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Interview

Professional Basketball Player, Eugene Campbell III Has Proven His Worth Today By Playing His Way Up to Higher Leagues

Eugene Campbell III is a professional basketball player from Jersey City, New Jersey living in an environment where violence, drugs, and crime were the norm. Growing up, his family was not the wealthiest, but they managed to provide him with the best life filled with enjoyment and valuable life lessons. His passion for basketball is rooted in his relationship with his father and older sister. We had the opportunity to interview this incredible player on how he became a true dream chaser and how he has managed to overcome so many challenges and become who he is today.

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Hello Eugene, welcome to Honk Magazine. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

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Eugene Campbell III – “Before I took basketball seriously, I was into baseball in the eighth grade and was pretty good at it. Unfortunately, one of my teachers did not like the idea that I was playing on the baseball team and told my parents that I was failing her class and wouldn’t be able to play baseball. Come to find out, I was never-failing my class and was kicked off the team anyways, even though I wasn’t ever failing. This teacher never wanted me to play baseball and lied to my parents as I was never failing the class. When the Baseball incident happened, I stopped playing sports up until the end of middle school. It was hard for me to play any sport, knowing that I would always be cut just because of who I was. Once I went to high school, though, I started to get back into sports and focused more on basketball instead of baseball. I felt that I was one of the better players in my freshman year, but because my school was again not fond of me, I was cut from the team. I used this to motivate and fuel me to have the career I have today.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

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Eugene Campbell III – The most Interesting thing that happened at the start of my career was my teammate and I being placed in a city in Moldova where we were the only people who spoke English. We had to use sign language and pronouns just to communicate with people. It was also interesting that we were the only Americans in the whole city. At times we were often starred at walking to the stores and asked for photos with people. It was very interesting and it is something I won’t forget.

Related: Exclusive Interview With Nathan Delva, a Model, Entrepreneur and CEO of Envision Apparel

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Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Eugene Campbell III – The funniest mistake I made at the start of my career was bringing expensive white Jordana with me to Moldova during my rookie year. It was a funny mistake because when I got back to the United States my sneakers were brown. I learned my lesson and that movement on I either brought cheaper sneakers or darker colored sneakers.

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What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Eugene Campbell III – I am working on some new designs for my clothing brand coming out this spring. I am going to be modeling a couple of brands that I am a brand ambassador for and I’m working on getting news coverage from News 12 New Jersey to come my community service events coming up.

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Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

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Eugene Campbell III – The most interesting people I interacted with are people from Armenia. They had upbeat energy that was unmatched and very memorable. The best story is on my birthday when I went to the mall and I told the people at the burger place I always got to that it was my birthday and they gave me free food and played the birthday song in English and danced with me. It was very kind and sweet and it was a memory I will never forget.

 

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Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Eugene Campbell III – I would recommend them to take care of their bodies. The best ability is availability which is what my college coach uses to always tell me. If you are available to play you have a better chance of longevity in your career than someone who isn’t available.

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You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure? 

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Eugene Campbell III – My advice is for the people out there seeking professional basketball careers is to stay locked in and make sure you give everything 120%. The bigger the dream is the early your going to have to wake up and then later you are going to have to stay up.

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Can you share with our readers any self-care routines, practices, or treatments that you do to help your body, mind, or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

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Eugene Campbell III – The best self-care treatment for me is listening to Eric Thomas who in my opinion is the greatest motivational speaker in the world. Whenever I’m not feeling the most motivated I always listen to him and I am instantly motivated and ready to take a goal at hand.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

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Eugene Campbell III – I wish someone would have told me that euros are worth more than the U.S dollar that way I would have known in advance that I would be losing money exchanging USD. I wish I would have known in advance that in my rookie year in Moldova that the city I was in didn’t have an ATM that way I would have just brought a lot of money to exchange. I wish someone told me that Armenia was a racist country so I would have been more prepared for it instead of dealing with the culture shock as soon as I entered the country. I wish someone told me that a full overseas season lasted 7to 8 months that way I would have packed more clothes and sneakers. I wish someone told me that bringing a laptop is very important being overseas. It would be 10x easier to get work done if I had my laptop with me.

 

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Can you please give us your favorite  “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life? 

