Mary Sarah is an up and coming young country singer. She started singing at eight years of age and was already touring by the time she was twelve. Mary just released a CD on Cleopatra records called "Bridges". On this CD, Mary performs duets with a who's who of country music royalty. It features major stars such as Dolly Parton, Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Tanya Tucker, The Oak Ridge Boys and more. This rising star has nowhere to go but on to national stardom.
M.S. - Hello
R.V.B. - Hello Mary?
M.S. - Yes this is her.
R.V.B. - Hi Mary this is Rob calling from New York. How are you today?
M.S. - I am good.
R.V.B. - Are you in Texas?
M.S. - No, I'm in Tennessee right now.
R.V.B. - In the Nashville area?
M.S. - Yes, In Franklin just about 25 minutes outside Nashville.
R.V.B. - Do you live there now?
M.S. - Yes, but kinda back and forth from Texas and Tennessee.
R.V.B. - Oh I see, I was in Nashville last March and I loved it.
M.S. - It's a great place. It's my second home.
R.V.B. Uh Ha, well congratulations on your new CD. You must be proud of it?
M.S. - Oh my gosh am I. I'm so excited to get to release it after three years working on it.
R.V.B. - Oh really, that's how long it took?
M.S. - Yeah we started when I was fifteen and it finished when I was eighteen.
R.V.B. - So you recorded that in Nashville I presume?
M.S. - Yes sir
R.V.B. - Was it all done in the same studio? Did your guest stars come to the same studio at different times through the course of making it?
M.S. - Yes, most of the time I didn't get to be in the studio with them but like Willie and Merle... I didn't get to because scheduling wise it just didn't really work out but I did get to sing with Willie and meet him of course. Although yes it was all done in Nashville.
R.V.B. - When you were a little girl were you always into country music. Did your parents listen to country music?
M.S. - You know my parents in the beginning when I started singing... I heard country once in a while but my parents actually pastored a church so I was around a lot of Christian music and It wasn't until I went on tour with "Kidz Bop" when I was 12 years old and i came home and started to listen to a lot more country music. I started to sing in the Texas Opry's. It's like the "Grand Ole Opry" here... they have like a lot smaller versions in Texas.
R.V.B. - So you kinda worked yourself up with social media. How did a young girl get so popular so quick?
M.S. - You know social media just kind of happens. I was on there and started with it and never thought it would get to where it got today. You know all the fans and meeting people and I would always just say "Oh go follow me on twitter, go follow me on twitter". It just kind of added up after a couple of years.
R.V.B. - What were some of the first songs that you started out with? What did you like to sing when you were very young?
M.S. - The first song that I actually ever sang at a recital which was my first performance ever was "The Yellow Rose of Texas". (hahaha) So it was a very special to me and it was the first one I ever sang in public. I was a big fan of Carrie Underwood at the time and especially Maranda Lambert... kind of the powerhouse singers because I kind of gravitate towards that. As far as the traditional country, I love Patsy Cline, Loretta lynn, Tammy Wynette and like I said a lot of the powerhouse singers.
R.V.B. - Did you take formal lessons? Did you start with an instrument or did you start singing right away?
M.S. - You know I actually started with piano and I would sing the songs while I played. The teacher went to my parents one time and he said "Hey she actually has a voice. you should probably get her vocal lessons and I have this great coach". So he recommended Tom Mckinney and I started doing vocal lessons every week and i just kind of sprouted from there.
R.V.B. - Now you said that you went on tour when you were twelve. How did you work school work in? Was it difficult?
M.S. - You know it was very hard for me especially because the only time you really had... we had a tudor on tour and on the bus and so anytime we really had time to do school work was on the bus. For me it was very hard because I got headaches... really, really bad migraines that just wouldn't go away. So I would end up like having to sleep it off. My mom and I decided every night before bed we would work on my school work and all that because it just wasn't something that was easy but as far as the tour and everything, at twelve years old it was like the dream life. I loved it so much. It was five other kids with me so it wasn't like I was alone and so we were having the time of our lives.
