If you take a survey among traditional country music fans today and ask what radio station they listen to most, a large number of them might say they turned off the radio long ago because they feel that true country music is dead. However, should they ever encounter an artist by the name Sara Morgan, she would tell them that true country music might not be in regular rotation on mainstream corporate radio these days "but country music isn't dead. It's just takes a little searching to discover it."
Sara Morgan is one of a handful of recording artists working hard to make sure country songs that tell stories never disappear from the musical landscape. Drawing on her own life experiences, Morgan has a catalog of songs about heartbreak, love, growing old, making hard choices, loss, strength, independence, being proud of your heritage no matter where you may come from, perseverance, being thankful, -- all of them steeped in pedal steel.
Sara is blazing her own musical path and has developed a very identifiable country sound that she describes as the crossroads "where classic becomes current" She's outspoken and shoots from the hip like Loretta, tells stories in her songs like Dolly, and her soulful vocal has been compared by some fans, to Reba.
From her first unplanned public performance at her uncle's wedding when she was a toddler, to being invited to sing in an arena for thousands at Missouri's state FFA convention two decades later- Sara Morgan is making an ever expanding ripple in the country music scene.
A gifted songwriter and neo-traditional country recording artist, Sara has played with/alongside or been a supporting act for Ryan Adams, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sara Evans, Loretta Lynn, Eli Young Band, Hal Ketchum, Jim Lauderdale, John Michael Montgomery, Dallas Wayne, BJ Thomas, Radney Foster, Casey Donahew, Craig Wayne Boyd, Rodney Crowell, Michael Martin Murphey, John Corbett, Ben Taylor, Sean Rowe, Chuck Mead, the Rainmakers, and many others.
Sara currently has multiple songs in rotation on independent radio stations across the country, including the recently released radio mix of the song that launched her performing career: "Never Been to Nashville". Originally released in 2013 as a more stripped down folk tune, the new mix is the result of the genius work of legendary Grammy winning engineer, Chuck Ainlay, who first heard Sara's original version on Youtube. At the time, Sara was working on her latest album, Average Jane, and had already recorded a more robust version of "Never Been to Nashville" to be re-released as the first single. Ironically, she wasn't happy with the mix. As fate would have it, at just the right moment, Ainlay reached out to Sara and offered to help. Ainlay's mixing magic, along with the mastering skills of Eric Conn (Independent Mastering, Nashville) gave the song the touch Sara was looking for.
Sara's work also recently caught the ear of film director Morgan Dameron (Different Flowers, 2017). Two of Sara's original songs, "Already Wrecked" and "Walk Me Through", along with her cover of "Moon River" appear in the motion picture that made its way through theaters across the country and can now be seen on Showtime. In addition to Sara's radio and film credits, LA recording artist and Mouseketeer, Brianna (Mazzola), has recorded two of Sara's songs: "Can't Put Out the Fire" and "Get Back at You".
Originally from a small farm town in Southeast Arkansas and now based in Kansas City, Sara is a performing songwriter who always captivates her audiences -- whether she's in the spotlight at a songwriter showcase, playing with her trusty sidekick, guitarist Pastor Carl Butler, or entertaining at large events with her band.
Sara is a natural story teller. Her songs are always lyrically substantial and spring from her own life experiences. During solo shows, her audiences listen so attentively to her words that you'll hear them shush a talker. Sara has a soulful and unforgettable crystalline vocal, and her southern roots are evident the moment she speaks and one hears the twinkle and shimmer of her Arkansas drawl.
Choosing to take a road less traveled, Sara has songwriting chops not often found in mainstream music today. Unlike many of her Nashville based counterparts, Sara does not co-write her songs. When she creates a new work, the lyrics, melodies, and arrangement come to her all at once. "I can be talking to someone and they can say something that gives me a song idea -- and from that point on I'm checked out of the conversation and hearing an entire song in my head".
Sara comes from a musically diverse upbringing. "You'll hear influences from multiple genres when I sing," she says. "I grew up hearing country, rock and roll, soul, jazz, blues, bluegrass, pop, classical, instrumental, gospel, and adult contemporary. The list of music I was exposed to is immense. I don't think there was much music my family didn't listen to. But, you'll definitely hear vocal influences from Loretta, Dolly, Reba, and Norah Jones...and sometimes Emmy Lou Harris, Janis Joplin, and Alison Krauss." Her vast collection of music is as eclectic as her songwriting.
A trained saxophone player, Sara learned to pick the guitar at the age of fifteen after a friend showed her a few chords and she began exploring the various melodies she could play with single strings. She later taught herself piano, and began writing complete songs while still in college. "I was always writing poems, but when I realized I could put those words to music, my life changed. I sent my first song to a friend who said she loved it. Of course it was terrible. But, a mentor, Jason North, told me I should pursue that path -- and I have been writing nonstop ever since."
Sara's commitment to writing songs with meaning always gives listeners the chance to hear compositions that range from unique, sincere, and smart to witty and sarcastic, and they never fail to make a statement about who she is, where's she been, what she's observed, or where she's headed next.
While the songwriting comes naturally, the performance of her songs does not. "I never planned to be on a stage -- I thought I would sit in my studio, write music, send it out and other people would cut it and perform it. But right now I'm the one singing it. Being on stage in a spotlight is way outside my comfort zone." But the sell out crowds at listening rooms seem to indicate that her performances are just as sought after as the stories in her songs -- and some of those stories and performances have happened while traveling many a highway mile.
Last summer, Sara traveled through eight states and appeared on over 70 radio stations promoting her single, "Drive a Tractor", in which a portion of the proceeds from the sales of the song and related merchandise are designated for scholarships for ag students. When the Future Farmers of America heard about Sara's efforts to support the ag community and future farmers, they invited her to perform for thousands of future farmers at the Missouri State FFA Convention in the University of Missouri's 13,000 seat Hearnes Center. She was honored to grant their request.
Recently named by music critics as Kansas City's Best Newcomer, Sara volunteers her time as a mentor for new songwriters, works with other artists on their projects and tours, teaches guitar lessons, and is in high demand for songwriter showcases throughout the Heartland. She has received accolades from NSAI with many of her songs being presented for Pitch to Publisher luncheon opportunities.
Sara, a fully independent artist, has released two EPs (Let Me Get There and Easy to Dream), and an all original 11-song full length LP, Average Jane, which debuted at #4 on the Billboard regional heat seekers charts. Average Jane also hit the iTunes Top 100 Country Albums chart in the first 24 hours of release. LA Music Critic, Robert Leggett, said Sara "brings a freshness to country music that hasn't been there since the debut of Reba, Shania Twain, and Carrie Underwood." According to Robert K. Oermann, reviewer for MusicRow Magazine, the album's lead single, "The Boots", is "cleverly written and sung with spunk, moxie and verve" . Jeff Jones, on-air radio personality for The Moose 92.9 FM said "the whole album deserves (radio) spins."
Although Sara's live performances and recordings contain a definite country flair, her songwriting catalog reaches across multiple genres. Sara writes and composes an eclectic mix of songs ranging from folk, Americana, bluegrass, and country, to rock, pop, and contemporary Christian. Her versatility as a singer/songwriter is as undeniable as her unaffected, crystalline vocal sound.
Sara plays several instruments including saxophone, guitar, banjo, bass, ukulele, piano and last but not least, No. 2 yellow pencils. She also loves mustard. If you want to know what pencils and mustard have to do with Sara Morgan, come see her at a show and ask. She'll be happy to explain. Sara is signed to River Delta Records.