Hailing from Los Angeles by way of Nashville, singer, songwriter, and performer Ashlyne Huff is an engaging new voice on the contemporary music scene, with a vocal prowess and gift for songwriting you usually only find in veteran artists. Signed to Liquid Digital Media — a division of Anderson Companies — Huff will release her debut album next year. She co-wrote every song on it and the result is a stellar pop effort that showcases her flair for storytelling. “The songs are pop, but I’m from Nashville, I write like a country singer,” Huff says with a laugh. “I’m inspired to do three things in my songs: Change a bad mood into a good one, represent an experience in a relationship that anyone’s had, and let whomever is listening know that he or she is not alone feeling the way they do about it.”
The result is a collection that captures a range of moods and emotions, like the spunky first single, “Heart of Gold,” which calls out a relationship-phobic guy and lets him know what he’s missing out on. “I write about what I know, and what I don’t know,” Huff says. “Not all of my songs are about things that have happened to me, but they deal with things I’ve thought about a lot and want to get out of my system.”
Huff’s urge to express herself through songwriting is not surprising given her family background — music is in her blood. Her father, Dann Huff, is an in-demand producer and session guitarist who has produced albums by Keith Urban and Rascal Flatts and performed on hits by Michael Jackson, Madonna, and Faith Hill, while her grandfather, Ronn Huff was a sought-after arranger on Nashville’s contemporary Christian music scene. Ashlyne was born in Glendale, CA, where she took naps in the music studios where her father was working. “The noise was soothing to me,” she says. “I couldn’t sleep in silence. My parents would put me in the car and drive me around with my dad’s music on full-blast and I’d fall asleep instantly.”
The Huff family moved to Nashville when Ashlyne was five, which was when she got bit by the performing bug. “I was watching Full House and Jodie Sweetin’s character danced to the B-52s’ ‘Love Shack.’ That one episode changed my life. I decided to be a dancer.” Huff began dance lessons at the age of seven and took it very seriously. “It was my sport; it was my life,” she says. At age 11, she joined the Opryland Kids Club in the final year that the theme park was open, and realized she’d have to be able to sing if she wanted to continue to perform as a dancer. “I was actually afraid to sing because people came in and out of my dad’s studio who could sing really well,” Huff recalls. “But I did it and wound up singing all through high school.”
After graduating, Huff enrolled at Nashville’s Belmont University to get a degree in Music Business. “I studied publishing and copyright law and thought maybe I’d go into production,” she says. “I used to do my homework in the studio with my dad and I liked the atmosphere and loved being around musicians. I learned how to use all the equipment, like Pro Tools, and started editing my own dance songs at 13. It was like my computer game. While everyone else was playing Nintendo, I was playing Pro Tools.”
While attending college, Huff’s love for songwriting blossomed. “My dad had told me when I was 12 that I would never be a writer unless I had something to say,” she recalls. “At 19, I went through a bad breakup and I decided to write a song about it just to get my feelings out. Then I thought, ‘What if I could help someone going through the same thing? I’d feel better if I knew something I wrote helped someone else.’ From then on, I was hooked.”
In December 2006, Huff was approached by Anderson Merchandisers — one of the nation’s largest distributors of pre-recorded music, movies, and books, which services retail stores throughout the U.S. The company was launching its own record label, Liquid Digital Media, and wanted Huff to be its first signing. Huff agreed if she could begin recording after she graduated from college the following year. Meanwhile, she auditioned for and won a part as a dancer in LeAnn Rimes’ video for “Nothin’ Better To Do.” A year later, she re-enacted the performance along with Rimes and the other dancers at the CMT Awards. “It was a great experience,” Huff says. “I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.” It was also the last time she found herself dancing behind another artist.
In early 2008, a song Huff co-wrote with Tommy Lee James and Stefanie Ridel, entitled “I’m Done,” appeared on the Pussycat Dolls’ latest album Doll Domination. Also last year, she began collaborating with songwriter/producers Mike Busbee and Mathias Wollo on the tracks that will appear on her debut album, which will be released in early 2010. In the meantime, Huff continues to attract fans with her powerhouse voice, upbeat personality, and relatable songs. “I really think there’s something for everyone in my songs, no matter how old you are,” Huff says. “I just can’t wait for people to hear them.”