Eugene Campbell III – “Trying suggests the option of failure and failure is not an option” This quote is very relevant in my life because it comes from a very special brother of mine Shawn Hawkins who was my educator in my intake process of being a proud brother of psi sigma phi multicultural fraternity incorporated. It made me eliminate the word trying out of my vocabulary and now I just say it’s going to get done it has made me more confident and determined in getting things done.

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None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Eugene Campbell III – I have to give a big thanks to a great family friend of mine Kenneth Faried (NBA player). Kenneth is someone I grew up with and my father and his father are best friends. He was able to make it to the NBA have a great career and I was blessed to be able to receive some meaningful advice from him. Kenneth called me in the spring of 2019 when I told him that I officially wanted to be a professional basketball player. He sat on the phone with me for over 30 minutes giving me the blueprint and the tools I needed to become a pro I listened to every word he said followed the blueprint and became a pro two years later. I still talk to him to this day and I always thank him for giving me the advice and motivation I needed to get my career started.

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You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Eugene Campbell III – I want to build my recreational center for children and adults of all ages who like sports. They don’t have enough of these in New Jersey that cover all sports so I want to be the first. People don’t understand that sports not only build lifetime friendships but also keep people active and lower the obesity rate around the world. I will not only change the community but I will change the world.

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We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂

Eugene Campbell III – I would most definitely love to have breakfast with my favorite basketball player of all time Paul Pierce. He is the reason I love basketball the reason I am a die-hard Celtics fan and was my biggest motivation to keep playing. I imitated everything Paul Pierce did from the headband to the wristband to even the trash talking. He is my role model and I would love to sit with him and just talk basketball.

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How can our readers follow you online?

Eugene Campbell III – You can follow me on Instagram – @iamgenecampbell

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Natalie is a journalism major with a focus on Entertainment and Music who aspires to become a Content Creator For Honk Magazine. Eventually, she wants to be the Publisher or Editor-in-Chief of a major Publishing House. She loves helping people find their voice and passion for writing and journalism, and she can always be found with coffee in hand, editing another article.

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Artist Spotlight

Angie and Chris from Eleyet McConnell Talks “Surrender,” Morphing and New Single

Angie McConnell’s powerful voice and heartfelt songwriting, influenced by icons such as Beth Hart, Janis Joplin, and Merle Haggard, blend seamlessly with Chris McConnell’s soulful musical arrangements, reminiscent of classic 70s rock and blues. Together, as Eleyet McConnell, they create a sound that is both nostalgic and refreshingly modern.

Since meeting in 2013 and beginning their collaborative songwriting journey, Angie and Chris have developed a musical synergy that is palpable both in the studio and on stage. Their songs reflect personal experiences and universal truths, delivered with an honesty that strikes a chord with audiences.

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On the eve of their new single release, “Don’t Tell Me Why” from their critically acclaimed debut album, “Crazy World,” the couple took time out to answer some questions in this EXCLUSIVE interview…

“Surrender” is such a personal and emotionally charged track. Can you share with us the inspiration behind the song and what it means to you both personally?

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Angie: Lyrically is a reflection over a very difficult period of time for me.  Life was throwing curveballs at me, and I had to reconcile a lot of really hard things all at once.  “Surrender” was my way of telling the story of my journey, and those moments when things felt quite insurmountable to me.  It was my opportunity to share my belief in a higher power and faith that there is something bigger than all of us in control. 

As a married duo, how does your relationship and shared experiences influence your songwriting process?

Chris: Almost every song we’ve written is about our life before and after marriage.  For us it’s a magical thing to share the ability to express life through song lyrics and melodies.  Writing is almost like the framework that makes us who we are both as individuals and as husband and wife.  Angie never wrote songs until she and I met, and I was just waiting for things to click for her and see what could happen.  For a couple years I’d noodle on the bass during rehearsals to see if she’d catch on and it took a bit.  One day it was like she heard it for the first time and things just took off from there. 

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Angie, you mentioned that “Surrender” is your “give it to God” song. Could you elaborate on how your faith journey has influenced your music, especially in this song?

