,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and she hasn’t even put out an album yet. She’s part of a new generation of females in country music and it all started in her small town of California, Missouri.
“I grew up between split parents. Mom lived in town and dad lived on a farm outside of town,” she says. At mom’s house, it was all about competitive dance but things were different at her dad’s house where “deer season is bigger than Christmas… I was always polar opposites and I liked it that way. I always wanted to be just as much one as I was the other.”
She knew from a young age that she wanted to be an artist. She wanted to connect with people through a show with song and dance. That’s something she never deferred from. Since there wasn’t a lot of opportunity in her town, she was always traveling to the next opportunity. Fast forward to high school graduation and Ashton had no plans of going to college. She wanted to move to Nashville and pursue her dreams of music. Her grandmother didn’t give her a choice and she landed at Belmont, which changed her life forever.
Belmont University is where Ashton learned to co-write, something she never intended to try. It was that songwriting journey that led her to a huge co-write with Luke Laird and Barry Dean. And that was just her first co-writing session outside of college. “I got spoiled,” she says with a laugh.
Ashton eventually signed a publishing deal and then a record deal with UMG Nashville in conjunction with Interscope Records. The buzz around her was big enough to catch the eye of Keith Urban, who asked her to join him for his song, “Drop Top.” She was back home when she got the call from the country superstar.
“I had to stand in a doorway and not move in order to not hang up on Keith Urban. It was just the weirdest, most surreal thing,” Ashton says. She was staring out at her dad’s field while talking to him — the same field where she’d serenade the cows growing up.
Since then, the singer-songwriter has continued to release a handful of songs. Her most recent, “Field Party,” has generated a lot of attention from country music fans — and new fans who previously had no interest in the genre.
“It has literally been ridiculous. It’s gotten more attention than any song I’ve put out just because the beat makes people want to dance.”
Now that she’s going on her first tour, as support for Maren Morris on the Girl The World Tour, she’ll have more opportunities to expand people’s musical interest. When asked about the tour, the “Violins” singer couldn’t contain her excitement. “It’s like trying to keep your feet planted where you are and your brain explodes with fireworks and confetti.”
She is managing to keep her feet planted thanks to lots of tour prep, despite the fact that she’s “trying not to think about it too much.” She’s running, doing cardio, watching Beyoncé‘s documentary on Netflix and making a different tour outfit for every single stop.
Aside from tour prep, Ashton is also contemplating the best time to release an album (something fans ask her about a lot).
“I am an album girl, first of all… I want to do that but, as for now, I haven’t even went to radio yet. So I’m just trying to reveal layers of myself and find my fans and introduce them to multiple sides of me, not just one picture and one song. I’m really waiting for a right time to put out a whole project… I feel like [the first album] can be the most personal because you have so many years of stories for songs.”
So although she has no date (yet), that’s where she’s heading. The beauty of this era of country music (which she’s dubbed the “Wild West for Women”) is that she can do that and it’s perfectly acceptable. After all, these new females in country are really changing the game.
“We’re at the bottom. We broke down, we’re here. I am in the class of ladies that get to make the new rules that get to say, ‘This is how we’re going to do it.’ There’s no rules, there’s no boxes.”
That no-nonsense attitude is one of the many reasons we’re crazy about Ashton. She came from humble beginnings, has worked her ass of and has no intentions of stopping. She’s creating her own music, her own fashion and she even has a hand in her merch. No matter what we hear from Ashton in the future, we know she’s not straying from who she is and we will always support that.