Country Rising Star, Mary Sarah has been gathering positive buzz with her latest single, “Without You” for quite sometime now. I had the grand opportunity to chat with the former The Voice alumni about her musical beginnings, songwriting, inspirations and her music, among other things.

Mary Sarah began singing around the age of 9 years old, “I began doing vocal lessons about 1-2 times a week for about 3 years. When I turned 12, I ended up going on tour with Kidz Bop!” This was her first experience of life on the road. “We toured across the East Coast and Mid West for about 6 months. It was incredible. After Kidz Bop I went back to Texas and continued to sing in the Opry’s of Texas.”

It was during this period of her life, Mary Sarah set her sights on country music. “At that time I really dove into traditional country music. At 14, I ended up recording my first full album called Crazy Good.” That was when Mary Sarah discovered her initial love for songwriting. “That record was the first time I had dipped my toe in writing music. After that record, I ended up starting a new one at the age of 15. It started with the idea of covering the Classics of country music but then became something bigger. A Duet’s project.”

Mary Sarah continued to record music throughout her teenage years and collaborated with many respected country legends: “From 15-18 years old I spent most of my time in the studio recording with Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, Vince Gill, and more. It was crazy but somehow we did it! ” She adds, “After that, I did a lot of radio touring and performing while releasing that project, called Bridges“.

As the years went by, Mary Sarah realized her endless passion for songwriting when she moved to Nashville. “I don’t remember there being an exact ‘Moment’, it kind of just happened. I moved to Nashville around the age of 17 and that was when I really started writing songs. What I love about songwriting is that it truly is a therapy session. It’s the best!” She shares that her songwriting process changes each time. “I think it really depends on who you write with. For me, I usually like to start with an idea and then base a melody around the idea!”

Those who have heard Mary Sarah’s music know the distinctive soundscape she has embedded in it. She describe her music as “it’s kind of a variety. I don’t like to be put in a box since I am inspired by all different types of genres. Right now, I’d have to say it’s probably closer to a jazz/country vibe!”

Mary Sarah has also injected a heavy amount of fiery independence to her artistic persona, she confesses that her music influences, Patsy Cline, Miranda Lambert, Taylor Swift, and Carrie Underwood have been key parts in her own music journey, “These ladies have been staple pieces in my story of music and have continued to inspire me to never settle for less.”

During a brief slow period in her music career, Mary Sarah decided to audition for the singing competition show, The Voice, “which was an absolute amazing experience for me.” She confesses, “I loved every moment. I grew so much as an artist during my experience. From pushing myself past limits I thought I had, to trusting my inner artistry when choosing songs. It truly was incredible.”

Since the show, Mary Sarah has been busy with songwriting and touring,”I have been able to continue touring, writing, and also having the honor of singing on The Grand Ole Opry stage!” Being a seasoned live performer, you may wonder if she practices any rituals before shows; “PRAY! (laughs). I still get a tad nervous before shows and stopping to pray always gives me peace.” She firmly points out, “it reminds me that I am not just doing this for myself but to help others too in any way I can.”

Her latest single, “Without You” is a heartfelt ballad filled with endless vulnerable storytelling. Mary Sarah describes the inspiration behind the song; “Well, of course a relationship! (laughs) I had been in a 3 year long distance relationship and for those who have been in a long distance relationships know that it really takes effort from both sides to work. Well, I was the one giving all the effort and when that happens, you start to lose yourself. I was blinded for a long time and finally realized what was happening. The relationship ended and it was really tough. When the breakup happened I was in a very big part of my career. So, it was even more tough because I didn’t have the time to be sad. I had to choose between mourning my relationship and focusing on my career and I decided the later choice. I dove into my career and started reminding myself that I don’t need another person to make me happy. That in the end is up to me to find happiness.” She emphasizes, “‘Without You’ isn’t meant to be an “I hate you” breakup song but actually a song to inspire those who might have lost themselves that they are good without someone else!”

Most of the world, sees artists living the perfect life while traveling the world and regard them as supernatural humans but we forget they are humans that have their own everyday challenges. I asked Mary Sarah what hers are: “Health – For me, it’s pretty tough with traveling to keep a consistent healthy schedule. Whether it’s the food I eat or what time I end up going to bed. It’s definitely something that takes a whole lot of discipline.” She also states that music can be challenging. “I say music because when you get to writing and recording, it is a tad tough to choose what you want to release. I think it’s tough because there are opinions coming from left and right but at the end of the day it is up to the artist (myself) to choose what I love most!”

The talented singer says her fans are motivation to keep making music. “I love my fans so much and to hear stories of how songs of mine have affected them and helped them is something that is irreplaceable.” She further remarks; “I am so blessed to have the platform I do and I pray everyday that I will never take it for granted. I also have known pretty much all my life that I will sing forever!”

At the conclusion of our chat, Mary Sarah shares the advice she would give any aspiring singer-songwriters out there; “Work hard. If being an artist is a goal for you, then you have to be willing to put yourself out there and take every opportunity that arises.” She strongly advises “you have to focus on yourself. There are a lot of other people out there trying to do the same thing and if you focus on that, you will lose sight of your own vision for yourself. It definitely isn’t the easiest job in the world so as Ray Price once told me, “surround yourself with those who love you and that you trust.” So, when you do start to lose sight of maybe why you do music or what’s the purpose, your team is there to help you get right back on track!”

The future is looking immensely bright for Mary Sarah and she confesses there is a lot coming up but has to remain secretive for the moment. “I wish I could give you a tell all..but I can’t just yet! I can say that I am continually working on music and working to get music out for my fans. There are some major things happening though…one announcement will be pretty soon so keep your eyes peeled!!”

We can’t wait to see what Mara Sarah has in store next! Make sure to catch all the latest news on Mary Sarah on her official website

Photography by Katie Kauss

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