Keeping It In The Family: Sara Evans returns to the road with her “All the Love Tour”

Country music star Sara Evans will bring her “All the Love Tour” to Mystic Lake Casino in Prior Lake, Minnesota on March 16 as part of the CMT Next Women of Country Tour. Joining Evans will be up-and-comers RaeLynn and Kalie Shorr.

Evans, a lifelong performer who was born and raised in Boonville, Missouri, honed her craft in bars and honky tonks earlier in her career before hitting it big with the 1998 chart-topper, “No Place That Far.” Evans has five No. 1 singles on her resume, including “Suds in the Bucket,” “A Real Fine Place to Start,” “Born to Fly” and “A Little Bit Stronger.” Her 2000 studio album, “Born To Fly,” her most successful to date, is certified double-platinum. Her latest album, and ninth overall, “Words,” was released last summer.

In a recent interview, Evans discussed her upcoming album, the constant search for songs that “fit,” and balancing her family and road life.

You have new music coming out this year so tell us about your song search process and co-producing with famed producer Mark Bright.
I always get so excited when I start working on a new album and begin the song search. Finding songs is really a collaborative process and in addition to myself, there are some key people who know what I’m going to like and what my “sound” is — my producer Mark Bright, manager Craig Dunn, and on this project  — Tracy Gershon on A&R. It’s like we’re all in this scavenger hunt together to try and find the most amazing songs. I like to meet with publishers and have them play me their “best of the best” pitches which also gives me the chance to tell them why I did or didn’t like a song and what exactly I’m looking for. They usually go back after the meeting and send even more amazing options based on what we talked about. My manager actually went out to a few women writer’s rounds and found some amazing songs and we have 14 different female songwriters on the record. I like having everyone on the hunt because everyone has a different ear and might hear something that I wouldn’t hear. Collectively, I couldn’t be more proud of this selection of songs. I think it’s the strongest album I’ve ever assembled and can’t wait for everyone to hear it. Working with Mark Bright is like putting on a glove that just fits perfectly. This will be the fourth album that we’ve made together and each time just gets easier and more fun. Mark has an incredible ear for finding great songs but he’s also an amazing musician. He can imagine what even a simple guitar vocal demo can turn into and bring it to life. I have a huge amount of trust with him that he’s going to make a great album with me, and it’s rare that we disagree on a song choice, a vocal part, etc. I absolutely love working with him.

Your tour schedule keeps you on the road a lot. How do you balance family and tour life?
It’s definitely not easy, but I’ve been balancing being a wife, mom, artist, friend, etc. for so many years, that we just kind of settle into a chaotic groove. My friends like to joke that I’m “Hannah MOMtana” because I have the best of both worlds. It can be surreal though sometimes performing for a sold out show and being on stage, to then pulling up at home the next morning on the tour bus and jumping off wearing sweats and instantly going into mom mode making breakfast for the kids. I’ve surrounded myself with people who understand that my kids and family are my priority. My management team does a great job at maneuvering around any family scheduling and somehow finds a way to make it all work. I typically tour on the weekends which lets me be at home during the week for all of the morning breakfasts, sporting events, school plays, etc., and then a lot of the time my kids come with me on the road. They grew up on the tour bus and absolutely love being on the road.

Do you take things on the road with you to make it feel like home?
My family, as much as possible. My brother, Matt, is my bass player, and his wife, Kaelin (KK), is my stylist and does my hair and makeup. They have a 4-year-old daughter, Milly, who comes out with us and rides my bus, so it’s always a fun time. I’m a huge TV, movie, and documentary addict. I love to cozy up on the bus and binge watch whatever my latest favorite show is at the moment.

With five No. 1 singles, multi-platinum certifications, ACM and CMA awards, as well as numerous American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Country Music Association, CMT and Grammy Awards nominations, how do you stay grounded?
I’m so incredibly grateful each time I win an award or receive some kind of recognition in the industry. It’s weird though, because deep down I always just think of myself as the farm girl from Missouri who grew up with six brothers and sisters playing in honky tonks and bars. I always knew that my calling was to sing and entertain and I envisioned myself as Loretta Lynn or Tammy Wynette and just knew that’s the path my life would take. If I ever start making anything about myself or losing sight of where I came from, my kids can bring me back to humility really quick. (laughs) They definitely keep me in line.

