Ayla Brown Profile
AYLA BROWN IS BEING FUSSED OVER by a pair of tanned and toned middle-aged salesmoms in the fitting room of the Burlington Mall Caché, a suburban clothing chain known for its midpriced “occasion wear,” and for which Ayla is a spokesmodel. The ladies parade through the store with armfuls of pop-star attire: sparkly tops, Lycra pants.
Tonight Ayla, a 22-year-old recent Boston College graduate, legendary local hoops player, aspiring country singer, and elder daughter of U.S. Senator Scott Brown, will perform a live set as part of the mall’s back-to-school fashion event. When she played basketball at BC (on a full scholarship), Ayla was bound by certain NCAA rules: no free clothes, self-promotion, or singing at malls. Not anymore. “When I was at Boston College, if people wanted to dress me or have me wear their jewelry, I couldn’t,” she explains. “Now that I’m out of school, I’m like, ‘Bring it on!’” She chooses a sequined beige top and black leggings, which she pairs with her own knee-high leather boots.
Before her dad went from obscurity to Senate sexpot Scott Brown, Ayla was the most famous member of her family, a multitasking overachiever who’d made a name for herself as a record-breaking high school basketball star and American Idol finalist. The latter accomplishment led to so many gigs singing the national anthem at Boston-area sports events, concerts, and fundraisers that the local press dubbed her “the Anthem Girl.” Other extracurriculars included reviewing episodes of Idol for the Boston Herald, and, after her father was elected, doing semiregular segments as a correspondent for CBS’s Early Show. Her first big interview: Scott Brown.
The music thing used to be a part-time gig. She recorded and independently released harmless, generic pop singles like “I’m So Happy” and “Sugah” during breaks and summer vacation. (User reviews on iTunes range from “You are very talented” to “These are some of the worst songs I’ve ever heard.”) But since graduating in May, Ayla’s entire focus has been her singing career. Now she logs up to 70 hours a week writing, networking, tweeting, making appearances, and performing live shows wherever she can get them: at malls, fairs, festivals, games. She spent the summer touring New England to promote Circles, her latest self-released EP; signing CDs; and selling Ayla Brown T-shirts, posters, and other merchandise. All those $5 laminated backstage passes add up. She’s been able to buy her own condo (though she rents it out and, like a good girl, continues to live at her parents’ house in Wrentham).
In August, however, in the middle of her curiously named “Fizzically Fit” tour, Ayla made an announcement: She was giving up pop and going country. Her abandoning a genre that tends to celebrate — or at least pay more attention to — boobs and bad behavior has nothing to do with her father’s conservative politics, she insists, though she does make an effort in interviews, and in life, to be wholesome. She doesn’t swear, and she doesn’t slip up. The truth, she says, is that she’s been a country fan since being introduced to Rascal Flatts in high school; she only fell into pop because that’s what people told her she was good at. “Those were the people who told me to do ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,’” she says with mock bitterness, referring to the song that got her through Idol’s early auditions but eventually prompted judge Simon Cowell to label her “robotic and somewhat empty.”