Bruce Kulick Interview:
KISS Longtime Unmasked Guitarist Rekindles Power Trio Days
July 25, 2015
Trini Lopez Exclusive: Rock & Folk Pioneer Celebrates 50th Anniversary of ‘Trini Lopez At PJ’S’
November 28, 2014
LUNDEN REIGN: The Love Affair & Collaboration that Spawned Musical Bliss
September 20, 2015
Mary Sarah Country Music’s Shining New Star Duets with The Legends on New CD -Interview
October 14, 2014
By Ray Shasho
-Interviewed on July 15th 2014
Country Music’s talented, young, and beautiful new star is nineteen year old Mary Sarah. Her latest CD would surely appease the aspirations of any artist, to perform with an incredible lineup of music legends. It’s a page right out of a storybook that began with a tweet from Joe Bonsall and an invite to perform with The Oak Ridge Boys onstage at the Opera House in Galveston, Texas. Four years later… Mary Sarah and Cleopatra Records release the critically acclaimed… Mary Sarah and Friends ‘BRIDGES’CD -featuring Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson, Ray Price, Merle Haggard,Lynn Anderson, Tanya Tucker, The Oak Ridge Boys, Vince Gill, Ronnie Milsap, Neil Sedaka & many more. Mary Sarah performed duets with all the performers including the late Ray Price. The album was officially released on July 8th and available to purchase at amazon.com.
MARY SARAH:began performing in church at the age of eight. Mary’s hometown is Richmond, Texas. She later appeared at various Opry Theatres, Town Squares, charity fund raisers, and radio stations. At twelve years old she toured the U.S. for six months as a featured lead vocalist and dancer with Kidz Bop, a brand of compilation albums spotlighting kids performing popular hits from the Billboard Hot 100 charts. The Kidz Bop tour was an 18- song concert produced by Razor & Tie Records and Vee Corporation.
Mary Sarah also became a seasoned veteran at singing National Anthems, over fifty to be exact, so it was no surprise when she became the winner of a vote-in contest that led her to sing the National Anthem at a Houston Texans/Carolina Panthers football game in front of over 70,000 people.
‘BRIDGES’ is an exciting new CD that delivers the true spirit of country music. Mary Sarah’s duets are captivating & inspiring … there’s definitely a new rising star in the world of country music! I gave ‘BRIDGES’ (5) Stars!
Track listings: -Mary Sarah and Friends ‘BRIDGES’ 1) “Jolene” (feat. Dolly Parton), 2) “Crazy” (feat. Willie Nelson), 3) “Fightin’ Side of Me” (feat. Merle Haggard), 4) “Heartaches By The Number” (feat. Ray Price), 5) “Go Rest High On That Mountain” (feat. Vince Gill), 6) “Dream On” (feat. The Oak Ridge Boys), 7) “Texas, When I Die” (feat. Tanya Tucker), 8) “Rose Garden” (feat. Lynn Anderson), 9) “What A Difference You’ve Made In My Life” (feat. Ronnie Milsap), 10) “Where The Boys Are” (feat. Neil Sedaka)
Bonus Cuts: 11) “My Great Escape” (feat. John Rich and Big Kenny), 12) “All I Wanna Do Is Sing My Song” (feat. Freddy Powers), 13) “I’m Sorry”
Back in July, I had the warm opportunity to chat with Mary Sarah about… The new ‘Bridges’ CD … Singing with music legends … Mary’s relationship with The Oak Ridge Boys …Singing the National Anthem…The future… My infamous ‘Field of Dreams’ question … and much-much more!
Here’s my interview with the sensational young country singer & songwriter
Ray Shasho: Hello Mary thank you for being on the call today, I’m calling you only minutes away from beautiful Siesta Beach in Sarasota today.
Mary Sarah: “Oh my God, I am so jealous. I’m about twenty five minutes outside of Nashville in Franklin.”
Ray Shasho: I chatted with Joe Bonsall awhile back, he’s such a great guy. I understand that The Oak Ridge Boys performed on your new CD entitled ‘Bridges’?
