It’s Been A Year: Ashley Cooke Highlights 10 Major Milestone Moments From Whirlwind Year Of Success In 2023

Since Cooke has so much to be proud of, we recently caught up with her to chat about her most memorable highlights of the past year.

By

Andrew Wendowski

Andrew Wendowski is the Founder and CEO of Music Mayhem. As a 29-year-old entrepreneur, he oversees content as the Editor-In-Chief for the independent brand. Wendowski, who splits time between Philadelphia, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn., has an extensive background in multimedia. Before launching Music Mayhem in 2014, he worked as a highly sought-after photojournalist and tour photographer, collaborating with such labels as Interscope Records and Republic Records. He has captured photos of some of the biggest names, including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Harry Styles, P!NK, Morgan Wallen, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Shania Twain, and hundreds more. Wendowski’s photos and freelance work have appeared nationwide and can be seen everywhere from ad campaigns to various publications, including Billboard and Rolling Stone. When Wendowski isn’t running Music Mayhem, he enjoys spending time at concerts, traveling, and capturing photos.

Editorial Policy

|

Posted on January 16, 2024

Share on:

Ashley Cooke; Photo by Robby Klein

Ashley Cooke is ready to help define the country music genre in 2024. And she has herself to thank for that, as she has been working hard towards her well-deserved success and has become one of the most-buzzed about artists since she arrived in the genre.

After already setting herself up for success in 2022, inking a deal and claiming viral status online, the talented 26-year-old singer/songwriter tallied an even lengthier list of achievements in just a short time.

Although she has toured with various top artists before, 2023 saw Cooke jumping on even more stages, from sharing a full-circle moment with her musical hero Kenny Chesney at the Rock the Ocean’s Tortuga Music Festival at Fort Lauderdale Beach Park in Fort Lauderdale, FL, to spending time across the pond as part of the ultra-popular C2C: Country to Country music festival in Europe. But, more importantly, Cooke embarked on her first-ever debut tour, performing in front of big audiences as she logged stops all over the country.

Ashley Cooke; Photo Courtesy of Robby Klein
Ashley Cooke; Photo Courtesy of Robby Klein

That tour was named after her debut album, Shot In The Dark, which she released via Big Loud Records/Back Blocks Music. A highly ambitious collection, Shot In The Dark proves Cooke has an impressive arsenal of music, boasting 24 songs – the longest debut album by a female Country artist to date. The album finds Cooke diving into personal experiences as she explores topics of love, relationships, breakups, and more.

“I’ve waited my whole life to release my debut album – growing up with this dream and finally getting to see it come to reality is something I can barely believe,” Cooke previously explained of the project. “It’s not lost on me, I’m getting to share my diary with fans during a pivotal time in my life when I’m living out so many emotions & firsts every single day, and that’s what’s reflected in these 24 songs. One of the coolest parts about releasing an album with 24 songs is that I can really dive deep into all the different sides of my experiences and feelings.”

Since Cooke has so much to be proud of, Music Mayhem recently caught up with her to chat about her most memorable highlights of the past year.

Read on to see Ashley Cooke’s 10 biggest milestone moments Of 2023!

Dream Come True Performance With Kenny Chesney At Tortuga

In the spring of 2023, Cooke lived out a dream moment at the Tortuga Music Festival when she unexpectedly received the invitation to deliver a duet performance of “When The Sun Goes Down” with Kenny Chesney. Cooke stepped into the role of the song’s original duet partner, Uncle Kracker, and brought down the house in front of the No Shoes Nation. Cooke attended the festival as a fan years prior, so the special event brought her full circle.

“I grew up going to Tortuga Music Festival and was always in awe standing in the sand watching my favorite Country artists. It was a dream in itself to perform on the main stage, but when Kenny Chesney pulled me up on stage to sing ‘When The Sun Goes Down’… now that was a core memory.”