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I grew up in the church and spent several days every week in service, bible study, or the fun activities our church would have on Saturdays or during softball leagues and things like that.  My mom was always playing hymns on the piano and she and my dad would sing those old songs playing guitar.  It was definitely part of my foundation.  Like many people I drifted away from that life as I got older and while I never forgot those times, I certainly wasn’t active like I was when I was younger.  

As I explained, the lyrics to “Surrender” talk about the lowest period of time in my life.  So many difficult things happening all at once and I was struggling to deal with it all in a healthy way.  Literally, one day I was on my knees just sobbing because I was so overwhelmed and I actually said out loud, “I can’t do this please help me”.  I felt a peace that I hadn’t felt in a very long time and not because it had left me.  It was because I wasn’t open to receiving it and didn’t even realize it. 

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All my life I remember hearing people say, “lay it down..give it to God”….. but it didn’t really resonate.  This time it felt so natural and so easy.  I let it all go and gave my worry, my fear, my sadness, my guilt….all of it to God.  It was the best thing I could have done for myself.

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“Gettin’ By” was a success, hitting the top 30 on the UK iTunes Rock songs chart. How did you feel about the reception to your debut single, and did it impact your approach to creating new music?

Chris:  Believe it or not, we never sit down with the intention of writing a song in any certain fashion.  Even with a song like “Getting By” and all its success, we still never went back to write the next tune with the intent to stay in that vein and try and match the success.   Maybe we should think about that in the future, but our writing just doesn’t flow like that.  

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Your debut album, “Crazy World,” seems to touch on themes of overcoming struggles and finding hope. How do you hope listeners connect with the overall message of the album?

Angie:  The songs on this album all come from our life together.  Chris and I have had our share of struggles, and we still found a way to make it all work and it’s been just amazing.  Our lives are crazy and fun and full and challenging, and the world at large feels even more crazy at times. This album shares stories of different struggles like paying bills, falling in love, sadness, disappointment and how unfair life is at times – all the things that each of us deals with on the daily.  We found each other and have found a way to get through all the hard times together.  Anything is possible.  Hopefully, someone else can listen to our story and feel encouraged to keep chasing their dream.

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“Don’t Tell Me Why” is your upcoming single, set to release soon. Can you give us a glimpse into the inspiration behind this track and what listeners can expect?

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Chris:  This song came together in a matter of minutes.  We were writing with our friend, Darla, in her basement one evening.  I came up with those bass intro notes and just sang the line “Don’t tell me why”.  Darla and I just seemed to play the same thing without talking much about it and Angie literally just took off with the lyrics to the song. It was like she couldn’t write them down fast enough.  Apparently, she was upset with me about something (chuckling).  I might be responsible for a few of those songs when she was upset.  More stories for later LOL.

Your music has been described as genre-defying. How do you approach blending different musical influences to create your unique sound?

Angie: Our music is simply a culmination of all the great stuff we grew up listening to as kids. Both of us have grown up with several influences and we love it all.  I think it’s why our original work feels like it could live in a lot of places and it’s really difficult to say we live in this or that bucket.   Both of us grew up on gospel and country music from our parents, Chris loved the 70s music and so did I.  We both love rock and roll and blues and oddly enough, neither of us had a love fest with the arena stuff from the 80s.  Sure, we listened and yes, we were in the throes of the vibe like everyone else at the time, but I wouldn’t say that era influenced us much as songwriters.  

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Both of you have dynamic stage presence. How do you translate the intimacy and emotion of your songs into live performances?

Chris: It’s very easy for me to get lost in the songs.  We’ve written about some very personal experiences, from difficult arguments in moments where we didn’t think we’d make it all work to the very happiest times together and everything in between. I feel like we both can mentally go right back to those moments when we perform these songs, and the audience can feel that.  Angie can grab a crowd.  Some of my favorite nights are in small venues when the size of the place just makes it more intimate.  There have been times where everyone is so in tune with everything she says, especially when she tells the story behind the songs.  It’s magical.

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Angie, you mentioned experiencing some difficult times a few years back. How has music been a form of healing or catharsis for you during those times?

