McBryde is coming off a big win. At the 2023 GRAMMY Awards, she won her first GRAMMY for ‘Country Duo/Group Performance’ for her song “Never Wanted To Be That Girl” with Carly Pearce. The moment happened during the pre-tells at the award show. She was sitting with her sister and asked her if she should put her purse on the ground or have her hold it, when she heard her name called. She thought when they’d announce the winner they would mention the song name first, not the artists’ names, so the moment caught her by surprise. Once she heard her name, she started screaming expletives and ran down the long aisle that led to the stage, grateful she had so much faith in the dress she was wearing that night.
Back in 2020, or as McBryde called it, “the year we don’t mention,” her and songwriters Connie Harrington and Jessi Alexander sat down for the first time together that year to start working on new music. As they started to throw phrases out to try and spark an idea for a song, Alexander said, “a light on in the kitchen,” and that got them thinking. How could such a simple phrase and everyday occurrence have so much meaning? They realized that leaving a light on in the kitchen represents comfort. It’s where problem solving, crying, life lessons, love, heartbreak and memories all happen. Leaving a light on for someone means you’re thinking of them, whether they’re coming home or not. While writing the song, they all reflected on the women in their lives who comforted them by giving them advice and knowing they always had a place to go. The song shows how important that simple act is.
McBryde sent the song to her family members, who she said are never too shy to tell you how they truly feel, and it became a new family saying for them. Instead of saying I love you, or I’m thinking about you, they’ll say “I’ll leave the light on for you.” She even received a text from her aunt who lives in Michigan that said, “You’re about to go on stage, I’m going to bed. I’ll leave the light on.” It’s a simple phrase that holds so much comfort knowing someone is thinking about you. Co-writer Alexander even said she wrote the song in mind with advice she wants to give her teenage daughter.
McBryde knew when she was making her third record she wanted “Light On In The Kitchen” to be on it, but she didn’t choose it as a single at first. She debated multiple other songs to be the lead single until someone suggested “Light On In the Kitchen,” and she went for it. When she released it, she didn’t expect the amount of feedback she’d get from people telling her the song made them think of passed loved ones. When looking through the comment section, so many people were saying they had lost a family member and felt like they were with them again listening to the song. People saying they’d give anything to hear their mom say, “Sure honey,” and sit down and talk with them at the kitchen table. McBryde isn’t trying to hurt anyone's feelings or make them upset with her new song, she’s hoping it helps them and gives them comfort.
McBryde is from Mammoth Spring, Arkansas and grew up in a musical household. She said everyone sang and played an instrument for fun, and her grandmother taught her how to play her first guitar chord. At first, McBryde tried learning how to play the mandolin, but admits still to this day she’s not good at it. It wasn’t until she picked up a guitar and started to play that she chose to stick with music. She would sing around her house but was too shy to sing in public. Occasionally she would sing at the local shopping center and then eventually started joining in on jam sessions at Bluegrass Festivals and play alongside master musicians who would teach her new chords. As McBryde tried to find her sound and place in music, her mom was the person who encouraged her the most to keep going. She eventually started to play gigs in Memphis, where she’d have to learn song requests on the spot, earning her the nickname “Lady Jukebox.” During those shows, she’d tell the people in the crowd a decade and say they have to request a song that came out within that time frame. It was a good way for her to learn more than just country songs and make money from tips. Bobby Bones put McBryde’s jukebox skills to the test and asked her to cover Deana Carter’s “Strawberry Wine,” Brooks & Dunn’s “Neon Moon” and The Chicks “Wide Open Spaces,” while in studio.
Before the interview ended, Amy asked McBryde how she protects her good energy. She said she practices gratitude every morning and has been really working on remaining present. She tries to focus on what’s in front of her and not worry about what might be happening later in the day, or tomorrow. She knows she can’t be her best if her mind is wandering to something else and not focused on the present moment.
Tickets are available at AshleyMcBryde.com.