Singing country music became a passion for Ashton Burton at a young age.
The 14-year-old grew up loving gospel music and the twang of country songs. She started taking voice lessons in the third grade, said her mother, Katrina Burton.
Her hard work recently paid off when she was named the Georgia Country and Gospel Music Association's 2009 Most Promising Female Vocalist on Nov. 7 at an awards show in Dalton. Ashton also won Best Video of the Year with her entry produced by Neal Bing.
"It felt amazing," said Ashton, an eighth-grader at Augusta Christian Schools. "It's really cool, since I just started, to be able to get an award that quickly."
Ashton joined the Georgia and South Carolina chapters of the North American Country and Gospel Music Association about three months ago, she said.
In order to follow her dream, Ashton had to quit something else she loved -- cheering. As an eighth-grader, Ashton would have cheered on the varsity squad at Augusta Christian, she said.
"She turned that opportunity down because she wanted to put all of her extra time into her voice," Burton said.
Her voice instructor, Denise Cheeks-Mundy, said Ashton and her mother are creative when it comes to the young singer's talent.
"This is something she really wants to do," said Cheeks-Mundy, who runs Denise Cheeks Studio of Music. "She's committed to it, and her family is supporting her."
In addition to singing, Ashton wants to take piano and guitar lessons. She's already started teaching herself how to play her father's guitar, she said.
As a songwriter, Ashton uses her faith and her trials and tribulations as a teen for inspirations.
"She doesn't only plan to be in the country music market, but she also plans to carry the message of Christ through song as well," said Burton, who sang as a child.
Ashton, who describes her style of singing as "newer country," spends about three hours a day practicing her singing.
In March, she will head to Pigeon Forge, Tenn., to compete with other singers in the North American Country Music Association International competition.
Ashton plans to attend college and pursue singing as a career. She hopes to sing in Nashville, Tenn.
"It's been a dream of mine for a while," she said. "I think I've always felt comfortable on stage."
The Columbia County News-Times ©2013. All Rights Reserved.