Ramblin' Rhodes: Sara Evans leads two lives: the normal one, the singer one

Sara Evans' first No. 1 hit was 1998's No Place That Far.

Sara Evans’ publicist emailed me one morning a few days ago that Evans needed to change our scheduled noon phone interview to “push it back” later that same day to 3:45.


So when Evans got on the phone at her home in a suburb of Birmingham, Ala., I asked if something major had come up.

“I had to go to my fifth-grader’s school to help out in the classroom,” she said, “and I had forgotten about it. I end up with conflicts like that when I don’t write them down.”

Evans, who will perform her many hit singles at the Imperial Theatre at 8 p.m. Friday, May 20, has been living in the Birmingham area since she married former University of Alabama star quarterback Jay Barker in 2008.

Barker led the Crimson Tide to winning the 1992 SEC national championship, the college’s first since the memorable days of coach Bear Bryant. He co-hosts a morning drive-time ESPN sports talk program on Birmingham’s WJOX-FM radio station with former Auburn University kicker Al Del Greco and long-time announcer Tony Kurre.

When she is not touring, Evans said she leads a pretty normal life with four children from Barker’s first marriage and three from her first marriage; the oldest is 16.

“Oh, yes, my life really is totally normal when I’m home,” she said. “People always assume that I don’t have a normal life, but that really is the furthest thing from the truth.

“You just have no choice but do the normal things with your family,” Evans continued. “Touring and singing and making records are my job, but it’s like being a surgeon and also being a mom. You would come home and be a mom and wouldn’t be thinking about surgery.”

Evans thinks it is great having a house full of children since she grew up with two older brothers and four younger sisters on a farm near New Franklin, Mo.

“We grew corn and wheat and soybeans, had cattle and hogs, hauled hay and grew tobacco,” Evans recalled. “We had tons of horses, but I never did get into barrel racing. We were always performing weekends with our family’s band, but we did get into saddle clubs and did a lot of trail rides.”

The family group known as both The Evans Family Band and The Sara Evans Show played bluegrass music and even opened for Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass music, at a Missouri state fair.

“I remember a tornado came through, and I was terrified. I was only 9 years old,” she said. “We mainly played covers of songs. I didn’t start writing until I moved to Nashville when I was 19.”

She eventually was signed by RCA Records, which released her first album, Three Chords and the Truth, in 1997.

Her first No. 1 hit came in early 1998 with No Place That Far, which had Vince Gill singing duet on the chorus.

Other hits for Evans include Suds in the Bucket, I Could Not Ask For More, A Real Fine Place to Start, Saints and Angels and (You Were) Born to Fly. The last was named the 2001 Country Music Association’s Video of the Year with its Wizard of Oz interpretations.

All in all, Evans is at a very happy and contented place in her life with her husband, children and friends in Alabama while still maintaining her country star life on the road.

“I’ve always enjoyed doing this, and, in a lot of ways I’m just getting started,” she said. “I’m going back in the studio soon. My kids often travel with me on the road. My brother, Matt Evans, is my band leader and bass player. His wife, Kaelin (K.K.), and I write a blog – arealfineplace.com – about hair styling and fashion and food, and their 3-year-old travels on the road with us.”


Bethany (Davis) & The Southside Boys: Free concert sponsored by Cranston Engineering at 3 p.m. Sunday, May 22, at Pendleton King Park, 1600 Troupe St., featuring a variety of music. Bring seating.

Seventh annual Papa Joe’s Banjo-B-Que Music Festival: May 27-28, Memorial Day weekend, at Evans Towne Center Park. Friday: Gates open 4 p.m. with music until 11 p.m., $35 or $250 VIP pass; Saturday: Gates open 10:30 a.m. with music until 11 p.m. Two-day tickets are $60 or $325 VIP. Visit banjobque.com.

Third annual Augusta Music Fest: 3:30 to 10:30 p.m., Saturday, May 28, at Augusta Common, 800 block of Broad Street; family fun free event includes a Kids’ Zone; VIP tickets $50; AugustaMusicFest.com.


WHO: Country music star Sara Evans

WHEN: 8 p.m. Friday, May 20

WHERE: Imperial Theatre, 749 Broad St.

TICKETS: $50, $55 and $45, box office, (706) 722-8341; imperialtheatre.com