Mary Sarah is Houston's fastest rising star. At 16 she's already a veteran of the road with big name gigs under her belt like performing the national anthem for the Astros and the Texans, and a recording project that we're not allowed to tell you about yet but can assure you is something that every country singer in America would hack off their own arm for.
How on Earth this bitter, little goth ended up chronicling her career we don't know, but she makes maintaining our scowl damned difficult. Her voice is as big as the state itself, as sweet as a Nerd Rope, and she is, as our father-in-law would put it, the cutest thing in shoe leather. Not only that, but when the call went out last year to help Christian Kidd of the Hates win cancer treatment for his fiancé by having people "like" the Dream Rooms Furniture Facebook in order to secure a donation from the company, Sarah was one of the people who clenched the deal by mobilizing her massive Twitter following. It's only a matter of time before she's too big and cool to talk to us anymore.
In the meantime, she sent along a video of her performing with the legendary Oak Ridge Boys, performing the Connie Francis hit "Where the Boys Are." If you've managed to miss all the evidence of Sarah's incredible vocal talent and legitimacy as the next big thing, then we beg you to take a gander below.
Sarah took a little time out of being awesome to answer some email questions.
Rocks Off: You sang with the Oak Ridge Boys before, right? How did you get in with them?
Mary Sarah: We started chatting on Twitter last year! Then they viewed my YouTube videos and invited me and my family to go the show and meet them last January in Galveston at the amazing 1894 Grand Opera House. My Dad was like "Right....," but then they called him and found out it was legit. When we were having lunch with them (like pinching ourselves) Mr. Joe Bonsall asked me if I could sing anything A Capella and I told him....the Connie Francis song "Where The Boys Are."
I asked him (thinking he meant for the band and the people in the lunch room), "Right Now?" And he said, "No, on the show after Elvira." My parents and I freaked out! That was amazing! I got a huge standing ovation and the called us again this year to come back again! They are the most amazing gentlemen and friends. Mr. Joe said when I make it; he'll come out of retirement and be my road manager one day!
RO: What made you pick the Connie Francis tune?
MS: I just love that song, I've been singing it for a couple years now. It's my best A Capella song along with the National Anthem - and I sing it all over Texas for local and regional Opry's - so I got it down and "own" it, and don't need a band to back me so I just went with that. I think it was a good choice! One day I would love to cut it and do a video honoring her and the movie. The movie is amazing because it really deals with relevant issues that teens are still dealing with today.
RO: There's not much argument that you're Houston's fastest rising mainstream star. Do you have any specific musical goals you're aiming for?
MS: Oh WOW! You really think so? I'm just a normal teenager at Foster High School in Richmond who got to go out on tour when she was 12. My upcoming project is with some really, really big names in country music and I'm going to be really busy with that through the summer. I've been writing a lot in Nashville too with some really great writers and traveling there regularly. I really want to bring the generations together with the incredible stuff from the past that I sing and bringing a style foward to meet in the middle. I hope that makes sense? I'm first and foremost a singer, which I think has been lost somewhere in the recent past. My goal is to become a voice for those who don't have one and use my gift to bless others.
RO: Is there anything you think you're missing from being a normal, non-famous 16-year-old?
MS: A boyfriend - but I'm too busy for that anyway. A lot of my songs kind of address that like "I Don't Like You Like That," "What About Me?" and "A New Crush."
RO: You're so connected with people through your social media. We see you talking and retweeting all the time, and you always seem so positive. Have you had any negative experiences being so accessible?
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MS: One time there was a creepy guy who was stalking me, Katie Armiger and Sunny Sweeney (I guess because we all are from Texas and Katie is from Sugar Land not far from me). But he went away after the others took care of him with the authorities. I just block bullies and mean people and move on. I really, really consider my twitter "family" like friends and neighbors who are super nice! I love chatting with fans and people who like my music!
I have met SO many amazing people because of social media that I know I may never have met if it wasn't around. I also have great people on twitter who watch out for me like @jessicanorthey and @adamsconsulting and @dabneyporte. They are like big sisters who protect me!
RO: We go back and forth on whether your a pop star (Bear in mind we're the guy who claims Taylor Swift is turning goth). Where do you draw the line between country and pop? What defines you as a country artist in your mind?
MS: I'm most definitely a country singer (my daddy says there are two kinds of country music - country and western.) - but I listen to everything and love Adele, Bruno Mars, Taylor, Chris Brown, Zac Brown, Jamey Johnson, Merle Haggard, Willie, Miss Dolly, Mr. Ray.... country allows so many styles of music to come in to it. I even like Colt Ford, who Jason Aldean covered with "Dirt Road Anthem." Country seems to be amazing that way and that's why I love it! I just can't seem to shake off my twang anyway - my next project is 100% country music for sure, and the one after will be totally about my style of music! Again, I'm a singer first, song writer and guitar player tied for second. A little fiddle and piano too. I always know how to "turn on the twang."