Mary Sarah: “I love Joe Bonsall he’s like family to me now. Kind of a funny story, it was actually about four years ago before the ‘Bridges’ project that they tweeted me. I don’t know from where Joe tweeted me but he said I know you live in Houston and we’re going to be playing in Galveston at the Opera House and we would like you and your family to come along. At first, I had no idea that the Oak Ridge Boys even tweeted, so I thought, is this real? (All laughing) He had watched my You Tube video. So we made a trip to come down, and I watched rehearsals and then we all went to dinner. At dinner I remember Joe looking at me and he said can you really sing a cappella? I had sung “Where the Boys Are” by Connie Francis and had done a cappella several times, so it was like my go to song. At dinner I told him that I would stand up and sing for him, which I thought was very funny. He looked at me and said, no-no-no, I mean; I want you to sing at the show tonight. (All laughing)”
“At that time I was fifteen years old and kind of freaking out that The Oak Ridge Boys wanted me to sing at their sold-out show in Galveston while not even hearing me sing live in front of them? So it was absolutely amazing and really cool for them to do. I give a lot of credit to them and especially to this project. We sent me singing “Where the Boys Are” on that stage to pretty much every artist, which was very cool.”
Ray Shasho: This all must be one huge wonderful blur for you?
Mary Sarah: “Now that the CD is released it really is. It’s exciting because we all worked so hard on it and to finally show it to the world and get their opinions on it is just unbelievable.”
Ray Shasho:I know the Oak Ridge Boys are a favorite of yours, who else did you especially connect with in the studio while working on the CD?
Mary Sarah: “I have to say all of them because they were all absolutely amazing and especially because they did all this on a handshake, which is crazy. I would probably say if I had to pick … Ray Price. It was a very special experience and especially in the studio with him that day. I was fifteen too, so it was a couple of months after I sang with The Oak Ridge Boys. “Heartaches by the Number” was one of my favorite songs to sing at the Opera in Texas and immediately when Ray got on the CD I said we’re totally doing “Heartaches by the Number” and I hoped he’d say yes because that’s my favorite-favorite song. And so to get to stand in the studio and hear him sing it live was like none other and just a magical experience. I remember I was very nervous and when he walked into the studio that day, I think everybody was nervous, but there was something about him that calmed the whole room.”
“Another one is Dolly Parton who was the first one to get on the project. I’m standing in one room and I know she’s in the other room and I’m just freaking out. I’m thinking to myself… what do I say to Dolly Parton? I just remember being so nervous and I couldn’t think of anything. So I’m walking down this hall to go into the room and I see her through the window door and I feel like my heart dropped down into my stomach. So I walked in and she said, “You must be Mary Sarah?” And I was like well you must be Dolly Parton? After the whole experience I talked with my mom and asked her, did I say anything that embarrassed me? I don’t think I remembered exactly what I said to her. All my experiences with those legends were so amazing.”
Ray Shasho: Another country artist I’d like to interview is Reba McEntire, I think she’s so cool.
Mary Sarah: “Oh My Gosh, my Brother is a huge Reba fan, he says if I ever meet her I’m just going to get down on one knee and marry her. (All laughing) Yea, we listen to Reba a lot.”
Ray Shasho: Mary, you made your first splash on the music scene in Kidz Bop?
Mary Sarah: “Yes, I was twelve years old and on tour for about six months across the east coast and Midwest and was one of the craziest experiences of my life, because at twelve years old I never expected to be on tour. The coolest thing about Kidz Bop was when I was in a theater; I think it was the Fox Theatre in Detroit, and we were in the basement area and there were signatures all over the walls, and I remember seeing Patsy Cline’s signature on the wall, which for over a year I had been singing Patsy’s songs and really looked up to her as an idol. The funny thing was, all the other kids my age didn’t know who Patsy Cline was. So I was freaking out by the fact that Patsy Cline’s signature was on the wall while the other kids were asking me why are you freaking out? (All laughing) It was just a great feeling that day, seeing her signature on the wall and then knowing I was going to sing onstage where she sang.”
“So I go out to sing and we each had a solo. After I began singing my solo everyone in the audience began singing along with me and it sounded like a choir of angels, and for me it was an overwhelming feeling of joy. I remember coming offstage and saying to my mom… I don’t know what happened but I’m going to do this for the rest of my life. My mom was probably thinking, oh My Gosh; she’s only twelve years old and already knows what she wants to do for the rest of her life … (All laughing) okay let’s see how this goes. So it was really a big moment for me and ever since then I’ve been working hard at it.”
Ray Shasho:What song did you sing onstage?
Mary Sarah: “Move Along” by The All-American Rejects. I had the bridge part of it where it sort of breaks down, and you can find that on You Tube.”
