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New artist spotlight: Mary Sarah

By Bob Doerschuk, CMA Close Up News Service • Dec 17, 2015 at 6:55 PM

Mary Sarah may keep her last name secret, but she’s no secret to the legends who guest on her first album, Bridges, produced by Kent Wells, executive produced by Freddy Powers and released July 8 on Cleopatra Records.

She nails stratospheric notes with Ronnie Milsap on “What a Difference You’ve Made in My Life,” matches Tanya Tucker sass for sass on “Texas When I Die,” swaggers with Merle Haggard on “The Fightin’ Side of Me,” soars while also digging into the lyric with Dolly Parton on “Jolene” … and, in a surprising coup de grâce, channels Connie Francis, complete with teary teenage angst, on “Where the Boys Are,” with the song’s co-writer Neil Sedaka chiming along.

And she makes it all sound easy, as if all these folks had been her babysitters as she grew up. In fact, Mary Sarah had a normal upbringing in Richmond, part of the Houston, Texas metropolitan area. When she started singing at age 8, though, things started to change. Joe Bonsall of the Oak Ridge Boys caught one of her YouTube performances and immediately invited her to sing with the group at their next show. Equally impressed, songwriter Freddy Powers alerted Lynn Anderson, Vince Gill, Willie Nelson, Ray Price and other friends to check her out. All ended up joining her in the studio for this remarkable project.

This is a tough debut album to follow, but at 18, Sarah is ready to sail on her own.

For more on Mary Sarah, visit cmacloseup.com.

In her own words…

Musical hero

“The late, great Thomas Corley. He was my piano teacher that helped me discover my voice.”

Song you’d love to cover

“’Bennie and the Jets’ by Elton John.”

Album that tops your playlist

“I can’t get enough of Edens Edge.”

Dream duet partner

“Eric Church – something about his voice just gets me.”

Favorite food on the road


Moment you’d love to relive

 “In fourth grade, I won the astronomy contest with my rotating Saturn hat.”

On the Web: marysarah.com

On Twitter: @MarySarahMusic

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