Gateway City Arts is proud to present a wide variety of of shows and events that appeal to all audiences. Coming up this July, we will host country musicians Ayla Brown and Rob Bellamy. Ayla and Rob are both Massachusetts natives now residing in Nashville. Both athletes and musicians, their connection runs deep. Ayla competed on American Idol and has performed at the Grand Ole Opry and The Olympics, among other incredible spaces. Ayla has a stage presence and voice that immediately captivates an audience. Rob is a committed songwriter and the brother of Olympic athlete Kasey Bellamy. He has been working hard at his craft for a while now with immense devotion and creativity. While gearing up for their tour and their time in New England, they took some time to answer some questions for our blog and give us some insight on the story of how they came together, what we can expect at their show, and more. Be sure to mark July 20th on your calendar, you don't want to miss this incredible performance.
Hi Ayla and Rob, thank you so much for taking the time to answer some questions for our blog. We are really looking forward to your show here at Gateway City Arts on July 20th! You are both Massachusetts natives, but you met elsewhere along your travels- can you tell us a little bit about how you found each other musically?
A: We met in Nashville in January of 2017 at a singer-songwriter round at a “New England Patriots watch bar!” Sounds so Boston, we know. But, we started talking to each other and decided to write a song together sometime. Rob actually stood me up on our first writing appointment! But we set another date to write a song, and we came out with a killer song called “Lawbreaker.” The rest is history, and in March of that year we went from just writing songs, to dating. And here we are doing shows together and traveling all around New England singing the songs we’ve written.
Do you feel growing up in Massachusetts has influenced your art in any way?
A: Rob has a lot more “beachy” sounding songs and references to New England then I do, but my heart has always been in MA. I grew up in Wrentham, went to college in Boston, and I come home whenever possible to sing to the amazing people who have supported my music.
R: I would have to say yes because I have several songs that talk about my high school days and times that I've had with the friends that I have made growing up in Massachusetts.
The two of you are in the middle of a tour together right now, how do you feel you each of your music has influenced the other’s?
A: Rob is my best friend. I love writing about our love story together and our songs are so honest. We talk about the experiences we’ve had, and even if things aren’t going as well as we want, we write about those things too. Rob is one of the best songwriters I know, so it’s a privilege to write with him.
R: I have learned a lot from Ayla. Not necessarily her music as much as her stage presence. Thats something that I am continuing to work on and trying to get better at everyday. There aren't any people who have a stage presence like she does.
Rob, I know you have family members that are Olympians and Ayla I know you recently performed at the Olympics. How was that experience?
A: It was incredible to watch Kacey and the rest of the USA women’s hockey game take home gold! And to be there representing the USA in a different, non-athletic way was an absolute honor. I’ll never forget that experience.
R: The experience was incredible. The culture was very refreshing and the food was amazing. It was special that I was able to share the experience with Ayla and my parents as well. My sister winning the gold medal was a cherry on top!
Do either of you have a mantra or a message that you feel you try to embody with your work?
A: I just try and show lots of different emotions on stage. I want young girls to know that I’m strong and an independent voice for them, I want male listeners to know that I love them but won’t take crap from them either, I want to show my parents that I am vulnerable. During my shows I want the listener to go through a journey with me.
R: I like to try and create something that is easy to listen to and can also reach a lot of people with the meaning of the song. I try to incorporate details of my life and word it in a way that impacts more people. You also want people to have a good time and be able to cut a little rug, so those upbeat, fun songs go a long way as well.
I know you are both athletes as well as musicians, do you feel both of these identities have impacted the other in any way?
A: Absolutely. Growing up an athlete you’re taught the importance of teamwork, loyalty, determination, and competition. In order to be successful in any business you must have those qualities.
R: Absolutely. Especially the travel. Athletics teach you how to be a hard worker and a team player. Playing hockey I was also use to traveling on the bus for 10-20 hours at a time a few times a week. So trying to get use to the grind of traveling from one gig to another all summer long, didn't take much adjusting for me at all.
Rob, I read how you decided to focus on your music career after you had already established yourself with your athletic career. How was it taking that plunge? Do you have any stories you wouldn’t mind sharing about when you knew music was the direction you wanted to pursue?
R: My parents got me a guitar for my birthday when I was a senior in college. I became obsessed right away. As soon as I was good enough to string a few chords together I started writing songs. Throughout the years I was progressively getting better and a lot of friends and family kept telling me that I had a lot of talent and that its something that I should think about trying to make money doing. I played in the minor leagues for 7 years all while trying to get better at playing the guitar and songwriting. Finally after I turned 30 I decided that I was going to make a big life change and move down to Nashville, TN. It was a very hard decision for me because I had never done anything else in my life besides play hockey, I didn't know anyone down there, and I had never been down there before. I just knew that it was a place I needed to be to surround myself with better musicians and better songwriters to help me grow. So I packed up my car, found a place to stay, and took the 16 hour drive down there. I have been down there for two years now. I have met so many great and talented people. I released an EP called “Long Freight Train” that you can find on all musical outlets such as Spotify and iTunes. I am real excited a lot of songs that I haven't recorded yet. Ayla and I have even talked about putting out an album together. Music is definitely a hard business to get into. There is so much uncertainty financially. I have been lucky enough to be able to do what I love to do and get the opportunity to play out in front of people and share what I have been working on.
Ayla, you have had an immense amount of success with your music and your vast career. From American Idol, to News Correspondence, to performing at The Grand Ol Opry; is there a “pinch me” moment in your career that stands out to you?
A: I’ve had a few of those moments in my career. Singing with the Boston Pops on July 4th in Boston, doing the Anthem on Monday Night Football for the Patriots, singing the Opry in Nashville, and performing for the troops overseas.
If there was one thing that anyone attending your shows could take with them or be impacted by, what would you hope that would be?
A: If someone connects to a song so much that they come to the merch table afterwards wondering if that song is on a CD. I know it sounds silly, but in the industry they say it all starts with the song. It just takes one!
R: How passionate we are about the music. I hope that they feel that through our voices, lyrics, and chemistry on stage.
What’s next for you two?
A: I want to take advantage of my time in New England and perform at as many places that I can before heading back to Nashville. After that I’d love to travel a bit.
R: We have a very busy summer coming up. A lot of shows in the New England area. We will continue writing and are hoping to release some new music very soon.
Ayla Brown and Rob Bellamy will be here on July 20 at 8pm.
For tickets, visit ticketfly.
Learn more about Ayla Brown here.
Learn more about Rob Bellamy here.
For more information about upcoming shows visit gatewaycityarts.com.