You come from a musical family. How did your family’s passion for music shape your influences and help you mold your style?
Both of my parents are very musical and have great voices, but neither ever really pursued it professionally. It was my parents who started my two older brothers taking guitar and bass lessons, though, which led to where I am today. They would practice at home and needed someone to sing along with the songs. I was 4 or 5 years old and would sing along and everyone realized that I had a voice and could sing. From there we started a family band called the Evans Family Band, that not too long after became the Sara Evans Band. We played bars, honky tonks, county fairs, you name it. Anything to get out and play. I grew up listening to old vinyl records of the Grand Ole Opry, Reba McEntire, Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, Dolly Parton. I would listen over and over and just study how they would sing and listen to how amazing they were. So I really grew up on traditional Country Music and have a deep and profound respect for it. My dad would play records by The Doobie Brothers, The Eagles, and amazing bands like that as well. When I got a little older I started listening to pop as well and loved REO Speedwagon, Belinda Carlisle, and just amazing vocalists. Now I listen to everything. I love great pop music, R&B, and on and on. So I have a diverse taste in music for sure, but my roots are definitely tied to being that little girl sitting in my grandparents’ living room listening to the Grand Ole Opry.

Do your kids share your passion for music?
My kids absolutely do share a love of music. I’m sure it’s in their genes, but they also grew up on the road being surrounded by amazing musicians and artists. So they were able to absorb that from an early age. They also spent time with me in the studio, have watched me write songs, and just really experience almost every part of the business. My son, Avery, is really a gifted musician and can play drums and guitar. He blows me away with how far he’s come in the past few years. Both of my daughters, Olivia and Audrey, have great voices and sang on my Christmas album with me. Olivia actually sang on the new album too and did some really cool vocal parts at the end of one of the songs. I think my longtime fans are going to freak out when they hear how good she is!

You did an episode of CMT Crossroads with Maroon 5 and a duet with Gavin DeGraw on your last album. Are there any collaborations on the new album?
I always like to throw in some unexpected covers and show the fans that I can sing all different kinds of music. On the road, now, we’ve been doing a fun cover of Walk the Moon’s “Shut Up and Dance,” a John Mayer song called “Say,” and a few others. My daughter, Olivia, covered a Beyoncé song in her talent show a few months ago and we did that one night on stage as well. The last album had three different collaborations including Gavin, Isaac Slade from The Fray, and Vince Gill. For this album I haven’t really felt the need to bring anyone else in. All of these songs just feel so personal to me, and I wanted to just share them straight from my heart.

Can your fans expect to hear some of the songs from your new project at your shows?
Absolutely. Getting to start performing new songs live is one of the highlights of my career. It’s so fun to rehearse them with my band and give us something new and fresh each night. I always strive to sing better live than I do on my albums, and I definitely challenged myself this time around. So pray for me!

Feb. 12: New York, NY (B.B. King’s Blues Club)
Feb. 14: Concord, NH (Capitol Center for the Arts — Chubb Theatre)
Feb. 15: Albany, NY (The Palace Theatre)
Feb. 16: Verona, NY (Turning Stone Resort Casino — The Showroom)
Feb. 17: Medford, MA (Chevalier Theatre)
Feb. 23: Athens, OH (Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium)
Feb. 24: Richmond, KY (EKU Center for the Arts)
Feb. 25: Joliet, IL (Rialto Square Theatre)
March 9: Salina, KS (Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts)
March 10: Pocola, OK (Choctaw Casino Resort — Centerstage)
March 15: Kansas City, MO (Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts)
March 16: Prior Lake, MN (Mystic Lake Casino — Mystic Showroom)
March 17: Waukegan, IL
April 6: Lake Charles, LA (Golden Nugget)
April 7: Mobile, AL (Saenger Theatre

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