Ray Shasho: Was ‘Crazy Good’ actually your debut album?
Mary Sarah: “I really wanted to explore my own sound and try my hand in writing, and so that was kind of an experimental album to try and figure out who I was at fourteen years old. So I would say it was kind of a debut album and at the same time just an album I did to figure out who I was. Starting the writing process and things like that.”
Ray Shasho: It’s a really good album and I especially enjoyed the title track “Crazy Good,” just an awesome tune.
Mary Sarah: “Thank you! You know what’s funny is a couple years after releasing it; I never thought people would go back and listen to it. People would say I love your song “Crazy Good,” so it’s really cool that people really like it.”
Ray Shasho:Are you musically committed to a Country Music route or will you be experimenting with other genres?
Mary Sarah: “I love Country Music and I’ve sang in the Texas Opry for years. A big part of me is traditional Country Music … so yes, I am sticking with Country Music.”
Ray Shasho:Mary what are some of your favorite TV shows.
Mary Sarah: “One of my favorite TV shows is ‘Bones’ … that and ‘New Girl.’
Ray Shasho: Here’s a question that all the young guys out there are going to want to know about you … Do you have a boyfriend?
Mary Sarah: “I do have a boyfriend and it’s actually a long-distance relationship. Originally he lived in Kansas City, Kansas, he goes to Southeast Missouri State University for football now, and he’s an outside linebacker. We met through my cousin who lives in Kansas City; they went to the same school.”
Ray Shasho: Are you in college or considering attending college soon?
Mary Sarah: “No, I’m actually not in college at this time. I kind of consider what I am doing is my college because I feel like I’ve learned just as much as a college student and getting to live it at the same time. So I really feel like I am in college.”
Ray Shasho:There was controversy surrounding the Houston Texans when you sang the National Anthem at NRG Stadium … Carolina Panther Jeremy Shockey was upset that the Houston Texans players were not respecting your rendition of the anthem?
Mary Sarah: “I sang the National Anthem for the Texans game and I was very surprised to see that happen. I went out there to sing it and to hear everything that happened afterwards was like …what the heck? So it was pretty crazy. When I walked out to sing the anthem I walked along the sidelines and there was a huge speaker playing music to 70,000 people, so it was extremely loud. I walked right past it and it literally blasted my ears. When I went out to sing the anthem I actually sang it a whole step higher than I usually do. I think it was the best National Anthem that I ever did but probably would not do it again because it was very nerve-wracking.”
Ray Shasho: I think the National Anthem is a difficult song to sing, especially in front of 70,000 people. What were the acoustics like while singing it … was there an echo?
Mary Sarah: “I have done a ton of National Anthems, so when I got to the Texans, I had done at least fifty National Anthems before that, so I’m kind of used to the bouncing back and things like that, but the Texans had the roof closed so it really made the sound bounce around a lot. It was a little funky but I’ve had worst I think. I did the Bristol Motor Speedway and that was a little funky because the speakers were way-way up in the air.”
Ray Shasho: Mary do you continue to write music?
Mary Sarah: “I do … I’m working on some new stuff. Now that we have the CD released and it’s out there, it’s time to work on the newer stuff. I’m excited about finding a great producer to work with, and I’m writing a lot while hoping to get some really great songs on the next project.”
Ray Shasho: I am essentially a classic rock music journalist … do you also enjoy the occasional rock song?
Mary Sarah: “I’m a big fan of Journey. My dad introduced me to Journey and ever since we’ve gone to so many of their concerts. Of course my anthem song is “Don’t Stop Believin’” just like everybody else’s, but I love all of their songs.”
Ray Shasho: Freddy Powers had quite an influence on your career?
Mary Sarah: “Freddy and I were introduced about four years ago and he is the executive producer on the new CD. I give him a ton of credit on this because he really took a leap of faith with me. We actually had Dolly Parton first and Freddy came on right after Dolly and said that I really want to help you out with this project. So he brought Willie Nelson, Tanya Tucker, and Merle Haggard to the CD and really used a lot of his relationships to make this happen. He’s actually in stage 4 Parkinson’s, so it’s kind of his last project to do. I would say I’m the lucky singer that got to do it. He and his wife Catherine have been a blessing in my life.”
Ray Shasho:You’ll be doing some dates with Merle Haggard?
