Ashley Monroe Talks ‘The Covers’ and the Fight Against Cancer – Billboard


For Ashley Monroe, music has always proven to be an emotional balm, a creative vessel, an avenue to chronicle the ebbs and flows of life.

After her father died when Monroe was just 13, she found solace performing and channeling her grief into her own songs (several of which would later be included on her 2018 album sparrow) — but she also turned to familiar tunes, such as Extreme’s “More Than Words,” for solace.

“It was my favorite song when I watched my dad die when I was 13, and then I started singing some more,” she says. Billboard. “Whenever someone at school or at a party said, ‘Sing something, Monroe,’ that’s who I would go to.”

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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 as part of 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, out 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 recalled. “We started talking about some of our favorite songs and I told him that I’d like to cover the songs that are on every playlist I do. I feel like they’re just deep inside. my soul at this point, because I leaned on them so much 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.” “We wanted to keep it simple and not add a lot to it. I wanted to put in the background vocals, because I love to sing background vocals, and all the background vocals on all these songs are so important.

Singer-songwriter Brittney Spencer joins Monroe on a version of Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You” – a song Monroe remembers loving as a child, but also one that 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 were a lot alike and we liked the same kind of music, the same kind of songwriting “, says Monroe. “Later we texted how much we love Bryan Adams’ music and I asked her if she would do a cover with me. She came into the studio and we were sitting on a couch next to him. practicing, singing it – and it’s funny because we met eyes and you could just feel a deep soul connection, like we’d been singing for years, our voices knew exactly how to follow each other.

Ruston Kelly invites on a rendition of “Love Hurts,” the power ballad made famous by the Everly Brothers in the ’60s and then Nazareth in the ’70s. The two have written songs together before, and Monroe says Kelly has it. contacted after the release of her album Rose gold in April 2021: “We kind of picked up where we left off. I love his voice so much. Even when we’re writing, you can tell our voices can blend really well.

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

Although she started working on Covers EP before her diagnosis, Monroe says the recording process served as emotional therapy. “It was nice to have something to look forward to coming out that’s new, it’s from the bottom of 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 at that time.

She also offers an update on her treatment, saying, “I feel great right now. I had two rounds of chemo. The first round was more difficult than the second. The third is two days before my 35th birthday. Prepare yourself mentally, you know it’s going to 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 bounce back.

“This process kind of puts life on hold in a lot of ways. I can’t be around people, so I don’t write a lot and don’t really record like I would like,” Monroe continues, noting that she just returned from an afternoon of sailing with her husband. “The biggest danger of doing chemo is just not getting sick with anything 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 germaphobic before the pandemic, then I was germaphobic and pandemic by the pandemic,” she says. Now I have cancer and my immune system is weak. So when my immune system grows back, I think I’m really going to let go of my fear of germs for a bit. I think I’ve officially maxed out the fear of germs.

She adds, “When I was feeling good, before chemo and all that, and before I got anemic, I would jump out of bed, feeling good, but also worried about things like ‘I need to vacuum’ or something else. It’s really just noise when you take that off and get down to the basics of what matters. Now I just enjoy the moments. It really opens my eyes to how I’m going to be after all of this too. Just to appreciate 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 announced that the trio are once again collaborating on music. Although Monroe is tight-lipped on the specifics, she says, “We’ve definitely worked on something and I think people will find out sooner or later what it is.” We’re all excited about it.

See the track list 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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