When Ashley Cooke took to the BBC Radio 2 stage in the Indigo O2 at Country 2 Country this year, you could hear a pin drop as the crowd listened attentively, hanging off her every word. There was little room to move as people packed out the place, eager to see the Florida native at her first UK performances. The songstress who has toured with Jordan Davis and Cole Swindle and has a chart hit, ‘Never Til Now’ with Brett Young was ecstatic to be here. Cooke kickstarted her career at Belmont University after entering a country showcase. She has gone on to make an impact as an influencer on TikTok where she has gained notoriety stateside. I caught up with her after her set in the Indigo to find out how her UK trip was going.
How did you find your first UK performance?
Honestly, I think the crazy part for me is the audience is so attentive, like in the States, it’s so not like that, with a crowd that packed, you wouldn’t play slow songs, you wouldn’t play anything other than the party, drinking songs. Here, people really care, in the meet and greet afterwards, people would say, I love that new song, I love this song – they really paid attention and it was refreshing!
When did you first know that you wanted to be a musician?
I was really young. I wrote my first song when I was 11. I lived in California at the time, and I started playing shows. Getting up on stage and feeling the energy, performance is my favourite part about all of this and so I think when I was a kid getting to get up on stage and do that, I just knew it felt right.
Growing up what did your parents make you listen to and what are you choosing to listen to now?
My parents are very tone deaf. They loved motown but now I listen to a melting pot of stuff. I love country obviously, I love Ed Sheeran and a lot of pop music. I love singer-songwriter stuff and one of my favourite bands is LANY. I feel like I’m very much in the middle of pop country.
Where do you draw inspiration from in your lyrics?
It’s very rare that I write a song that I haven’t gone through myself. If I haven’t gone through it, somebody that I’m close to typically has. I’ll be talking to somebody and they’ll say something interesting and I think that’s really cool so I’ll write that down. I’m a big lyric person, I love lyrics. So for me, like in a songwriting session, it’s very lyric heavy, so I’ll do lyrics first and then melody afterwards.
Can you remember the first song you ever wrote?
Yes, it was so bad! It was about Fruit Loops, the tag line was like, be a fruit loop in a world of cheerios.
What’s been your proudest moment in your career so far?
I have to think about my Grand Ole Opry debut, or the first time that I heard people singing my music back to me. That was obviously only a couple months ago. It was like a radio show or something and I was playing my song ‘Never Til Now’ that I was singing and the crowd sang it back to me. I was like, what the heck and I backed up off the mic and they were singing it back to me. That’s the moment that I was like, okay, like something’s happening, it’s working, all this hard work is paying off.
What’s next for you?
I have a tour with Brett Young starting this month, then I have a tour with Luke Bryan starting in summer and then I have my debut album coming out this year. My first headlining tour myself so it’s a crazy year.