Mary Sarah: I’m pretty sure I’ll be opening up especially in La Grange, Texas and getting to sing our song together. We’re still figuring out additional dates on the schedule.
Ray Shasho:Mary, here’s a question that I ask everyone that I interview. If you had a ‘Field of Dreams’ wish like the movie, to sing or collaborate with anyone from the past or present, who would that be?
Mary Sarah: “Oh My Gosh! I think Patsy Cline. I read up on all the things she used to do and how spunky she was, so it would be really cool to meet and talk with her. She said a lot of the things she did was to just kind of go with the flow. That would be someone from the past. Someone in the present would be Eric Church… I’m a big fan of his. It would be really cool to collaborate with him.”
Ray Shasho:I understand that you are an advocate for Juvenile Diabetes?
Mary Sarah: “Yes, my brother was actually born at one pound and a half and had several surgeries. By the time he was fourteen, he developed type 1 diabetes and ended up having a liver transplant. He’s actually twenty five now and doing very-very well. We’re always doing walks for ‘JDRF’ and anything we can do to support it. Another foundation that I am currently working with is ‘Caiden’s Hope,’ which they are an organization who supports families who have babies in the NICU. My mom actually raised my brother who was in an NICU for six months. So she went through a lot of that struggle. It’s an amazing organization.”
Ray Shasho: Mary, anything else you’d like to promote or say?
Mary Sarah: “I wanted to thank ‘Cleopatra Records’ because they were the ones who distributed the ‘Bridges’ project.”
Ray Shasho:Mary, thank you for being on the call today … you are unquestionably Country Music’s shining new star, an incredible singer, a beautiful girl, and a marvelous personality to boot. We’ll all be looking for great and wonderful developments to take place during your musical career.
Mary Sarah: “Thank you so much for interviewing me today … I had a blast!”
Purchase Mary Sarah’s latest CD released on Cleopatra Records entitled‘BRIDGES’featuring appearances by The Oak Ridge Boys, Dolly Parton,Willie Nelson, Ray Price,Merle Haggard, Lynn Anderson, Tanya Tucker, Vince Gill, Ronnie Milsap, Neil Sedaka and more.BRIDGES’ is an exciting new CD that delivers the true spirit of country music. Mary Sarah’s duets are captivating & inspiring … there’s definitely a new rising star in the world of country music!
Track listings: 1) “Jolene” (feat. Dolly Parton), 2) “Crazy” (feat. Willie Nelson), 3) “Fightin’ Side of Me” (feat. Merle Haggard), 4) “Heartaches By The Number” (feat. Ray Price), 5) “Go Rest High On That Mountain” (feat. Vince Gill), 6) “Dream On” (feat. The Oak Ridge Boys), 7) “Texas, When I Die” (feat. Tanya Tucker), 8) “Rose Garden” (feat. Lynn Anderson), 9) “What A Difference You’ve Made In My Life” (feat. Ronnie Milsap), 10) “Where The Boys Are” (feat. Neil Sedaka)
Bonus Cuts: 11) “My Great Escape” (feat. John Rich and Big Kenny), 12) “All I Wanna Do Is Sing My Song” (feat. Freddy Powers), 13) “I’m Sorry”
Very special thanks to ‘the great’ Billy James of Glass Onyon PR
COMING UP NEXT … Don Wilson guitarist, pioneer, and co-founder of ‘The Ventures’ … and Folk/Rock singer & songwriter Jonathan Edwards (“Sunshine”).
Contact music journalist Ray Shasho at firstname.lastname@example.org
Purchase Ray’s very special memoir called ‘Check the Gs’-The True Story of an Eclectic American Family and Their Wacky Family Business … You’ll LIVE IT! Also available for download on NOOK or KINDLE edition for JUST .99 CENTS at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com - Please support Ray by purchasing his book so he can continue to bring you quality classic rock music reporting.
“Check the Gs is just a really cool story ... and it’s real. I’d like to see the kid on the front cover telling his story in a motion picture, TV sitcom or animated series. The characters in the story definitely jump out of the book and come to life. Very funny and scary moments throughout the story and I just love the way Ray timeline’s historical events during his lifetime. Ray’s love of rock music was evident throughout the book and it generates extra enthusiasm when I read his on-line classic rock music column. It’s a wonderful read for everyone!” …email@example.com
Ray’s exciting new book project entitled...‘SAVING ROCK AND ROLL’