Ayla Brown Profile
But country is going to be a challenge. Though the industry has been particularly welcoming to Idol alumni, including Kellie Pickler and Carrie Underwood, Nashville is a small town, and it doesn’t always take kindly to strangers. “People in Nashville like to hear the story behind what got a person to where they are,” says Autumn House, vice president of A&R for Capitol Records Nashville. “I don’t really feel this way, but some people might think that a TV show that propels you to fame is less worthy than working clubs across Texas.” Or, for that matter, the election of your father to the United States Senate.
SINCE SCOTT BROWN BEAT Martha Coakley to win the Senate seat formerly held by Ted Kennedy, Ayla has both benefited from and been burdened by her father’s public life. She admittedly capitalized on his political success by moving up the planned April release of Circles to shortly after the election, and showed up at the victory party with boxes of CDs. But the self-promotional push wasn’t entirely her doing: Her father served as her manager through the election, fielding press inquiries and weighing in on marketing strategy, only handing over the job to McGregor a few weeks after he headed to Washington.
It’s not easy being the daughter of a politician, and like many before her, Ayla is being forced to find her way as an adult while under the scrutiny of a press corps eager to criticize her father’s politics — not to mention her own career choices, outfits, and hobbies — just because they can. Ayla has been dubbed a GOP fameball, a conservative northeastern belle, Daddy’s little pit bull, and the Tracy Flick of Republican daughters.
Some of this she brings on herself. Her website, aylabrown.com, includes a 2,100-word bio listing Ayla’s achievements in categories like The Athlete, The Actress, The Journalist, and more. And yet she’s not out there selling personal stories to Us Weekly like Bristol Palin, or tweeting shots of her cleavage à la Meghan McCain. She’s just not that sort of girl. She’s also driven less by a need to be famous than by a need to be right. “Ayla is the classic case of, Tell her no and she’ll do everything she can to prove you wrong,” says Alex Gallagher, her high school basketball coach at Noble and Greenough in Dedham. “That drive is a defining characteristic for her. She will simply not give up.”
Cathy Inglese, the former Boston College women’s basketball coach who signed Ayla as a high school sophomore, says it was the young woman’s blue-collar drive that appealed to her most. “She was an undersized player inside,” says Inglese, “but one of the things she was best at was her work ethic and her scrappiness.”