On the Road With Mary Sarah

1. How did your interest in music get started? Did you sing in church when you were younger? Did your family sing or play instruments?
I began singing at 10 with my piano instructor, who told me since I loved singing so much to sing at the upcoming recital. I did and got a huge ovation singing “The Yellow Rose of Texas.”  I then started singing with my dad in church, and my piano teacher recommended a vocal coach.

My dad is a musician by hobby who accompanies me and sings backup for me sometimes. He played saxophone and sang in high school and college, and four years ago started to play guitar. I play guitar, piano and am learning fiddle/violin. I’ve always been a singer first but LOVE guitar.

2. Have you recorded any albums? How many have you released?

Yes, I recorded one full-length CD called “Crazy Good” when I was 14 and an EP of four songs I wrote when I was 12. “Crazy Good” has nine songs, five of which I wrote, most with my sister Emilee who is an AMAZING piano player and few years older than me.
3. Can you talk a little bit about how your journey began and how it’s led you to where you are today?

At 12 I was selected to be a lead/ensemble performer for KidzBop World Tour, for a 40-city tour, which lasted six months. We traveled and performed all over the upper Midwest and East Coast. I got hooked performing for big crowds and knew I wanted to do that for the rest of my life. I did try L.A. for a while thinking it would be great to be a Disney kid, but I was too homesick. I have been performing all over Texas in the local and regional Opry’s. I’m writing, singing and recording new music.
4. As an artist, what are some of the things you’ve been able to do? (i.e. sing National Anthem at ball games, open for other artists, go on tour…)

The KidZBop World Tour, National Anthem for opening day of the Houston Astros, the College World Series and most recently the Houston Texans. I’ve been helping homeless people, raising charity money for the American Red Cross and doing worship for my youth group and church. I am currently working on a new project, which has put me with some really wonderful artists in Nashville…but I can’t let too much out too soon! Maybe the next interview…
5. Have you met any other artists in Nashville? Who’d you meet and what was the experience like?

I met Joe Bonsall and Duane Allen of the Oak Ridge Boys, and they actually asked me to sing a cappella at their concert in Galveston, Texas. It was incredible. I hope to do it again. I have met quite a few others, but I have to keep a lid on it until we finish the project…so sorry! I met Jimmy Wayne at the Grand Ole Opry and Jaci Velasquez at the Sound Kitchen.
6. What advice did they give you? If you could give an aspiring artist advice about the music industry, what would it be?

Most told me to always be true to yourself, write music from your heart and WATCH OUT for boys! Jaci Velasquez said enjoy each day and have fun. The Oaks just love me and are like my uncles :). They said don’t be in a hurry!! 🙂 I think that’s good advice for everyone!

I think if I had to give advice, I would tell them what I live by, which is some basketball coaches inspired saying. “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.” My mom and I figured out that everyone wants to be Cinderella, but not everyone wants to mop the floors or answer to wicked people…they just want the glass slipper. Be willing to work hard and the timing is not in your hands.
7. Did you have to overcome rejection while making the climb to Nashville? Did they make you a stronger person? In what ways?

Some yes. Some record people are like, “She’s too young” or “Wait three years.” When I hear those things, I’m hurt a little at first but it always just makes me work even harder! I have realized they are right because I love being able to be a regular girl at my high school and performing on the weekends. I did a couple contests when I was younger, and I won a few and lost a few. It was hard to lose, but it was great experience. I really have never had anything but constructive criticism on my voice or guitar…I have great teachers!

8. I can imagine that as an artist, you’re away from home a lot. How does being on the road affect your relationship with your family?

Some, but we always skype, and we try super hard to have everyone come visit when we are on the road. We are so close – my sis Emilee and I write music together, my brother Chris does my website stuff. Dad writes, plays guitar for me and does business and social media for me, and mom is the best mom ever with hugs!! And if we are traveling by van, she is the tour bus driver!

9. Now that the holidays are here, do you have any special holiday memories or traditions with your family?

We have gone skiing. We always go out on Christmas Eve, pool our money and totally bless a hardworking waiter or waitress with a HUGE tip! Mostly Christmas to us is about giving back to others for all the blessings we have had the previous year. We once totally helped a family that had nothing for Christmas by giving them everything. It was an amazing time!

10. How does being an artist affect the holiday season for you? Are you able to take time off to visit family and friends? What do the holidays mean to you?

We are traveling to Nashville the next week for some music meetings and to visit Dollywood, so I’m pretty excited. The holidays are VERY special to me spiritually and for family stuff. My parents used to pastor a church, where I sang a lot, and we had Christmas Eve services, so it is a very special time for us!


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