Country singer Ashley Monroe was already a seasoned show business veteran when she released her self-titled album in 2007 at the tender age of 19. Born in Knoxville, TN, Monroe was born into a family with a great love for country music — she’s kin to Carl Smith and members of the Carter Family on her father’s side — and she developed a passion for music at an early age, taking her first piano lessons when she was only seven. At age 11, Monroe won a talent contest in Pigeon Forge, TN (home to Dolly Parton’s resort Dollywood), singing Patsy Montana’s western classic “I Want to Be a Cowboy’s Sweetheart”; she brought home a $100 prize, and she was soon a regular performer at a theater in Pigeon Forge. However, Monroe’s world was turned upside down when her father died in early 2000, and 13-year-old Ashley began writing songs to help her deal with the tragedy. A few years later, Monroe began making trips to Nashville to perform her music in clubs along the fabled Lower Broadway district, and before long she pulled up stakes and moved to Music City. While Monroe’s youth led to a certain degree of resistance at record labels and publishing houses in Nashville, her music impressed manager Clarence Spalding, who signed her as a client and began shopping her talents around town. While an initial major-label development deal went sour, in 2006 Monroe’s music found an appreciative ear at Columbia Records, and she teamed up with producer Mark Wright (whose clients include Clint Black, Gretchen Wilson, and Los Lonely Boys) to record her first album. An advance single from the album, “Satisfied,” became a popular item on country radio and the CMT cable network when it was released in late 2006, and Ashley Monroe, which featured guest appearances from Dwight Yoakam and Ronnie Dunn, was released on February 27, 2007.