By Paley Martin
For Kassi Ashton, “California, Missouri” isn’t just the name of her new single — it’s the place that defines both who she is and who she is not.
A daughter to split parents, Ashton was just as comfortable competing in beauty pageants and dancing classical ballet when she was with her mom as she was hunting and riding dirt bikes with her dad. But that didn’t mean that she fit in. “I graduated with 86 sheep, I was the black one,” Ashton sings of her upbringing in the small Missouri city. “If there was a reputation to be out in this town, I had the bad one.”
In “California, Missouri,” the country singer-songwriter paints a picture of being an outcast in a place where growth and open-mindedness are limited. A place where she feels misunderstood. But Ashton, now living full-time in Nashville, sees the town as more of a memory, a part of who she is, than somewhere by which she feels victimized.
California, Missouri may have tried to stifle Ashton, but it only furthered her creativity. At 15, she began singing and songwriting, which she went on to pursue in college. It was at Belmont College that she was able to flex her vocals at an arena showcase and ultimately end up meeting her publisher.
In the winter of 2017, Ashton signed her deal with Universal Music Group Nashville and Interscope and is slated to deliver more music this year. Leaving her California, Missouri misgivings behind, Ashton gives the town a nod in her own way. It’s not your typical country hometown homage, but it’s your typical, unapologetic Kassi Ashton. “I was born in the wrong place in the wrong time,” she sings. “But sometimes the wrong way makes you the right kind.”
Stay tuned this week for Ashton’s TIDAL Q&A and guest-curated “California, Missouri” playlist.