Ashley O'Keefe, a Madison resident, has earned a platinum album and won a songwriting title since moving to Nashville. She served as grand marshal of Madison's Christmas parade. Ashley O'Keefe, a 2009 graduate of Madison Central, is finding success as a singer/songwriter in Nashville. Ashley O'Keefe received a platinum record for co-writing the song "Lonely One" that appeared on Luke Combs' album "This One's For You."
Ashley O'Keefe, a Madison resident, has earned a platinum album and won a songwriting title since moving to Nashville. She served as grand marshal of Madison's Christmas parade. Ashley O'Keefe, a 2009 graduate of Madison Central, is finding success as a singer/songwriter in Nashville. Ashley O'Keefe received a platinum record for co-writing the song "Lonely One" that appeared on Luke Combs' album "This One's For You."
There’s a platinum record hanging on the wall in Ashley O’Keefe’s Nashville apartment.

Just like she knew there would be eventually. 

The 26-year-old Madison native co-wrote the song “Lonely One” with Luke Combs that is on his 2017 debut album “This One’s for You.” The album achieved platinum status with over one million sales a few months ago, and O’Keefe received the first in what many in Madison believe will be a long line of awards.

“It’s crazy but I had this moment – I’ll never forget – before the success of Luke’s album. I had just moved into my first tiny apartment by myself for the first time -- no furniture, just a bed and that’s it. I was so happy and I knew one day I’d put a platinum record on that wall, and a year and a half later, I did.

“Records don’t usually go platinum that quickly,” she said. “I worked hard on it, and Luke’s song has definitely given me credibility. It makes the record labels pay attention.”

 O’Keefe, a 2009 graduate of Madison Central, served as the grand marshal of Madison’s Christmas parade on Saturday, and she was introduced at the awards ceremony afterward by Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler as the next Faith Hill. O’Keefe told the crowd, after listening to the choirs from Madison Avenue upper and lower elementary schools, that she was proud to have been a part of that choir growing up.

“It thrilled my heart when she said she sang in the Madison Avenue choir, and now she is a successful artist and songwriter in Nashville with a platinum record,” Butler said. “The children of Madison have heard me say many times, dream big. And Ashley did.  Ashley exemplifies what you can accomplish when you work hard and never give up on your dreams. Ashley is an example that dreams do come true.” 

 O’Keefe, the daughter of Keith and Donna O’Keefe, moved to Nashville four years ago, not knowing anyone, after graduating from Mississippi State University. She is determined to make it as a singer and songwriter, and she works hard at her craft to make it happen. “I want to be an artist, but what sets you apart is being a songwriter.

“It’s what I’m good at. I’ve always been a writer of poems and stories and heard melodies in my head,” she said. 

O’Keefe also co-wrote “Fairy Tale Dress” that won the 2017 NSAI Song Contest presented by CMT over more than 2,000 other entries, a recognition that she says has definitely opened more doors for her. The video of the song, performed by co-writer John Gurney, was released on CMT this fall. 

“I’m very proud of the work I’m doing,” O’Keefe said. “I don’t do it for the recognition. I want people to hear my songs and listen to the words and feel something.

“As songwriters, we are the voice of the people who don’t know how to write music or express themselves,” O’Keefe said. “All I’ve ever wanted to do is create music that makes people feel something, and I’m thankful for the chance to do that.”

O’Keefe has been concentrating on her songwriting. Since arriving in Nashville, she estimates she has written 150-200 songs. “I have an idea, and it just comes out,” she said. 

She writes daily and has co-writing sessions scheduled with other writers for the next several months. As all songwriters do in Nashville, O’Keefe frequents “songwriter rounds” where a small group of songwriters gather in front of an audience to perform their songs and share how they came to write them. “These are literally on any day of the week,” she said.

She is preparing to release her first EP, a musical recording that will have her performing five of her songs sometime early in 2019.  “This is your first impression as an artist, and what sets you apart from the rest.”

O’Keefe performs under the name Erin Ashley and writes songs as Erin Ashley O’Keefe.

Hopefully, O’Keefe said, her as-yet-untitled EP will lead to a record deal. The producer for this upcoming release will be Benjy Davis, the first person she met in Nashville and the first person she co-wrote a song with just a few days later. “With Benjy, I’ve come full circle,” she said.

In the next three to five years, O’Keefe said she sees herself writing more songs under a good publishing deal and on tour with a major artist. 

“I’m on the path to do that.”

To keep up with O’Keefe’s career, follow her on Instagram @ErinAshleyMusic.