@theashleycooke

10 years ago watching @kennychesney from the crowd —> tonight, singing with him on stage. thankful for new friends and memories. 🤍

♬ original sound – Ashley Cooke

Performing On The TODAY Show For The First Time

Adding onto the excitement, Cooke locked in her national TV debut over the summer with a memorable performance of “Tastes Like” on NBC’s TODAY show, singing in front of a captivated crowd and hosts Hoda Kotb and Jenna Bush Hager. The Times Square experience didn’t stop there. Cooke also received a special surprise for her viral TikTok song,  “Never Til Now,” which she re-recorded with fellow country artist Brett Young.

“This was another bucket list moment for me! When I was young, and even now, I would look forward to watching the TODAY show every morning with my mom over a cup of coffee. Never in a million years did I imagine I’d be making my morning television debut on the week that my debut album came out. Hoda, Jenna, and the entire team were the most lovely people, and it was surreal walking into their Rockefeller Center studio. They even surprised me (like, actually surprised me!) with an RIAA Gold certification for my song “Never Til Now” with Brett Young. It was a moment I’ll never forget.”

Ashley Cooke, TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, Photo by Nathan Congleton
Ashley Cooke, TODAY with Hoda & Jenna, Photo by Nathan Congleton

Becoming iHeart’s On The Verge Artist 2023-2024

In early December 2023, Cooke was selected as iHeartCountry’s On The Verge artist. She earned that recognition with her song, “Your Place.” Teddy Swims also received the On The Verge CHR Artist title for his “Lose Control” single. Cooke was surprised with the exciting news at the Grand Ole Opry before she took the stage as part of her Opry NextStage Class of 2023 live performance. Cooke’s invitation finds her in good company as she joins the ranks of artists like Wilson, Carly Pearce, and Megan Moroney, who have earned the title before her. 

“Having Lainey Wilson – who I admire so much – tell me that I am iHeart’s On The Verge Artist, while backstage at the Opry, was a pinch me moment, and I am so excited for this opportunity and can’t wait to get to work!” Cooke said. 

Releasing Her Debut Album, Shot In The Dark

Cooke released her debut album, Shot in the Dark, on July 21, 2023. The collection set a record for being one of the longest-ever debut albums from a female country artist. The lengthy yet listen-worthy project includes collaborations with Colbie Caillat, Brett Young, Jackson Dean, and Nate Smith. Of the tracks, Cooke co-wrote 20 and self-penned one. 

Of dropping her album, she says, “Album release day still feels so surreal to me. Releasing my debut album has been a dream of mine for as long as I can remember, and it’s something I’m really proud of accomplishing in 2023. I love that my fans finally have the music that means so much to me and makes up/ helps define who I am.”

Ashley Cooke 'Shot In The Dark' Album Art; Photo Courtesy of Robby Klein
Ashley Cooke ‘Shot In The Dark’ Album Art; Photo Courtesy of Robby Klein

Parents Dancing On Stage At Luke Bryan’s Show Indiana

Cooke joined Luke Bryan on the road as part of the five-time Entertainer of the Year’s 36-date trek, dubbed the Country On Tour. She, along with special guests Chayce Beckham, Tyler Braden, Jackson Dean, Jon Langston, Conner Smith, Alana Springsteen, Hailey Whitters, and DJ Rock made stops in cities like Dallas, Denver, Salt Lake City, Cincinnati, and Orlando. But, it was an August stop in Indiana, where the spotlight was put on Cooke’s parents as they danced romantically in front of a crowd of thousands while Cooke sang and played guitar.  

“I really admire my parents and their beautiful love story,” Cooke shares. “I had a show opening up for Luke Bryan (what?!) and it happened to be close to my parents’ hometown in Indiana, so we had a lot of family and friends come out [and] I thought there was no better way to honor my parents than to bring them out on stage to share a dance in front of thousands of people.”

C2C: Country To Country Festival

One of the biggest highlights for many country artists is getting to trek across the pond to be part of London’s C2C Festival lineup, which showcases fresh talent to new fans, who are eager to hear country music from the South. Cooke impressed folks and even added to her fan-base after delivering a set that included songs like “Dirt On Em,” “It’s Been A Year,” and “Never Til Now.”

