Ashley Monroe on ‘The Covers’ and Fight Cancer

Now with three Grammy nominations to her name – for her 2015 album The blade, her 2014 duet with Blake Shelton, “Lonely Tonight,” and her work with the Pistol Annies trio alongside Miranda Lambert and Angaleena Presley — Monroe revisits a handful of songs that have become enduring favorites on her five-song EP , Covers, released this week.

She teamed up with Tyler Cain, known for his work with Darius Rucker, Shaggy and Aloe Blacc, as well as her own acoustic single “Suitcase Heart”. “He had a new studio he was working on and invited me to come over,” Monroe recalls. “We started talking about some of our favorite songs and I told him that I would love to cover the songs that are on every playlist that I do. I feel like they’re just deep in my soul at this point, because I’ve leaned on them and listened to them so much in my life.

The first song on this list was the classic 1964 Beach Boys hit “Don’t Worry Baby”. and not add a lot to it. I wanted to put the backing vocals on, because I loved singing the backing vocals, and all the backing vocals on all of these songs are so important.

Singer-songwriter Brittney Spencer joins Monroe on version of Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” – a song Monroe remembers the love she had as a child , but also from a song she sang to her own son, Dalton, when he was an infant.

“I met Brittney a few months ago to write together, and the first time I met her it was clear that we looked a lot alike and we loved the same kind of music, the same kind of writing. “, says Monroe. “Later we were texting how much we loved Bryan Adams’ music and I asked her if she would be willing to do a cover with me. She walked into the studio and we were sitting on a couch having fun. to practice it, to sing it – and it’s funny because we crossed our eyes and you could just feel a deep soul connection, like we’ve been singing for years. Our voices knew exactly how to follow each other. “

Ruston Kelly invited on a rendition of “Love Hurts”, the powerful ballad first made famous by the Everly Brothers in the 60s, then Nazareth in the 70s. The two have written songs together before, and Monroe says that Kelly contacted her after the release of her album Rose gold in April 2021: “We kind of picked up where we left off. I love her voice so much. Even as we write you can tell that our voices can blend very well. “

With Covers EP, the music again became a comfort to Monroe. On July 13, Monroe revealed that she had been diagnosed with the rare blood cancer, Waldenström macroglobulinemia (WM), a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Initially, after doing routine blood work, Monroe was told she was anemic. A bone marrow biopsy quickly revealed the diagnosis of Waldenström’s macroglobulinemia.

Although she started working on Covers EP prior to her diagnosis, Monroe says the recording process served as emotional therapy. “It’s nice to have something to look forward to that is new, that is close to my heart,” she says. “I started these projects before my initial diagnosis, with the exception of ‘Everything I Do’. I knew the chemo was coming then.

She also offers an update on her treatment, saying, “I feel great right now. I had two cycles of chemo. The first round was harder than the second. The third is two days before my 35th birthday. You just mentally prepare yourself, you know it’s gonna suck, but do it anyway. So that’s kind of the phase I’m in right now – ready to not feel good afterwards, and then hopefully I’ll bounce back.

“This process kind of puts a stop to life in a lot of ways. I can’t be with people so I don’t really write a lot and I don’t really record the way I would like to be, “Monroe continues, noting that she has just returned from an afternoon of sailing with her husband. ”The biggest danger when you do chemo is just not to get sick with something else, because your immune system is so weak. So it feels good to share a piece of myself with this project, even during this weird season where everything is kind of frozen for a while. “

She says the experience has already changed her perspective in several ways.

“I was a germaphobe before the pandemic, then I was a germaphobic and pandemic by the pandemic,” she says. Now I have cancer and my immune system is weak. So when my immune system kicks back, I think I’m really going to let go of my fear of germs a bit. I think I’ve officially reached my maximum fear of germs. “

She adds, “When I was feeling fine, before the chemo and all that, and before I got anemic, I would jump out of bed feeling fine, but also worried about things like ‘I need to vacuum’ or something else. It’s really just the noise when you take that off, and go to the base of what matters. Now I just soak in moments. It really opens my eyes to how I’m going to be afterwards all that, too. Just to enjoy the moments you have, instead of worrying about what’s going to happen.

Monroe also has other happy moments to focus on. Monroe and her Pistol cohorts Annies Lambert and Presley previously teased that the trio were collaborating on music again. Although Monroe is silent on the details, she says, “We have definitely been working on something and I think people will know as soon as possible what it is. We’re all excited about it.

See the list of tracks for EP Covers below:

1. Don’t worry baby
2. Every breath you take
3. Everything I Do (with Brittney Spencer)
4. Love Hurts (with Ruston Kelly)
5. More than words

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About Eileen W. Sudduth

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