R.V.B. - Where did that tour take you? All across the United States?
M.S. - Just across the east coast and mid west.
R.V.B. - Did you make it up to New York?
M.S. - I did. You know what was really funny is our bus driver accidently (hahaha) drove through New York and you weren't supposed to... like you're not supposed to drive big busses down in Manhattan and in that area, (hahaha) and so he got caught in there and we were all like freaking out... like we're not supposed to be on this road... we're not supposed to be on here. It was a funny experience.
R.V.B. - Where were you heading?
M.S. - We were heading to the Izod center in New Jersey.
R.V.B. - Oh yeah, that's right by the Meadowlands... right near where the Giants play. I've seen a few shows there myself.
M.S. - Oh yea and we did that and it was so much fun. It was a big place too.
R.V.B. - So you said you went on tour with five other kids?
M.S. - Yes it was me and five other kids and two adults that were the lead singers.
R.V.B. - What was the name of that tour?
M.S. - It was just Kidz Bop World Tour.
R.V.B. - I see, were there any memorable experiences? Any shows that stick out?
M.S. - Yeah I've got a lot I think. So far ok there was one point at Kidz Bop where it was actually where I figured out that I wanted to sing for the rest of my life. It was in a theater and I remember we were in the basement and getting ready and I was looking on the walls because they were all signed. I saw Patsy Cline had signed the wall and a lot of my favorite artists had signed the wall. There was already this kind of a feeling over the day... I was already excited about the show that night because you know Patsy Cline had sang there and a lot of the greats sang here so I was kind of freaken' out. I remember going out to sing that night... I had a solo and when I walked out to sing my solo, I could hear the crowd singing along with me and it sounded just like a choir of angels. I just sort of remember coming off the stage that night and feeling this overwhelming of like happy... crying like happy tears and I went up to my mom and said "I don't know what this feeling is but I want to do this for the rest of my life". Moments like that are worth it all and so that was a big moment in my life because that's when I decided, hey I'm really gonna work hard at this.
R.V.B. - That sounds like a beautiful moment. Do you remember what theater that was?
M.S. - I think it was the Fox in Detroit.
R.V.B. - Oh I see. So I watched a video of you singing the Star Spangled Banner and I mean your voice was so powerful I thought the light bulbs were gonna crack.
M.S. - Oh my gosh (haha) I was so nervous before that. There was over like 70,000 people there and that was the biggest audience I'd sang for so far so I was freaking out about it. You know a lot of Star Spangled Banners you have to do it a capella and you have to remember your keys and all that. So we're walking down the sidelines to get ready and I had passed by this huge speaker that was playing music for about 70,000 people so it was loud. Like Loud, loud, loud and we were passing by it and it kind of like killed my ears. So when I went out to sing that anthem I actually sang it a whole step higher than I was supposed to sing it.
R.V.B. - Yeah if you start that song off wrong, when you get to the crescendo part you really have to let it loose.
M.S. - Yeah there's no going back. (hahaha)
R.V.B. - Well it sounded real good and it looked like the audience really enjoyed it.
M.S. - Well thank you. Yeah I get to do a lot of national anthems. That's one thing that I really love to do because if I can pay respect to my country in any way and if I can sing, I'm a 100% there. I get to do a lot of them and I try to at least do as many as I can during the year, when it fits my schedule and everything like that.
R.V.B. - When you go on tour these days, do you get teamed up with any of your idols.