“Playing at C2C Festival in 2023 was a dream come true, and one of my favorite crowds I have ever played,” Cooke shared of the whirlwind experience, which she will repeat in 2024. “I loved going overseas and cannot wait to get back there in February on tour with Jordan Davis!”

ACM Awards 2023 Attendance Debut

Cooke graced the ACM Award red carpet for the first time in 2023, donning a metallic Emerald green floor-length gown by Sophie Couture. Hosted by Dolly Parton and Garth Brooks, the show was held at The Star in Fresno, Texas. This was the first time the ceremony took place in Fresno. While Cooke didn’t receive any nominations at the 58th Academy of Country Music Awards, it’s likely that will in 2024 as she continues to skyrocket to stardom. Regardless, she couldn’t have been more thrilled to cheer on her friends and fellow artists at the 2023 ACM Awards.

“This year I went to the ACM Awards for the first time! It’s so much fun to see all of my peers dressed up to the nines, but most importantly, I love being a part of these events to see the industry come together and support one another. One of my favorite nights of the year!” Cooke said.

Ashley Cooke; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images for ACM, Provided by OH Creative
Ashley Cooke; Photo Courtesy of Getty Images for ACM, Provided by OH Creative

First-Ever Headlining Trek, Shot In The Dark Tour: Fans Singing Every Word!

After releasing her debut album, Shot in the Dark, she set out on her first headlining trek of the same name. The tour kicked off on August 23 and included 24 dates. Cooke enlisted Matt Schuster and Vincent Mason as supporting acts for the tour, which concluded on November 10 in Rome, Georgia.

“Another bucket list moment this year was completing my first headline tour!” Cooke explained. “It was so much fun to have Matt Schuster and Vincent Mason opening up the show every night, and seeing my fans show up and sing every word time and time again is a feeling like no other.”

“Your Place” Impacted Country Radio

Cooke capped off the year on a high note with her single, “Your Place,” which impacted country radio airwaves on December 11, 2023. The clever breakup anthem, which Cooke penned alongside Jordan Minton and Mark Trussell, tallied an impressive amount of adds, being included in the rotation of 71 stations across the country.

“‘Your Place’ going to Country radio is something I could have only dreamed of saying a few years ago,” says Cooke. “Ending 2023 with one of my most special songs going to radio continues to remind me how lucky I am to do something I love.”

Added A New Member To The Family

While it’s clear Cooke has a busy schedule as she continues to cement her place in country music, she still carves out time for family and friends, including the new addition to her life – her Goldendoodle, named Buddy! The singer/songwriter shared the news of her new dog on social media in late November, telling folks on TikTok that “He’s so calm and collected, and the best cuddler!”

“Buddy is my new bestie and favorite little guy!” Cooke beams. “I love nothing more than spending time with my family, and now I look forward to seeing Buddy too – he is the best cuddler!”

Additionally, Ashley Cooke will kick off 2024 with a performance at Luke Bryan’s Crash My Playa. She will then head out on the road with “Next Thing You Know” singer Jordan Davis on his extended DAMN GOOD TIME Tour, which will visit the U.S., U.K., Canada and Europe.

For additional information on Ashley Cooke’s debut album or upcoming tour dates, visit her official website HERE.

Share on:

Tagged with:

Written by

Andrew Wendowski is the Founder and CEO of Music Mayhem. As a 29-year-old entrepreneur, he oversees content as the Editor-In-Chief for the independent brand. Wendowski, who splits time between Philadelphia, Penn., and Nashville, Tenn., has an extensive background in multimedia. Before launching Music Mayhem in 2014, he worked as a highly sought-after photojournalist and tour photographer, collaborating with such labels as Interscope Records and Republic Records. He has captured photos of some of the biggest names, including Taylor Swift, Metallica, Harry Styles, P!NK, Morgan Wallen, Carrie Underwood, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Shania Twain, and hundreds more. Wendowski’s photos and freelance work have appeared nationwide and can be seen everywhere from ad campaigns to various publications, including Billboard and Rolling Stone. When Wendowski isn’t running Music Mayhem, he enjoys spending time at concerts, traveling, and capturing photos.

See more posts from Andrew Wendowski