As your lungs inhale the dastardly delish aroma of ribs at this weekend’s third annual Middletown Delaware State BBQ Cook-off, and your ears soak up the modern country and pop flavor of national singer-songwriter Ashley Forrest, you shouldn’t feel awkward if saliva trickles down the side of your lip.
After all, you won’t be in the minority, dear ones.
The BBQ — being presented by the Middletown Area Chamber of Commerce and the Dutch Country Farmers Market — will also feature entertainment from other national acts like Edens Edge and Thomas Rhett, as well as local favorites the Stones Throw Band, and Me Equals You.
Immersed in confidence, while radiating with a bubbly — but not ditzy — persona, Forrest recently proved to Delawareans why she’s been selected to sing the “Star Spangled Banner” at Dover International Speedway on June 2 before the NASCAR Nationwide Series “5 Hour Energy 200” race begins.
The youthful-sounding 23-year-old turned heads when she gracefully belted out songs from her upcoming album “Can’t Wait” at the 2012 Mrs. Delaware United States Pageant held at Everett Meredith Middle School on Saturday.
Now, she’s ready to perform at the BBQ Cook-off.
“I definitely have a different kind of sound,” said Forrest, of Crofton, Md., who will perform at the BBQ on Saturday. “I feel that when you hear my songs, you know it’s me.”
While her innocent voice plays a role in distinguishing her brand of music from today’s top country stars, Forrest, who’s signed to Arista Media Group, said she also believes she has the uncanny ability to weave “raspiness” and “emotion” into her music to the point where she’s able to craft an atmosphere of “women empowerment.”
‘Ashley’ in Wonderland
As an encore of her routine at the Mrs. Delaware pageant, audiences can expect to tumble down the rabbit hole with Forrest at the BBQ, as she whisks them to her stylized world of country, performing various selections from “Can’t Wait,” slated to drop this summer.
The 11-song album was recorded in Nashville, Tenn., and produced by Grammy Award-nominated producer Mark Moffatt.
“There’s such a wide range of the different sides of me on this CD,” Forrest said. “I absolutely am in love with every single song, because every single song honestly is a piece of me.”
Forrest poured a bouquet of emotions into the project.
There’s the joyful “Here With Me,” a bright tune expressing her never-ending love for a guy. Then there’s the somber and slightly dark “I’ll Be,” commemorating her late grandfather, Carroll Coone.
Page 2 of 2 - The fun and silly track “What I Did Last Night” tells the story of a girl who recalls acting on impulse at a party the night before, with lines like “Did I corner you and kiss you just the second I arrived?”
Seven of the songs on “Can’t Wait” were penned by several elite songwriters from Hilary Scott, “What I Did Last Night,” to writers from Taylor Swift’s camp: Robert Orrall and Rivers Rutherford with “Eyes Wide Open,” Forrest said.
Meanwhile Forrest scribed the final four songs on the album, including “Here With Me,” which she performed at Saturday’s pageant.
Though Forrest didn’t say exactly when “Can’t Wait” is expected to drop this summer, the starry-eyed singer announced her first single is slated to debut on the radio in the next five to six weeks.
Next week she’ll chat with the suits at Arista Media Group to determine which song will be crowned the single, she said.