Out of the 242 Olympians who represented the United States in the 2018 Winter Games, 13 were from the Bay State. In addition, Ayla Brown, daughter of former Massachusetts senator Scott Brown, headed to Pyeongchang to sing in front of thousands in the Gangneung Hockey Centre. Brown grew up just a few miles away in Wrentham, Massachusetts, and she went to Boston College on a full scholarship in 2006 to play basketball for the Lady Eagles. Now, the former athlete represents the United States in South Korea at the Olympic games, but not as a competitor.
The four year NCAA basketball player found another calling, music, and she is preparing to tour this spring and summer with her music, featuring her newest single “Label.” Brown was also asked to sing the Star-Spangled Banner to begin the United States’ Olympic hockey matches along with a small set between periods. Brown’s singing journey has been extremely unique, as she began as a star basketball player for Boston College.
“I played basketball in college and for the longest time I hoped that I would be able to play at the professional level. But, in 2006 I competed on American Idol and my whole world changed. I fell in love with the stage and music and singing,” Brown said.
Throughout her college years, Brown was forced to juggle her responsibilities to her basketball scholarship while also writing her debut full-length album “Forward” and other music projects.
“Whenever a person is multi-tasking, it’s always difficult,” said Brown. “Practice, mandatory study hall every day, classes, film, weightlifting, games, travel, maintaining a GPA to play, trying to have a social life, and then adding singing to the mix was not easy. But it’s made me who I am today.”
Even though both music and basketball were very close to her heart, it was easy for Brown to decide what kind of career to pursue after graduating from Boston College.
“After college, everything was pulling me towards Nashville,” Brown said. “In fact, I couldn’t think of anything else I wanted to do.”
Brown is extremely grateful for athletic career at Boston College, but she decided not to pursue a career as a professional athlete.
“I feel like I made the right decision to hang up the shoes and replace them with cowgirl boots,” she said. “I don’t miss playing basketball at that level like I thought I would. I do miss being on a team though!”
Since her 11-track album “Forward” was released in October of 2006, Ayla Brown has been steadily working on and releasing original music.
“I am constantly writing and performing but my goal is to find a company to sponsor my next project,” Brown said. “I’m not rushing the process.”
During the olympics, Ayla lived out her fantasies.
“When I got asked to participate I was over the moon with excitement,” said Brown. “The fact that I’m singing at the Olympics is a dream come true because I am really combining my past love for sports with my current love of music and entertainment.”
Aside from singing in the Gangneung Hockey Centre, Brown also represented the United States in conferences, and on educational trips she was invited to take part in during her stay in South Korea.
“I worked with the Embassy in South Korea and I was the highlighted speaker for a program they call ‘Real Talk’” Brown said. “I spoke with university students about my story, journey, passions, and afterwards they asked me questions. I even sang to them!” Brown also visited a traditional art high school in Seoul, there, Brown said, “they’d never met an American musical so I told them about my journey and shared some of my music.”
The students taught Brown a traditional Korean song, and she taught them the National Anthem. As the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics came to a close, Ayla Brown did not fly back home to Nashville. Brown took a trip to New Zealand to see where her father, the current United States ambassador to the country, now works. Brown has posted pictures on her Facebook page along with video compilations of her travels, showing Korea and New Zealand to the public through her eyes.
This spring summer Brown has eight concerts in Massachusetts, a warm welcome back from Pyeongchang. More information about her tour and music can be found at www.aylabrown.com