Note: The below story was written by Sue Guynn. You can read the below story as well as all you need to know about the local country music scene on her blog, Three Chords And The Truth.
Look out bro-country music, because bra-country is on the move. And that makes country artist Sara Evans happy.
Evans came to stardom in the 1990s, the days when the power songs of Reba McEntire, Faith Hill and even Evans defined country music. After the recent years of songs about partying, pickup trucks, beer and girls (aka bro-country) country music is slowly changing its tune with more women artists (aka bra-country) filling the airwaves again.
The timing is perfect for Evans, who is about to head to the studio to record her eighth album and her debut project for Sugar Hill Records, a Nashville-based imprint that is part of the Concord Music Group she signed with in August 2016.
Listening to songs, writing songs and song selections are keeping her busy these days, but on Feb. 12, Evans will be in concert at the Weinberg Center for the Arts, 20 W. Patrick St., Frederick. The show starts at 7 p.m. and tickets are $49, $59 and $69. For tickets, call the Weinberg Center box office at 301-600-2828 or visit www.weinbergcenter.org.
Evans began recording Jan. 30. Mark Bright, who helmed her “Real Fine Place” album and her 2014 single “Slow Me Down,” is the producer.
“As soon as we get it finished, probably in May or so, we’ll launch the first single,” Evans said in a recent phone interview from her home in Alabama that she shares with her husband, Jay Barker, and their combined seven kids.
Working with her new label has been “an incredible experience,” Evans said, with the label giving her the green light to do what she wants musically.
The upcoming album will be traditional Sara and, maybe, a little more pop than previous albums. “But it will definitely be a Sara Evans record,” Evans said, explaining that her albums typically include a couple of traditional country songs and a few that are more pop country.
“That’s what makes it exciting being a musician, being a songwriter, being an artist. You don’t know what’s coming your way, what songs are going to be presented to you … especially this time,” she said.
“There’s been so much bro-country so there’s now tons and tons of great songs that haven’t been recorded,” Evans said.
The night before her interview with 72 Hours, Evans said she and her husband were up until midnight listening to music. Her kids, all musically talented, too, also give her input into songs she is considering.
“I’ve had one song on hold for four months,” Evans said. “It’s one of the saddest songs I’ve ever heard. When we listened to it I bawled all over again!”
Like her No. 1 single “A Little Bit Stronger,” this song (she couldn’t reveal the title yet) will appeal to many people. “It’s about someone leaving you by any means, through a breakup, through death,” she said. “It’s just beautiful the way it is written.”
Evans’ No. 1 country singles include “No Place That Far,” “Suds in the Bucket,” “A Real Fine Place to Start,” “Born to Fly” and “A Little Bit Stronger.” Her 2014 album, “Slow Me Down,” debuted at No. 2 on the Country Album Chart and landed in the Top 10 on the Billboard 200 chart.
In addition to being a songwriter, Evans is a published author of three novels (“The Sweet By and By,” “Love Lifted Me” and “Softly and Tenderly”) and co-writes a lifestyle, food, health, fashion and travel blog, A Real Fine Place, with her sister-in-law. She is now in talks about the possibilities of a fourth book of nonfiction about her life, her perspective on life on the road and being an artist, wife and mother, and the challenges of juggling it all. Her three children, now 12, 13 and 17, were potty-trained and learned to walk on the tour bus on the road with her, she said.
For today’s young adults trying to juggle family and career, especially a music career, the Missouri native offers some words of wisdom: “Take your babies with you. Travel with your children. That makes everything better. It’s a great way for the kids to grow up. They’re around adults, they’re more mature,” she said.
“The second tip: Only surround yourself with people who understand the importance of your children and that they are your first priority. If your manager doesn’t get that, if your record label doesn’t get that there are plenty of people who do and will,” she said. “It is possible to have both.”