Despite the success of her acclaimed debut album, 2018's Girl Going Nowhere, rising country music sensation Ashley McBryde has struggled to have a hit on country radio. She's not letting it bother her, though.

"No, I’m not," she tells CMT in response to a question about if her lack of radio airplay is bothering her. The singer-songwriter's highest-charting song so far is her debut single, "A Little Dive Bar in Dahlonega," which barely squeaked into the Top 30. McBryde, though earned the ACM's New Female Vocalist of the Year honor and received a Grammy nomination for Best Country Album.

"At first when starting radio tour, I was told it would be a bunch of fluff, and it’s a bunch of crap, and you have to do a lot of butt-kissing you don’t wanna do — and it’s still not gonna get you anywhere. I thought, 'Yeah, you gotta be making this stuff up. You’re telling me all I have to do is hang out with people and hope they like my music? That’s what I’ve done for years.' And then I did that and was like, 'Oh man, this is really hard,'" McBryde shares.

"But surely there are lots of people with giant hearts that really want to get into cool songs. But they seriously don’t," she continues. "This is, 'Are you looking at this? Is anybody else seeing this? You gotta be joking me.'"

Instead of getting frustrated, though, McBryde acknowledges the difficulties that radio program directors face, calling the job "really hard."

"It broke my heart for all of the artists that I know that are doing the thing, and are getting ready to do the thing, and it really breaks my heart for music directors and program directors because they are shackled on both hands and both legs," she adds. "And even if they love your song, they can’t necessarily play it."

The title track of Girl Going Nowhere proves that McBryde isn't easily discouraged. Rather, she handles rejection in stride.

"The first few 'no’s that you get, they sting so bad. They really do shake you for a second and you wonder, 'Should I do this?'" she admits. "But then that other part of you — the stronger, small voice — says, 'Well, now you have to.'

"I mean, you wanted to do it anyway, just for you. Now you have to teach this asshole a lesson," she muses. "Now you have to do this, and you have to do it well. You have to really put everything you got into this — or don’t do it. Because everybody is waiting for you to fall off the tightrope."

When she starts to feel down, McBryde reflects on the success of her friend, fellow country singer Eric Church. She's a longtime fan, and he gave her a leg up early on in her career, inviting her onstage to sing one of her songs at one of his arena shows. These days, they share PR teams and management companies.

"It makes me go, 'Okay, it’s going to be all right,'" she says. "At the same time, when people say, 'You remind me of Eric Church,' I go, 'Don’t say that just because they don’t play me on the radio.' If that’s why I remind you of him, then don’t do that. And there’s so much more to it. To say any artist is like any other artist would be a mistake.

"But to see Eric and to have been around him, and just the few times that I have, and to know that he didn’t seek to be this way … He didn’t try to do this the left or the right way. Neither did I," she adds. "I didn’t mean to be the girl that talks about whiskey and Spandex all the time, it just happened. I don’t know, I am proud of it."

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