Herald JournalHerald Journal, June 9, 2003

Interview with Sara Evans

By Ryan Gueningsman

"Mommy, where are my (toy) handcuffs?" asks country singer Sara Evans' three-year-old son Avery during our interview.

"They're probably in the toy box," his mother responds.

It's clear that right now, Evans is enjoying the best of both worlds ­ being a top country singer, and also a mother of two young children. Evans and her husband Craig Schelske recently had their second child, Olivia, in January.

Evans' love of both music and family stem from her Missouri childhood, in which she played in her family's bluegrass band, taking on the singing and performing at the tender age of four.

"I would not be the singer and performer that I am had I not had the background that I have," she said. "I think a lot of people think in their minds 'I'd love to be a singer,' but they don't really know how to go about it or get into it."

Throughout her high school years, Evans continued to perform, even though not always completely enjoying it.

"There was a time period in junior high where I hated it," she said. "It just got to where we were sort of little celebrities in Missouri, so I couldn't do anything else like go to school dances ­ I was always working. But looking back on it, I'm very grateful to my mom for insisting that I did that."

Upon turning 20, Evans moved to Nashville to pursue her dream of writing and recording. She met her husband while the two of them were employed at a Holiday Inn near Nashville.

Evans and Schelske eventually moved back to his home state of Oregon and became members of his family band, opening for artists like Tim McGraw and Willie Nelson. In 1993, Evans and Schelske were married, and two years later they moved back to Nashville to give the music business another shot.

A little later, songwriting legend Harlan Howard heard Evans recording his classic "Tiger By the Tail," and urged record label execs to take a listen to her voice. She signed a recording contract with RCA in 1996.

"I was a little bit disillusioned," she said about finally having a record deal. "It was wonderful to have the record deal but, at the time, I thought I had arrived and I made it. I had no idea that was just the beginning and that you needed to have success on the radio first."

"At the same time, it was incredible. I was so ready to just get my music out there to the world."

Right off the bat, Evans did a 14-week intense radio tour ­ three or four stations a day at times.

"It's like the campaign trail," she said.

Another campaign trail Evans is familiar with is the political side.

Her husband is continuing his political aspirations, and is thinking about running again for a Congressional seat in Oregan.

"They really want him to run again in the '04 election. He's not sure because when he ran last time, we were apart for the entire time. That was really, really difficult. We just haven't decided if he's going to do it in '04 or if he's going to wait," she said.

Since signing her contract, Evans has been making her way up in the ranks of country stars. She has had several top hits, including "No Place That Far," "Born to Fly," and "I Could Not Ask For More."

She was also the most-nominated female at the 2001 Academy of Country Music awards with seven nominations.

Evans is currently putting the finishing touches on her fourth album, which will be released in August, called "Restless."

"'Restless' is sort of like taking the song 'Born to Fly,' and making the whole album based around that song," she said.

"Once I wrote and recorded 'Born to Fly,' I truly discovered who I was as a singer, and as an artist," Evans said. So, I wrote a lot of songs on this new record with Marcus Hummon, who I wrote 'Born to Fly' with, and I'm just very proud of it, very excited about it.

"It's very rootsy, some of the songs are artsy, some are just really wacky. I can't wait for everybody to hear it."

Her first single released to radio off of "Restless" is "Backseat of a Greyhound Bus," which is currently in the low 20s on the charts.

"'Backseat of a Greyhound Bus' is a real good example of the direction of this album," she said. "It got off to kind of a slow start with all the war stuff, but we're doing fine now.

"People always say you can tell the real deal, and I feel like there's nothing fake about what I do. It's just always been my life."

Her stop at Winstock will be one of her first live dates in awhile.

"I'm so excited to be back on the road. That (Winstock) is the first week of the tour. We're very excited and a little bit nervous, and we can't wait for everybody to meet Olivia," she said.

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