Ayla Brown is a 29-year-old Nashvillian who, like many in this town, boasts an impressive musical résumé. She’s performed for the United States military in 13 different countries. She’s performed alongside orchestras throughout the States, has made her Grand Ole Opry debut, and as a 17 year old, she placed 13th on American Idol. But this February will be one for the books. The Massachusetts-native has been granted the prestigious honor of singing the National Anthem during the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Brown will perform two 15-minute sets during the men’s and women’s hockey games.
For Brown, the bubbly personality is bursting at the seams with excitement at the opportunity to perform for her country. “I’m not nervous at all,” she says. “I’m more excited to share my music with people all over the world.”
Kacey Bellamy is the sister of Brown's boyfriend and will be representing the United States on the women’s hockey team. Filled with the desire to see Bellamy perform in person, Brown began to conceptualize a plan that would not only get her to South Korea, but would also boost her music career: she would find a way to perform.
“It’s funny because there was no audition process,” she says. “It was months of brainstorming and trying to find the right person to contact. But I found the right person, sent them my press kit, and the rest kind of unfolded from there.”
Brown has called Nashville home for the past seven years. Several months after graduating from Boston College, which she attended on a full basketball scholarship, the singer loaded her car and made her way to Music City where she has lived happily as a Southern transplant.
“I remember the first time I ever sang in Nashville,” Brown says, diving into a story about her first visit to town, during which she toured the visitor's bureau and handed out some singing clips. She made it to the ground floor of the building when she received a call offering her the chance to perform with the Nashville Symphony Orchestra for the city’s Fourth of July celebration.
“I want to pour my heart and soul into (singing), and that’s pretty much what I’ve done for seven years.”
Despite her success, Brown remains humble and level-headed, buzzing throughout the interview about her excitement to visit South Korea. In her downtime, the part-time travel agent will tour different sites organized for her by the Olympic Committee, meet multicultural choir students and spend time with the hockey teams.
“It’s kind of a 'pinch me' moment,” Brown says. “I’m really excited just to be a sponge and take everything in while I’m over there.”