by Eric Stearley
Country music star Sara Evans is coming to the Honeywell Center Friday, Jan. 7., just two months before the release of her seventh studio album “Slow Me Down.”
One of seven children, Evans got an early start on her music career, singing in her family band from the age of 5. A Missouri native, Evans lived in Nashville for most of her career, releasing her first studio album Three Chords and the Truth in 1997. Her second album, No Place That Far, earned Evans her first Gold record, it’s title track climbing to the number one spot on the Hot Country Songs chart.
After a short stint on Dancing With The Stars, Evans filed for divorce in late 2006. She remarried in 2008 and currently resides outside Birmingham with her husband and three children.
On Monday, Jan. 27, Evans took a few minutes before a trip to the grocery store to answer a few questions about her life, her new album, and her upcoming trip to the Honeywell Center.
Q: What was it like growing up as a singer and performing at such a young age?
A: Music was a huge part of my family, and so when you start doing something that young, I mean, I was gifted as a singer, and so I don’t remember doing anything else. Everyone in my hometown and school just accepted that that’s who Sara Evans was. All of my siblings are musically talented, and it was just kind of what we did. We were farmers, and we also performed music, and so we would be traveling all the time on the weekends to play rodeos and fairs and festivals. I grew up singing in bars in cover bands, so when I was 10 years old, I would go do a four hour gig, you know covering all the country songs, like Reba McEntire and Loretta Lynn and all that stuff, so it was awesome.
There were times where I hated it because I wanted to be normal and I was a big athlete. I was very into sports, and so sometimes it conflicted with other things that I wanted to do. It’s been that way my whole life and still is today. When you book shows, you have to commit to them. It definitely takes priority over anything else, so you have to find a way to balance it. I used to say I never celebrated a regular New Years Eve growing up, because we always played a gig on New Years Eve, but I wouldn’t change anything, because it taught me so much and that experience is just invaluable.
Q: Speaking of balance, what’s it like trying to balance being a country music star with being a mom?
A: Well it’s funny. Of course, you know I have a new album coming out March 11, and you know it’s always a really, really busy time, and it can be stressful, but also very exciting and fun. You know, you’re doing all the press and everything that surrounds launching an album. Growing up the way I grew up, on a farm with six siblings, my mother cooked, and still does cook, three meals a day. I learned the value of being domestic and cooking, cleaning, being a wife, being a mother. I learned the value of that, the importance of that, and so to me, it is just as important as being successful in my career.
So, I do have trouble finding a balance sometimes, because if I have to leave and be away from my children, then I feel really guilty, but then when I’m home, if I’m not working or I feel like I could be doing more with my career, then I feel guilty about that. So it’s definitely something that I have to work on, but I’ve been doing it long enough now, my oldest child is 14, so I’ve been a mom in the music industry for long enough now that I feel like I’ve got it figured out, you know what I mean?
Q: What inspired your first Platinum single, A Little Bit Stronger?
A: Well I didn’t write it, it was written by Hillary Scott with Lady Antebellum. I know she talked about a boyfriend that broke up with her, and she was madly in love with him, and he just dumped her out of the blue. That was her inspiration, but for me, I just thought it was a great song. I just thought it was so cool how vulnerable the song is and how the singer is talking about, “I am getting better, but I’m not totally there yet, and it’s baby steps,” and I just thought that was a really realistic and sad take on it, going through something hard.
Q: Looking back now, you’ve got two “Greatest Hits” albums. Did you always foresee this? Did you always know that you were going to be a country music star releasing “Sara Evans Greatest Hits?”
A: You know, I think I did. Like I said, it was so ingrained in me at an early age that this is who I am. I accepted it, my family accepted it, my siblings accepted it. To answer your question, did I know? I think I did. I just feel like I’m one of those people that didn’t have to search and look for what I was going to do with my life. I just feel like it was laid out for me, and I just knew that this was in the cards for me. I hoped that it would involve hit records and touring and awards and stuff, so that’s just kind of what I worked for.
Q: You said that you have a very musically talented family. Are any of your siblings doing music professionally?
A: My brother, Matt, is my bass player and my band leader, and his wife is my stylist, so they are both on the road with me. Everybody else still lives in Missouri. A couple of them have local cover bands that they do, both of my sisters have sang on my record and toured with me at different times, but neither of them are doing it right now. They’re both stay-at-home moms, and they both have really young children. Everybody can play an instrument and sing, but Matt and I are the two that pursued it professionally.
Q: I asked some of our readers and your fans to submit their questions. The first one is, “Are most of your songs based on your life events? Do you write them for fun, for others, or for yourself?”
A: You know, not very many songs are based on my life events. All the songs that I write are inspired by something, something that I watched on TV or something that I heard someone say, or you know, an experience that I watched a friend go through. I would say “Born to Fly” is the one true song that has truly been written about my life. It talks about growing up on the farm and loving my home, but also dreaming of the day that I can leave and go pursue my dreams. The inspiration for my song writing comes from anywhere and everywhere.
A lot of times it will come from my co-writers. They come to Birmingham and we go out in my little studio that I have, and often times they will have something that they like to write about and we’ll go with that, or vice versa, so it comes from everywhere. I’m not one of those songwriters that can write when things…sometimes you hear people say, “well I went through one of the hardest times of my life, and that’s when I wrote my best album,” and I’m just the opposite. If I’m really stressed in my personal life, I cannot be creative, because I can’t think about anything but the stress.
Q: The second reader submitted question is, “What country star do you look up to the most?”
A: I’ve always loved Reba McIntire. I just think she’s so cool and you know, she’s such a hard worker, and she’s truly a gifted singer. She’s just one of those people, and I’ve toured with her before, and she’s just fabulous to work with. She was probably my biggest vocal inspiration as a child.
Q: The last reader submitted question is, “Who would you most like to do a duet with?”
A: Well I have two duets on my new album, one is with Isaac Slade from The Fray, and the other is with Gavin DeGraw, and those were both dreams come true. I’m super excited and proud of those two songs. Both of those, I think, will be singles, I hope. You know, I’ve always wanted to do a duet with Dwight Yoakam. I absolutely love him. That’s probably, in country music, who I’d like to do that with.
Q: I saw that you had done a duet with Gavin DeGraw. He’s actually going to be coming to the Honeywell Center in April. Do you have anything to say about him or about working creatively with him?
A: He’s fabulous. I actually covered his song, and so we asked him to come in and do harmony, and he just….he took the song to a whole other level. He’s an amazing singer and songwriter, and I just, I’m just in love with his voice. Fans are gonna love it.
Q: Other than those two duets, what should people expect when they pick up Slow Me Down in March.
A: Well I think it’s my favorite album I’ve ever made, You know, all the songs were really challenging, and I tried to kind of up my game vocally on this project and do things that were really hard and challenging. I just feel like everything came together on this project perfectly. The songs, the musicians that we chose, the background singers, all of it; I just cannot wait for my fans to hear it.
Q: Anything you’d like to add before I let you go?
A: I’ll be performing there two days after my birthday, so we can celebrate my birthday!
Sara Evans will take the stage at the Honeywell Center’s Ford Theatre Friday, Feb. 7 at 7:30 p.m.