Angie: It saved me. Music gave me an outlet to talk about and confront things that were far too difficult to utter out loud to anyone.  When I began writing it was like I finally had this vehicle that let me – actually forced me, to look deep into myself and reconcile a lot of things that I had buried or compartmentalized. I had a lot of things to reconcile and through it all I changed dramatically.  Chris will say, “You Morphed!”, and he isn’t wrong.  

I took a hard look at myself and realized a lot of habits that I had developed where relationships are concerned, and it dawned on me that I had become someone else entirely.  I didn’t hate who I had become per se, but I wasn’t happy nor was I really healthy.  I had gained a lot of weight; I had some medical issues and I just felt like a cog in a wheel.  My life was nothing much beyond going through the motions.  

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Writing was therapy in a lot of ways. I found a counselor that helped me with skills and tools to cope with life in more healthy ways.  During this time writing music became prolific for me.  I have told people that I feel like I finally know why none of us remember being born.  Can you imagine how awful that would be? I think I know what birth feels like now.  The pain, the physical pressure, the feeling of being transported from a cocooned environment to one where you are completely exposed.  It’s traumatic.  That time for me was traumatic but transformative.  

I don’t look the same. I don’t deal with things the same.  I feel like I’ve learned so much and I’m more at peace right now than I’ve ever been.  Music was my outlet, therapy, healing—all the things.  That line in “Surrender” that says, “I’ve changed so much that I don’t recognize when I look in the mirror, but I know I needed the change”….. that line is powerful for me when I reflect on that time and absolute truth.  

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Looking ahead, what are your goals and aspirations for Eleyet McConnell as a musical duo?

Chris: We would love to take some time to branch out and take the show out of our local region. We’ve been planning about how we can do that and still take care of everything we’ve got going on here at home.  We can’t wait to get back into the studio.  Angie and I have written so much material and we want to get it recorded as soon as possible.  New singles will be released soon, and we can’t wait for that.   This year we have stumbled into some cool opportunities to play in larger venues, and we’d love to see a lot more of that.  We are blessed.  We are grateful and sometimes still can’t believe all that’s happening. 

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“Don’t Tell Me Why” delivers a compelling blend of raw emotion and introspective lyrics, wrapped in the rich musical heritage that Angie (Eleyet) and Chris McConnell bring from their diverse influences. The single follows their successful Top 5 UK iTunes hit, “Surrender,” and continues to build on their reputation for creating music that resonates deeply with listeners. The new release comes on the heels of the duo’s recent Josie Music Awards nomination for Best Multi-Genre Duo.

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Artist Spotlight

Exclusive Interview with Country Chart-Topper Ashley Puckett

Ashley, it’s great to have you here. Let’s start from the beginning. Can you share a bit about your journey into music and how your upbringing in North Huntingdon, Pennsylvania, influenced your musical path?

Hi! Thank you for taking some time with me today!
My musical journey started when I was only about 5 years old when I sang my first song from the Dixie Chicks. Sometimes I like to say it even started before, because my mother would sing to me all the time When I was little, and there was always country music playing.  Growing up, I had a great childhood. I was a happy child, always had my parents support for anything I wanted to do.  I didn’t want for anything.  Still to this day, my parents are my biggest fan.  I remember growing up I was writing songs on my swing set outside in the summer. Music was just part of me growing up all the way to where I am now.

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You mentioned being inspired by artists like Lee Ann Womack, Carrie Underwood, and Miranda Lambert. How have these influential figures shaped your style and approach to songwriting and performing?

I love traditional county music. And gals like Miranda allow me to still do what I do because a lot of this genre is moving to pop country, and there’s listeners out there that still want to hear some good ol’ country tunes.  My influences are those who I can follow a path of success and motivation no matter the set backs, and those who have paved ways for others.  These women, among others showed me at an early age that you can be yourself and stick to your roots, and more success will come from that.

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At age sixteen, you picked up the guitar and began writing songs. What was it about songwriting that drew you in, and how did you hone your skills as a songwriter over the years?

Yes, learning to play guitar was a very big part of taking my songwriting to the next level.  For me, songwriting came early also.  It’s always been an outlet for me to express myself.  I’m a very good listener, but when it comes to talking,I usually say it better in song.  It’s a way to remember the good times and help me get through the bad. And the thing is, I’m not the only one who goes through those emotions, so it’s a way to share a way of healing for others, too.

