Ayla Brown Profile
Ayla’s parents say they’ll continue to emotionally guide Ayla’s passion as long as she can financially support herself. “We’ve given her the tools to make the decisions, and now we’re letting her sink or swim,” says Senator Brown. “We’re obviously thinking of her all the time, but there’s a point as a parent when you have to let go and let life move on.” Adds Huff, “Ayla’s one of those kids that was born, like, 50 years old…. From the time she could say, ‘I do it,’ she didn’t want help with anything, and I mean anything: schoolwork, getting dressed.”
That could be her downfall. Ayla is set on proving that her success has nothing to do with her father, but that’s the problem. She may have been the most famous person in her family before the election, but she’s certainly not anymore. “We see a lot of beautiful girls and sexy, rugged, good-looking guys who can sing like birds, but they still need to have that X factor,” says House, the Capitol Records music executive. “A great song, great package, experience performing live, all that stuff certainly adds up, but, more, you just kind of know when they walk in the room.”
Ayla’s X factor certainly won’t be her ability to stir up controversy. When she’s not working, she and her boyfriend, whom she won’t talk about, watch Law & Order: SVU, maybe order some takeout Italian. She doesn’t like to drink, and she still volunteers at Mount Saint Mary’s Abbey in Wrentham, where she’s worked since high school cleaning up leaves. She’s more house-mom-in-training than country-star-in-the-making, meaning her success at self-promotion may be local and insignificant. If anything, Ayla’s biggest mistake might be not that she uses her dad too much, but that she doesn’t use him enough.
“By now, there are hundreds of former Idols,” says Rushfield, the guy who wrote the book about the show. “It’s hard to use it to get attention anymore, and there can even be a bit of a media backlash. So anything you can do to get a little attention for your singing and your music is a good thing. Ultimately, people don’t buy records because your father is a senator, but without some sort of edge it can be very hard to break through. Everybody needs something, and she’s got this.”
Ayla’s not deterred, and she has a team of people — a manager, a producer, assistant types, some songwriters — working with her and telling her she has what it takes to succeed. More important, Ayla believes her work ethic is stronger than anyone else’s she’s ever met, her Idol competition included. “I’m one of the most prepared and focused people I know,” she says. Her best moment from the show was when Simon Cowell said he believed she was the season’s hardest worker. “It kind of proved that I’m not just one of those -silver-spoon girls,” she says, “which a lot of people pin me to be.”