Born and raised in Massachusetts, Ashley Jordan and her siblings spent summers as children in the Ozarks listening to country music, including songs by her talented musician granddad.
Now it seems the talent has more than rubbed off.
Jordan, who rose from a busking 13-year-old guitar player to become an award-winning recording artist and a Grammy nominee, has been compared to major stars such as legendary hitmaker Desmond Child.
Now, the rising country star is set to make her Foxboro debut in her own show Friday night, Aug. 2 at the Marilyn Rodman Performing Arts Center (formerly the Orpheum). She’ll be with her full band and there will be supporting acts.
“When I was invited to perform at the MRC/Orpheum Theater, my management and I went to the theater and met with an incredible group of people including Bob Hickey and Chrissie and Rob Worth,” Jordan, 27, said recently via email. “We immediately loved the theater and the people! It is a location that is different than what I often perform in (music venues, festivals, etc.) but there’s something cool about the Orpheum Theatre and its history and beauty.”
Country music isn’t something new in Foxboro, of course, as Gillette Stadium has played host to many of Nashville’s biggest stars. And on Aug. 17, George Strait and Blake Shelton will perform at the home of the New England Patriots.
Jordan knows what it’s like to play in front of big audiences, having been chosen to perform during Boston’s Mixfest before an enthusiastic throng of 40,000 country fans. She’s also recorded four well-received albums including her latest, “He’s Crazy.” The heart-tugging video “Come Home,” featuring Jordan and her real-life Marine boyfriend, dramatizes the pain of separation for military families.
Jordan didn’t exactly start out life seeking the limelight.
“I was a really shy kid when I was younger,” she said. “I was always afraid that people were looking at me — lol! Then one day I bravely went on stage at school for a talent show and belted out an Avril Lavigne song (much to the surprise of my family) and I got the ‘bug.’”
Jordan soon picked up a guitar, taught herself to play and started performing at open mics. She found a mentor in well-known Boston street performer John Gerard who encouraged Jordan and performed with her for years.
Always under the watchful eye of her parents, the teen received increasing appreciation from passersby and, eventually, from promoters.
“I got a lot of money thrown in my guitar case — along with a lot of other strange gifts like cigarettes, guitar pics and trinkets,” Jordan said. “But I also got business cards and offers to come play inside at venues. So that’s how I started getting shows! I really feel that street-performing shaped the kind of performer I would eventually be.”
After busking, Jordan’s world rapidly evolved from open mic performer to headliner to award-winning artist.
In 2013, she filmed a music video for her original song “If I Had You,” which was televised regularly on The Nashville Network. The tune was also selected as one of the Best of 2013 by Boston radio station Mix 104.1
In 2015, her single “Angels” received a first round Grammy nomination in the pop-solo category. That same year she was selected as Best Female Vocalist and Best Solo-Acoustic Act by Pulse Magazine. In 2018, she won a record six Pulse awards including Country Artist of the Year and Best Album.
While her recording career is taking off, Jordan feels most energized in front of a live audience, as anyone who has seen an outtake of Mixfest on her website can attest.
“The energy of the crowd helps so much,” she said. “But honestly, the energy of my band is the first thing I feed from. If we’re rocking it out and I turn to my bass player or fiddler, or whoever and we start jamming together, it just really gets me moving.”
Many of Jordan’s songs are about relationships — a subject high on the list of 20-somethings like her, but also something all audiences can relate to.
“I guess I write about what’s going on in my life,” she said. “I’ve always admitted that listening to a lot of my music is like reading my diary. But not all of it — so I don’t want people to always worry that a particular song is about me or someone I know… If I follow my true heart, my music will be about things that impact me and emotionally hit me in some way.”