Since she was old enough to sing, Sara Evans knew she was destined to be a country music star. While singing and playing mandolin at the age of four in a family band alongside her brothers, the Boonville, Mo. native has long harbored a passion for cover songs, one she channels into her new album, Copy That.
“I’ve been waiting for this moment,” Evans tells Sounds Like Nashville in a phone interview about the project. “I’ve been wanting to do it my entire career.” The 13-track compilation album, set for release on May 15, sees Evans covering songs by a vast range of musical influences from Hank Williams’ “I’m So Lonesome I Could Cry,” a collaboration with Old Crow Medicine Show, to the Bee Gees’ disco hit, “If I Can’t Have You,” along with pop-rock classics “My Sharona,” “Whenever I Call You ‘Friend’” and “Come on Eileen.”
Evans called on Jarrad K to co-produce the project with her after listening to his production work on Ruston Kelly’s 2018 debut album, Dying Star. The process turned into a family affair, with Evans’ son Avery playing guitar while daughters Olivia and Audrey provide background vocals. Evans’s goal was not to remake the classics, but honor them by staying true to the original arrangement. “That’s what this album is, listening to me do these songs but really pay tribute to everything that they did,” Evans describes. “I wanted to show people that I can sing anything and not just the singles that you’ve heard me sing. I also feel like I’m a better singer now than I was 20 years ago when we made Born to Fly, so I wanted to show that. I really pushed myself vocally, it was an amazing experience.”
Copy That isn’t the only new project Evans has on the horizon. The “A Little Big Stronger” singer will be releasing her new book, Born to Fly, in September 2020. Evans was approached by her publisher, Howard Books, in 2016, originally envisioning a how to-style book based on her life at the time living with husband Jay Barker and their children in Birmingham, Ala. But when the family moved to Nashville, Evans’ focus shifted to turning the book into a memoir. Across 224 pages, Evans offers fans an honest look into her life story, including her experience with divorce and creating a blended family upon marrying Barker, as well as the impact her parents’ divorce had on her when she was a pre-teen and how she was able to relate to her own children because of it.
“I talk about raising kids with humor and the kind of parent that I am. It’s a little bit of everything with some life stories,” she notes. Evans admits that reflecting on her parents’ divorce was one of the most challenging aspects of writing the memoir, as she wanted to be sensitive to their story while sharing her own. “That was difficult to write about because I didn’t want to offend anybody in my family. I didn’t want to hurt my parents’ feelings, but I also wanted to express how I felt. I was 12 when they divorced, so after that, I didn’t have as close of a relationship with my dad as I wanted. That was very painful for me my whole life,” she explains. “I touch on that a little bit – things that are not easy to talk about within a family, but at the same time, it is my story and my version of things.”
As Evans opens up about her life, she hopes it connects with readers and offers them a source of hope amidst their own journeys. “I really love to inspire people and make them think about things that they didn’t think about or make them laugh and go ‘I’m just like you.’ I love when I read a book by someone that I’m a fan of and I relate to them, it can bring you a lot of comfort. I hope people go ‘Sara Evans thinks that way, then I think that way too. At least I know that I’m not alone,’” she observes. “I can’t wait to hear what people think of it. I’m really proud of it.”
Born to Fly is scheduled for release on Sept. 8.