M.S. - I've actually gotten to sing with the Oak Ridge Boys for about the past four years now and they found me actually before the project... before even "Bridges" started. They tweeted me out of nowhere. Joe Bonsall from the Oak Ridge Boys Tweeted me and was like "Hey I've seen your You-tube videos. Why don't you come down to Galveston and have dinner... check out the rehearsal and see our show". At first I was like "Is this real"? (hahaha) I didn't even know the Oak Ridge Boys were tweeting or anything like that. (ha). So we ended up going down to Galveston and I went to dinner and Joe Bonsall looked at me and said "Hey, do you know anything a cappella"? and at the time I had sang "Where the Boys Are" by Connie Francis for a long, long time. It was something that was really easy to sing a cappella so I was about to get up and sing it and he looked at me and said "No, no, no, no, no, I want you to sing it at the show tonight. At the time I was 14 turning 15. They asked me to do that and I was freaking out because they sell out the Galveston Opera House like every year. So for him to ask me on a whim like that just watching my You-tube videos is absolutely amazing. So I've gotten to do it every year since which is really cool and then another thing that's really cool is that i got to sing with Willie at his 4th of July picnic last year. So crazy, I was literally hyperventilating before I got to go out there and sing with him. (haha)
R.V.B. - That's nice and it sounds like things are really taking off for you. You should be proud of yourself.
M.S. - Thank you.
R.V.B. - So I noticed that the name of the new CD is "Bridges". Was that your decision to name it that?
M.S. - You know it took us a while... us meaning kind of the whole team to figure out what we really wanted to name it. For me this project was a big part of connecting the generations because I sang in the Opry's for years and throughout high school people would ask me who Patsy Cline is... and would ask me like "Who is Merle Haggard?". I was like, how do you not know these legends? They've been here forever and you guys don't even know what they've done in this music industry. So it just really surprised me so when working on this project.... the idea of bridges is... a bridge connects one place to another. That was really why we picked that because I really wanted to connect the generations. Young and old.
R.V.B. - Did you have a CD release party or a performance when it rolled out?
M.S. - Yeah I got to do this, in Texas we did a CD release party at the "Muckey Duck". It ended up selling out the show which was so crazy. People were like standing and waiting in line. It was very crazy. It was my first CD release party too, so you know for that to sell out like that was just very cool. After I go to New York I will be going to Florida and I think on the 24th i'll be doing a CD release party at the Flora-bama.
R.V.B. - Oh very nice, so you are coming to New York?
M.S. - Yes I'll be headed up to New York on Wednesday.
R.V.B. - Oh nice, Where are you playing?
M.S. - Well I have a couple things. I'm gonna be on the "Huckabee" show. So that will be exciting and then "Good Day New York" and then on Fox 411.
R.V.B. - So you're getting some nice publicity. Are you gonna support the CD by going on tour soon?
M.S. - Yes, Yeah. I'm kind of figuring out the details right now but I will be getting to sing with Merle Haggard soon in August, which I'm very excited about. We'll get to sing our song together. I'll get to open up for him with about a thirty minute set in La Grange Texas. So I'm very excited about that.
R.V.B. - When you play on a tour like this would you be opening for someone or headlining your own shows?
M.S. - I have a couple of dates on my own where I headline but I will definitely be opening up for Merle because he is the man (hahaha) but as far as other shows yeah I do headline. It's always really fun.
R.V.B. - Oh very nice, well it sounds like you're on your way to becoming a superstar. When you're finished with this do you have anything in mind for your next project? Are you writing anything? Let me ask you this, when you do write do you write it on the piano or the guitar?
M.S. - I am totally guitar, you know I played the piano for a little bit but I ended up stopping for singing. Then I picked up guitar which it really took me forever to pick it up. I picked it up for one year then it was like "Oh my fingers hurt" it was like "This hurts too bad" so I stopped and then I picked it up again I've been playing it for about 4 years I think. I love writing with my guitar. For me I have to have melody... it's a big thing for me. I always pick up my guitar to write a song.
R.V.B. - Do you write songs first and then put lyrics over it or do you have lyrics and put a song to it?
M.S. - Usually I kinda do it together. I play a melody on the guitar and do the lyrics as I go.
R.V.B. - Well good luck on your shows this week. I'll be watching them. So again congratulations, have a great tour and stay safe.
M.S. - Thank you so much for interviewing me today.
R.V.B. - It was my pleasure.
M.S. - Alright have a good day.
Interview conducted by Robert von Bernewitz
No portion of this interview may be reproduced in any part of form
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Photo credit. Russ Harrington
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