by: SPOKESMAN PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Ashley Wyatt graduates from Horizon Christian High School this year. From there, she plans to explore her vast music potential starting with her debut record released last month at the McMenamins Old Church. Wilsonville teen Ashley Wyatt recently joined the ranks of musicians discovered on YouTube with her release of a four-song debut record “Beautifully Made.”

It’s too early to tell how her career will turn out. But Wyatt is certainly off to an encouraging start.

“I started doing U2 covers my freshman year,” Wyatt said during a recent interview at the McMenamin’s Old Church, where she held her record release party. “So I had a YouTube channel and I’d put up songs I would like, and a producer from California watched one of my covers and he liked my voice and thought it was different than what he’d heard.”

That producer was Shannon McArthur, co-owner of Research Sound and Music, a Burbank, Calif., studio that boasts an impressive roster of music industry clients including Plain White T’s, Kristian Bush of Sugarland and Wild Feathers.

McArthur also is known to scour YouTube in search of the next Justin Bieber, who is perhaps the most well-known artist to have used the site as a springboard to fame.

“He just messaged me on YouTube, and at first I was skeptical,” Wyatt said.

This being the music industry, notorious for its shady promoters, broken promises and dashed hopes, Ashley was not alone. Her parents had their doubts, but were quickly able to confirm that Research Sound and Music indeed was the same outfit that has worked with major label recording artists and major television productions, even Keeping up with the Kardashians.

“My mom made sure he was legit,” Wyatt said. “We found out he was the real deal, so we got in contact and I started writing four songs over Skype with him. It was me and him writing the songs over Skype, and I went down in August and we took a week and just recorded everything.”

It was an invaluable experience at the heart of the industry for a budding musician with little previous exposure to professionals.

“I didn’t even realize how many times you had to sing a certain part over and over again,” Wyatt laughed. “But it was really fun for me to get in the studio and have that experience now. And it came out really well; the songs turned out better than I thought they would.”

For Ashley’s parents, it was a means of discovering just how serious their daughter is about music as a profession. After all, long hours in a high-end studio are a far cry from the school choir — Wyatt’s only prior performing experience.

“It was my way of finding out how bad she wanted to do it,” said Teresa Wyatt. “It all looks glamorous and fun until you have to get in and do the work.”

McArthur and Wyatt kept the record to four songs.

“That’s how much we wrote,” Wyatt said. “We came up with concepts that I’d like and he’d go write the lyrics from there.”

Her favorite track on the new record is an upbeat number called “No Ifs Ands or Buts.”

“Because it’s fun,” she explained. “The title track is also fun; but they’re all my favorites.”

Wyatt may not be breaking new ground with her sound. But her upbeat pop, as she terms it, treads comfortable ground, sort of like a favorite sweatshirt. She counts Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran, the English 23-year-old Grammy nominee, among her biggest influences.

And it shows.

“It’s kind of like upbeat pop, maybe more folk-pop,” Wyatt said, looking for just the right terms. “I wanted it to be like something you hear on Z100, that was kind of my goal.”

In the future, Wyatt hopes to pursue a career in music. To get there she plans not only to continue recording and performing, but she’ll be attending the Linfield College School of Music starting this fall. It’s a busy time, and Wyatt could not be enjoying it more.

“I think I want to play at some fairs and local festivals and stuff, just to get my name out there and take on the opportunities I can,” she said. “I have a pretty open summer, so it’s dedicated to getting my name out there as much as possible.”

Considering she just wrapped up her first live performance, sold nearly 100 copies of her new record and sold out the Old Church in the process, it’s a good start.

“We packed out the place, not everyone could get in and I thought that was a good sign,” she said. “My goal would be to write an album and release an album that has more than four songs — just getting my name out there.”



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