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Your debut album, “Never Say Never,” was a lifelong dream come true. Can you tell us about the process of bringing this album to life and working with industry professionals like Bryan Cole and Doug Kasper?

It truly was nothing short of a dream come true!  I love being on stage, and writing songs, but the part where you get to work with like minded, talented individuals and see your work come to life and share a million creative moments together is by far my favorite part of making music. It’s been a while now since I’ve been in the studio, and I miss it very much!

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The first single from your album, “Medicine,” charted nationally and received widespread acclaim. What was the inspiration behind this song, and how did it feel to see it resonate with audiences?

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When I heard that song for the first time, it spoke to my heart because it was just so raw and beautiful.  There’s an innocence about that one that I felt could touch many different types of people just like it did me. I love acoustic love song, easy listening music, and this one was all of that wrapped in one.
I knew this song had to be part of my debut album because it was a perfect fit to my traditional style, my vocals, and love for beautiful melodies. I love how the audience has taken an immediate interest in me and this song and helped start my mainstream music career.

 “Bulletproof,” released on your birthday, became a #1 iTunes hit in South Africa, and a #1 Radio Hit in the US. What was your reaction to the song’s success, and did you expect it to have such a significant impact?

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Oh my gosh, it was such a surprise to me!  Honestly, when that happened, it gave me a whole new look on my accomplishments to that moment and made me realize that every little success until then had contributed to that very moment.  So I till this day appreciate the little things and the little successes a lot more because I know they will lead to much more.  I was also very surprised to learn about the culture in South Africa and how they outsource music and love country! That was very cool to learn!  I’d love to visit there sometime!

Your single, “What’s Her Name,” was also a radio hit. Can you give us a glimpse into the inspiration behind this track and what listeners should expect from it?

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This one was very fun to record!  It’s very “done me wrong, cheating song country” haha.  A lot of us have unfortunately been in that situation, and it was finally a moment to sing about it!  You put so much into something and give your all to someone who would just rather take it for granted and not show the decency to you that the relationship isn’t working out, they go out and cheat and then play at home like it’s all good and perfect. You’re blind sided. Naturally it makes you wonder who she is and what’s her name.

You mentioned that meeting Bryan and Doug reignited your passion for music and inspired you to pursue your dreams. What is it about your collaboration with them that makes it so special, and how has it influenced your creative process?

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In so many ways!  This opportunity when we all met and decided to move forward gave me my chance at country music.  So I knew my life was changing I just didn’t know how or what to expect.  Throughout the process of making the album, I leaned a lot about the industry and a lot about myself.  I think this project made me a better artist both creatively and professionally.  As I mentioned earlier, when I have the chance to be in the studio, it became my favorite part of my entire career. Just getting to create music from nothing and see it turn into a masterpiece with a bunch of talent in the room making it possible is just beyond amazing.  It also inspired me to keep writing – not that it was going away, but because I saw that the words I put on paper were not just words anymore with an A-cappella melody,  it was a radio hit. That people liked!

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With your new single, “Anchor,” on the horizon, what can fans anticipate from this latest release, and how does it fit into the larger narrative of your musical journey?

I’m very excited to share this one!  I wrote this song on a birthday vacation in Florida. I love the sea and I get most my inspiration lately it seems from the ocean.  This song is a pretty melody, vocal and simple yet story telling song.  My favorite instrument you don’t hear much anymore is steel guitar, so we brought that back here for sure!  After my debut album, I wanted to start sharing my original work, and “Anchor” is going to be a follow up to my first written debut back in 2022, “Tequila”

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That song was accepted very well and made it into the top 80 on the Music Row charts, so I’m hoping this one can set a huge stage for me and my writing and overall career showing that I didn’t just write and sing one song, I’m a songwriter, too, and I have a lot to say and share!

Finally, where can listeners find your music and stay updated on your upcoming releases and performances?

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All major platforms, wherever you listen. Amazon music, Apple Music, pandora, Spotify, or if you’re out and about on the town having a drink, play a song on any AMI Jukebox!  I’m also really big on Facebook and instagram for all things Ashley including upcoming events and performances. You can also check out my website at www.AshleyPuckett.com

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