Sara Evans was out for a walk enjoying the sunshine walking her dog and hoping that she wouldn’t cough her way through our interview and asked me to ignore it if she did. (Evans was battling allergies) She even shared that her dog who is white has changed to the yellow pollen color that is thick all over the sidewalk. Evans opened up about her struggles maintaining and staying relevant with the ever evolving changes in country music today, the success of her latest record, “Slow Me Down” and her secret to surviving as a female country artist in a male dominated genre.
Shannon: Your latest record “Slow Me Down” has been critically acclaimed since its release why do you think fans and media alike have praised it so much?
Sara: I do think it’s a good record I worked so hard on it in the studio and writing for the last two and a half years I knew with the climate of country music I knew it had to be my best, it’s not some of my best work just because It’s so male dominated in our genre and the topic is party music so I really wanted it to stand out. It’s so recognizable Oh yeah this is Sara Evans we have to open the slot for her because her music is so recognizable and really there’s no other women right now on country radio, there was a big article on cmt.com about me and Miranda Lambert being the only females in the top 30.
Shannon: I was going to touch base on that why do you think female country singers have such a hard time breaking in to the top 30 and why is it so heavily male dominated?
Sara: I really don’t know the answer I think what happened was a trend started with Luke Bryan around the time of his “Country Girl Shake it For Me” song and that started a big trend. It’s sad because there are so many amazing female artists in country I just wish it would swing back to being more even how it was when I started there were all these country women on the charts like Trisha Yearwood, Martina McBride, Patty Loveless, Dixie Chicks, LeAnn Rimes, Leann Womack, Reba McEntire. When I got my record deal there were tons of competition in terms of other women, like Jody Messina and now it’s completely the opposite so I think it’s just a trend and I’m hoping that it will be more balanced. Because country music has been historically changed and marked by incredible females like Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, and Tammy Wynette and on and on and on, Dolly Parton, Barbara Mandrell. In saying that, I’m so thankful and I’m truly grateful to God and to the fans and country radio for allowing me to still have that place. I would not want to be a new female artist right now that would be terrifying!
Shannon: You worked again with producer Mark Bright on this record do you think he was able to reach down into your being as an artist and do you feel that is accurately portrayed in the recording that resulted?
Sara: Mark and I worked together on “Real Fine Place to Start” and we had two or three hits from that record. So I love him he’s so fun to work with he has such a positive attitude you can work with some producers that you like sing your heart out and they won’t say a word then they are like, “Alright do you need a water?” (laughs) where Mark is super encouraging he’s a great song guy and that’s what I love about him and he and I are almost competitive to saying no when choosing songs we kind of want to wait until the very last minute in case we find something that’s better.
The lyric is everything to me because I feel like if you got a great lyric, number one, you can do anything with it you can change the melody up a little bit, you can put whatever kind of music you want to it, you can change the tempo, pretty much anything, but a great lyric is a great lyric and I have to believe in the lyric in order for it to be authentic. That’s something I can truly say about my music and my career I’ve never recorded a song that I don’t love and I’ve never not recorded a song because I didn’t think well, radio won’t love this and the fans won’t not love it; so in other words, every song that I choose to record has to be real it has to mean something to me.
You don’t watch a movie over and over again that you don’t love, I mean who does that? That would be insane, I hate this movie but I’m going to watch it, again and again and again! No one would do that, and I couldn’t sing those songs in concert night after night after night, if I didn’t love them.
Shannon: So would you say that your secret to longevity in the industry would be in the lyrics and songs that you sing?
Sara: Absolutely I like to think that I produce great music around them too, I put a ton of thought and time labor and effort into guitar solos, drum parts, the way the drums sound and bass and harmony vocals I’m definitely a co-producer. Part of my longevity is that people know there’s a certain Sara Evan’s sound, last night I had a show in Charlotte and it was an in the round guitar pool with four new male artists and I was the only female and kind of the headliner to the show. Well we are sitting there joking around and one thing that makes me proud it is that every song that I sang last night I was extremely proud of, there was not one single song that I thought, god I’m embarrassed of this song or that I recorded it because I knew it would be a hit, I’ve never done that.
I think the reason you love certain songs or movies is because of your psychology. All the things that have happened to you in your life have gotten you to today. I may have loved a movie when I was fifteen that I watch right now that it seems so different, I’m like oh my gosh this is nothing that I thought it was, because I know so much more now than I did when I was fifteen, so I may not see it the same exact way but at the time you know that movie meant so much to me. So today I would certainly never try to completely repeat any kind of song or album that I recorded early in my career because I’m not the same person. So I have to be true to who I am every single day.
Shannon: How do you continuously keep your music fresh and relevant for your fans?
Sara: Being genuine being exactly who I am today recording songs that are subconsciously influenced by John Mayer and I don’t even know it, because I listened to his record, or Bruno Mars that’s the only way to stay relevant is to be willing to be completely authentic of where you are. I mean Whitesnake would not be able to go into the studio today and record “Here I Go Again On My Own” and have the same long hair and all that, they would have to go in use their same vocal talent and musical talents but they would have to record songs that pertain to who they are today and I know they are not the same people that they were in the eighties (laughs) and if they tried to do that it would not be fresh.
Sara Evans is currently touring in support of her latest record “Slow Me Down.”