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With a bigger stage, Ashley McBryde is paying it forward

Country singer Ashley McBryde got some exciting news from Carrie Underwood ahead of this Sunday's Academy of Country Music Awards. McBryde won new female artist of the year and a performance spot on the big stage in Las Vegas.

McBryde is not your typical new female country star. At 35 years old, her success took years of playing in dive bars and standing strong when it seemed no one else believed she could make it her way, reports CBS News correspondent Jan Crawford. Now that she's broken through, she's looking back to see what helped her persevere and trying to pay it forward.

Long before the accolades started rolling in for McBryde, there were countless days and nights writing music with friends, making the truth rhyme and hoping it would connect.

"That's kind of our rule, don't write anything down until somebody cries," McBryde said. "We like to dive deep."

It was that emotional connection to the music that took her from small town Arkansas all the way to Nashville. With a sound and look so different, the industry first tried to turn her into someone else.

"It started with a photoshoot," McBryde said. "This person looks at me and says, 'I need you to start running twice a day.' I wouldn't run if a bear chased me."

"And it was, 'I need you to lose 10, 20, 30, if you can,'" McBryde said. "I'm still trying to lose 10, 20, 30 every day of my life like every other woman in the world."

She took the criticism and turned it into a country music hit. "Girl Going Nowhere," McBryde's debut album, earned a Grammy nomination.

"I don't know that I've written one more important than 'Girl Going Nowhere' – yet," she said. 

McBryde's favorite song, "Bible and a .44" – about an honest man who always carried his Bible and his pistol – may also be her most personal.

"People get upset when we do 'Bible and a .44' and they cry, and I say two things. Number one, I'm so sorry. And number two, I am so happy you have somebody that you feel like that about," McBryde said.

"And who was that person for you?" Crawford asked.

"My dad," McBryde said, choking up with emotion.

For every "no" McBryde heard from critics in Nashville, she's heard them her whole life from her dad, who thought the music industry was no place for his daughter.

"Just a few years ago, right when he was first getting sick, we took a trip together," McBryde said. "And he said, 'Well, just tell me something. Promise me that when you've made your money and had your fill of all this music stuff, you'll go to medical school.' … You can say anything you want, you know, about me and about us and the music we make, but my daddy doesn't approve of it. So how bad is it gonna hurt me if you say that?"

A physician and farmer, William McBryde is now fighting a degenerative disease.

"I'm careful, the things I share with him, because it's important to me. And it's not always important to him," McBryde said.

"The awards and the success," Crawford said.

"And any of it. Yeah. I said, 'You know, Daddy, I'm not just – I'm not just playing bars anymore. I'm playing arenas. We're – we're traveling the world,'" McBryde said. "And he said, 'I'm – I'm proud for you.' Didn't say 'of you.'"

"Everybody wants their papa to be proud of 'em. Everybody does," McBryde added, tearing up.

"But you're not sure?" Crawford asked.

"No, I'm not," she responded.

"And how do you work through that?"

"We'll write some songs about it," McBryde said. She found the encouragement to keep going from her mother.  "I could've said, 'I wanna be a one-legged purple gorilla,' and she'd have said, 'OK, honey.'"

"But do you think she thought, 'Yeah. You can be the best one-legged purple gorilla that there ever was?'" Crawford asked.

"Absolutely," McBryde said. "Whatever it is."

"So she believed in you?"

"Always," she said.

She put her faith in a band that's gone from riding in vans to tour buses to airplanes.

"This is the only thing I know how to do, and I'm going to do it to the best of my ability. And when the level ups itself, I will up myself to that level," McBryde said.

Now that they've found a bigger stage, McBryde has also found a bigger purpose.

"You've gotta encourage," she said.

"Why do you feel strongly about that?" Crawford asked.

"It's important to encourage," she said, her voice shaking, "because not everybody gets it."

"Somebody doesn't think they can go to college. Somebody doesn't think they can spell good. You know, somebody's not getting, 'Yes,'" she added.

She got more "no's" than "yes's," McBryde said. "Not everybody has my mom in their life."

"And what's your message to them?"

"If anybody has told you not to passionately pursue what sets your soul on fire, they are wrong. Don't you dare give up. And if you do, you better not let me find out about it," McBryde said.

Not too bad for this girl showing the world there's somewhere for us all.

McBryde said writing and performing her music is like a form of therapy. She hopes her songs can be the same thing for fans – with themes we all can relate to. Though she's already won one ACM award ahead of the show, she's up for one more on Sunday: female artist of the year.

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