On The Homefront

Caitlyn Smith and Kassi Ashton Perform at Think Pink Party


Caitlyn Smith and Kassi Ashton perform for the Think Pink Party at Jilly’s Music Room in Akron on Wednesday, May 25. The event is part of WQMX’s Charity Concerts with proceeds benefiting their Bosom Buddies program which provides free mammograms for those area residents that would otherwise not be able to afford one.

The acoustic show starts at 7pm. Tickets are $20, with a limited number of VIP Meet & Greet tickets available for $30.

Caitlyn Smith

Caitlyn Smith grew up in the small town of Cannon Falls, Minnesota. By the age of 12, she was calling around to venues to book her own gigs and by 19, she had already produced three albums. Smith also started to make the 14-hour drive to Nashville on a regular basis. Her talents quickly made her one of Music City’s most sought after songwriters.

Among her long list of songwriting credits are songs recorded by Meghan Trainor (“Like I’m Gonna Lose You”, duet with John Legend, #1 on Billboard Adult Top 40 chart), Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton (“You Can’t Make Old Friends”), Kip Moore (“Chained”), Miley Cyrus (“High”), Garth Brooks (“Tacoma”), Jason Aldean (“It Ain’t Easy), Gabby Barrett (“Goldmine) and more.

She relaunched her own singing career and released the EP Starfire in July 2016. Her soulful voice and finely tuned lyrics quickly found her on television shows and being heralded in magazines like Billboard, who named her one of its SXSW Music Discovery in 2017 and Rolling Stone, who named her one of the “10 New Artists You Need to Know.”

She followed the success of Starfire with her 2020 release, Supernova. Her initial release started to paint the pictures and Supernova would continue on that path. But, in March 2020 the Covid pandemic left the promotion of the album is disarray. Smith and her family left Nashville for her home state of Minnesota, seeking a place of quiet and space to decompress during the pandemic. She found solace in writing and kept her mind occupied with a collection of new songs.

Her latest release, High, which was released on April 8th was the result. The 8-song album is the first part of her tw0-part project High & Low, with the second half scheduled for release later this year

The result is the airy, dreamy eight-track album High, which came out April 8 via Monument Records. The album is the first half of the two-part project High & Low, with the second half slated for release later this year.

“We are almost finished with the rest of the album. On the second half of the album, it will be more of the gritty songs. You can’t have the high without the low,” Smith stated in an interview last month.

Kassi Ashton

Born and raised in the small town of California, Missouri, Kassi Ashton grew up as a down-home girl with big-city dreams. She released her first radio single, “Dates in Pickup Trucks” in February of this year. The song which was co-written by Ashton, along with Luke Laird (“AA,” “Tequila Little Time”) and David Garcia (“Meant To Be,” “Drinking Alone”) brings a 90’s vibe with dobro, mandolin and Ashton’s soulful vocals.

Ashton began on her musical path at a young age, and then honed her skills while at Belmont University in Nashville, where she graduated from in 2016. After graduating she signed a joint record deal with UMG Nashville and Interscope in December 2017. She was featured on the 2018 Keith Urban song “Drop Top” and in 2019 she was a part of the Maren Morris tour.

While at Belmont University, Ashton went through a change in her thoughts of performing after listening to a new unknown singer/songwriter, Chris Stapleton.

“I get to college and I found a video of Chris Stapleton before he blew up; he was nothing yet, and it was him singing this song called ‘What Are You Listening To’ in the back room of a radio station. It was soul, but it was country,” Ashton recalled in an interview in 2019. “I remember taking it to my voice coach and being like, ‘This. What is this? This is what I want to do.’ And he was like, ‘No one’s doing that.’ Cool! That’s a good thing! So to help me, we would take old country songs and put a soul twist on them, or we would take old soul songs and put a country twist on them.”

Ashton has had her share of ups and downs and in 2014 was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. She has since recovered and is in remission. But, the experience did help to shape who she is today.

“Cancer for me was a Band-Aid you have to rip off. I didn’t cry; Everyone else seemed to cry, and I was just like: ‘This happened to me, and I just have to deal with it. Why am I gonna cry about it?’” Ashton says.

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