Born to Fly

Made for country music, Sara Evans starting sharing her gift from the age of 5, when she fronted The Evans Family Band with her brothers. She continued performing throughout her adolescence and knew one day she was destined for Nashville.

After graduating high school, Evans worked to save up money and made her move to the country music capitol in the early ’90s. After recording some demos, she landed a record deal with RCA Records and released her first album under the label in 1997. The following year she earned her first No. 1 single with “No Place That Far” off of her second album of the same name.

Evans used that momentum to propel her into the spotlight with her next album, 2000’s “Born to Fly,” which was certified double platinum. The title track earned her a second No. 1 on the country charts and several award nominations that year, including a Country Music Association Award win for Music Video of the Year.

Her next two albums in 2003 and ’05 each garnered another No. 1 single for the star, including “Suds in the Bucket” and her cover of “A Real Fine Place to Start.” She won the Academy of Country Music Award for Top Female Vocalist in 2005.

She released a Greatest Hits compilation in 2007, but fans had to wait until 2011 for another new studio album. Evans came back with “Stronger,” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Top Country Albums. The album’s lead single, “A Little Bit Stronger,” also topped the charts.

Her final albums under RCA would be “Slow Me Down” and a full-length Christmas album with covers and originals, titled “At Christmas,” both of which were released in 2014.

She launched her own record company, called Born to Fly Records, and released her ninth studio album in July 2017 called “Words.” In 2019 she worked with her children to produce an EP called “The Barker Family Band,” as well as a live album recording. Her latest project was a collection of country and pop covers released in 2020 titled “Copy That.”

Evans is currently working on her next album, while also hitting the road on her Go Tell It On the Mountain Christmas Tour. She will make a holiday stop at the Edgewater’s E Center Saturday, Nov. 26. Here’s what she had to say about the show and her career.

It has been 25 years since your first album was released. Back then, could you have imagined where your career would take you?

Growing up on a farm in Missouri and singing in bands since I was 5 years old, all I would dream about was moving to Nashville and becoming a country star. Following this path has truly felt like it was meant to be. I’m so thankful for all of the successes I’ve had and continue to work hard to achieve more.

How did you learn to navigate the challenges being a new female artist in country music?

Performing in and leading bands at such a young age prepared me to hit the ground running once I signed a record deal. When I first came out on RCA Records, it was a good time in country music history to be a female artist. So I was lucky to come out when I did and not face the lack of radio play that current female artists are dealing with. When I hit the scene, there were so many strong female voices being championed, from Reba to Faith Hill, The Chicks, LeAnn Rimes, Wynonna, Patty Loveless — the list goes on and on. Even though we all are competitive and wanted success, it was nice to have many of us having great success.

When you came out with “Born to Fly,” did it feel as though you’d finally made your mark on the industry?

My first No. 1 single was “No Place That Far,” which came out on the album before “Born to Fly.” Having that validation really lit a fire in me and propelled me to take things to the next level. With “Born to Fly,” things felt different. It felt like I had really found my sound and come into my own as an adult artist. I was the most nominated artist at the CMA Awards that year, and having that approval from the industry did feel really good.

Why did you decide to start your own label and how has that changed your entire process?

I’m so grateful to have had so many years and successes while on RCA Records. I’ll always be grateful to Joe Galante and Renee Bell for signing me there and championing me. After many years together, I decided I wanted to run the show and do things my way, so I started Born to Fly Records. I always had a great working relationship with RCA, but it’s been nice to have complete control over what I record, the images and visuals for each project, etc. It’s just a freedom to think outside of the box, which is what we did with my “Copy That” album.

Why did you want to do the full cover album, “Copy That?”

I’ve always wanted to do a cover album and have usually recorded at least one cover song on most of my albums. I love to do covers live in my show, usually in the encore, so recording a full album of all covers seemed like a natural thing to do. We tried really hard to honor the original artists and songs, yet still put that “Sara Evans spin” on each song.

Which song was the most fun to record on that album?

Each song had its own special moment but I think the most rewarding and challenging was “Whenever I Call You Friend,” which features Phillip Sweet from Little Big Town. That song has crazy harmony parts and background vocals and we tried really hard to recreate all of them. My producer and I would listen over and over to the original with Stevie Nicks and Kenny Loggins to make sure we didn’t miss anything. I’m so proud of how that song turned out and am so thankful for Phillip for singing it with me and knocking it out of the park.

What is it like getting to work with your children on a few projects in recent years?

Working with my kids is always so fun and feels so natural. Growing up, two of my brothers were in the band with me and then later on two of my sisters also sang harmony vocals, so my shows have always felt like a family affair. My kids grew up on the road learning to walk on the tour bus, so once they got old enough to perform themselves and had their own love of music, it just felt natural. We did “The Barker Family Band” projects, both the EP and the “Live From City Winery” project, and I’m so thankful to have those memories we’ll look back on together years from now.

My daughter Olivia performs on the road with me now and is pursuing her own career as a solo artist. My son Avery is on the road with a new country artist, Connor Smith, and they’ve been opening up for Thomas Rhett. My youngest daughter Audrey is an incredible dancer and is starting to get into acting, so they all have that creative gene and are pursuing their own passions.

What has been your biggest career accomplishment and what would you still like to do in the future?

Winning ACM Top Female Vocalist is probably the highlight so far. I’ve been lucky to have so many amazing things happen throughout my career, from five No. 1 singles on the radio, to selling millions of albums, writing and releasing a memoir, getting to perform with artists like Maroon 5, Joe Walsh and so many more. As much as I’m proud of all that I’ve done, I feel like I’m just getting started too in so many ways. I’m about to start working on my next album of all new material and am looking forward to expanding my career into more TV and film projects too.

What can fans in Laughlin expect from your Go Tell It On the Mountain Christmas Tour?

The Christmas tour is probably my favorite time of year to be on the road. There’s just such a light and fun feeling in the air on those shows. My son Avery is going to be joining us for most of the shows, which is always nice. We do many of the songs from my “At Christmas” album, some other holiday favorites and of course, a few of my non-Christmas hits. We do our best to make sure the fans have a great time and leave with a smile on their face.