Ashley Monroe to bring country music to Newton


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  • Photo provided Ashley Monroe, from country supergroup Pistol Annies, will perform at the Newton Theatre on Friday, July 11.



Ashley Monroe, from country supergroup Pistol Annies, will perform at the Newton Theatre on Friday, July 11 at 8 p.m.

Upon hearing Ashley Monroe, most folks instantly recognize one thing: she’s the real deal. Her songs reflect the experiences of an artist who has already seen both the best and worst that life has to offer, at just 26 years old.

Monroe has been creating music for more than half of her life — attracting along the way kudos from such music world giants as Dolly Parton, Guy Clark, Vince Gill and Jack White. At times her songs are dead serious, at others utterly hilarious, but always Monroe is an original with a compelling story.

“It took a lot to get here. It’s been a long, hard road,” she says.

When she was 11, Monroe won a talent contest singing "I Want To Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart" and two years later her father gave Monroe her first guitar. She developed a passion for writing songs, discovering that she could easily communicate her thoughts and sentiments through a six-string and her voice.

Then Monroe's beloved dad was diagnosed with cancer and died not long thereafter, upending the young girl’s world. Monroe was 13 and watched helplessly as her mother, “went crazy for a little while,” as Monroe puts it. “There’s a lot of story there — when I say it out loud I’m still kind of shocked.”

Monroe immersed herself in her music.

“After he died I started writing all the sadness out,” she says. “That was my therapy, my outlet. There was no way I could have held all that in.”

Once her mother was back on her feet, they moved to Nashville so that Monroe could pursue her dream. Within a year Monroe had signed a song publishing deal, secured a recording contract and released a single, "Satisfied," a sizable hit that put Monroe on the map. Then another roadblock: After a merger her record label declined to release her already-recorded album. Although the album found a home on iTunes, Monroe, only 20, was, in a sense, back where she’d started.

She didn’t let that stop her though, and with hard work and determination, Monroe kept honing her craft and putting herself in front of anyone who would listen. Her fan base grew steadily and fellow artists began to notice.

In 2008, Monroe cut a highly praised EP and a few years later, at the invitation of Jack White, she sang background vocals on an album he was producing by the iconic country-rockabilly singer Wanda Jackson. And with her versatility she also contributed vocals to the track Bruises on the 2012 album California 37 by the rock band Train.

One of Monroe's most rewarding artistic adventures has been the Pistol Annies, a trio she co-formed in 2011 with her friend Miranda Lambert, whose chart-topping hit Heart Like Mine Ashley co-penned, and newcomer Angaleena Presley. Their album, "Hell on Heels," garnered rave reviews. Monroe says, “There’s a chemistry that happens with the three of us together and it’s the strangest thing. It’s a sacred thing to me.”

Her new album serves both to fill in the back story and impart to us who she is today. "Like a Rose," produced by country music titan Vince Gill and containing a duet with Blake Shelton, offers the full range of Monroe’s songwriting and performing skills.

Tickets for Ashley Monroe are $29 for premium seating, $24 for orchestra and $19 for balcony. Purchase tickets by visiting www.thenewtontheatre.com or contact the box office at 973-383-3700.

The historic Newton Theatre, located at 234 Spring Street in Newton, N.J.

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