Rural Missouri - September 2020 - 45

Missouri's sweetheart of country music
by Heather Berry | hberry@ruralmissouri.coop

proudly. "I'm constantly amazed by their talents."
Before the pandemic hit, Avery and Olivia teamed up
with their mother to release tunes as The Barker Family
screen door squeaks closed in the background.
Band, the name reflecting the music star's married name.
You can imagine Sara Evans is taking this call with
Sara says quarantine has given her more of what she
a cup of coffee while curled up on a porch swing
loves: time with family. Since 2008, that blended family
at her Nashville home. Her warm smile carries
includes husband, Jay Barker - a syndicated sports radio
through the phone as the easy conversation starts.
host and former University of Alabama quarterback - and
"Hey there, thanks for calling," Sara says, as if the
his children: Andrew, 21, Braxton, 20, and twins Harrison
award-winning, multi-platinum country music star
has known the caller for decades.
and Sarah Ashlee, 18.
Hailing from New Franklin, the Missouri
"Avery has been with my band for the past couple of
native doesn't seem to let her family roots get
years," she adds, noting her daughter, Olivia, curtoo far away no matter where the musical road
rently sings backup as she pursues her own music
New
leads. "I've traveled the world, but I'll always be a
career, and brother, Matt, plays bass and is the
Franklin
band's leader.
country girl at heart," Sara quickly proclaims.
Her father, Jack, farmed by day and worked
During this time off, Sara and her daughter,
as a pressman at the Columbia Daily Tribune,
Olivia, have been hosting Instagram live posts on
Monday nights. "We call it Closet Chaos and it's so
while her mother, Patricia, drove a school bus. No
matter what they were doing, the family was likely singing
much fun just hanging out. We laugh, we talk to viewtunes by greats such as Patsy Cline or George Jones beers, and we just act like ourselves," Sara says. "It's been a
cause music was a shared passion with their five children.
great way to just chill during the crazy times these days."
Sara also has been busy promoting her memoir, "Born to
Hearing her kids' talent, Patricia began booking them
Fly." The book, scheduled for release on Sept. 8 by Simon
around Missouri as the Evans Family Band. Those oppor& Schuster's Howard Books, covers everything from her
tunities included performing at annual meetings for Howcareer and marriage to faith and motherhood. Through her
ard Electric Cooperative and Farmers' Electric Cooperative,
own words, readers will see Sara is a survivor on many
as well as Lee Mace's famous Ozark Opry in Osage Beach.
levels. That honesty is probably why fans love her so much.
"I remember saying, 'That little girl has a big voice and is
going to make it big someday,' " recalls Dan Bryan, retired
Music fans can buy her latest cover album which was
manager for Farmers' Electric Cooperative in Chillicothe.
released this past spring and spans six decades of musical styles. "Copy That" is a compilation which includes
By the time Sara was 16, she was belting out leads with
Sara's vocal spin on hits by Patsy Cline, Little Big Town,
the band at Country Stampede, a former dance hall near
Bee Gees, Stevie Nicks, Carole King, The Knack and more.
Columbia. After graduating from New Franklin High School
What makes the project even sweeter for the singer? Avery,
in 1989, Sara received a full-ride scholarship to Central
Olivia and Audrey were part of the recording process.
Methodist University in Fayette but soon realized more
The 49-year-old girl from the Show Me State can defischool wasn't what she wanted. In 1991, she headed to
nitely be proud of her musical road thus far: 7 million alcountry music's mecca, Nashville, to pursue her dream of
bums sold, including five No. 1 hits and a slew of awards.
music full time.
When she's not in Nashville or on the road, Sara makes
Years later, Sara was in studio recording a demo of
her way back home to New Franklin, to family and the root
Buck Owens' "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail" when her music
of what started her career.
dreams began to really come true. Legendary songwriter
"I love when I can get the family back to the farm in
Harlan Howard happened to hear Sara sing and compared
Missouri," Sara says. "None of
her voice to country star
this matters without family you
Loretta Lynn.
love backing you all the way."
Because of that chance
meeting, the Missouri girl
For tour information or to buy
landed a seven-record deal
her latest CD or memoir, check
with RCA Nashville. Her
out www.saraevans.com and
1998 album, "No Place That
follow her on Facebook, InstaFar," garnered the female
gram or Twitter.
singer a breakthrough with
a song by the same name.
Previous page: The cover of Sara's
Sara's children - son,
new bio, "Born to Fly." Left: A photo
Avery, 21, and daughters,
from the family archives of The Evans
Olivia, 17, and Audrey,
Family Band includes Sara and her siblings.
15 - have always known
From left are Sara, her sister, Lesley,
their Mom's bus as home
brothers Matt and Jay and sister, Ashley.
away from home. "Like my
family, all of my kids got the
cover photo courtesy of Lowfield; family photo
musical gene," Sara adds
courtesy Sara Evans.

A

SEPTEMBER 2020 | RURALMISSOURI.COOP

45


http://www.saraevans.com http://www.RURALMISSOURI.COOP

Rural Missouri - September 2020

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