© 2007 CMA Close Up News Service / Country Music Association, Inc.
4 December 2007 — Like the sound of her music, the story of Sarah Johns is classic. Raised in a fly-speck Kentucky town, with a father so strict that she was punished when caught listening to a Faith Hill album, Johns learned to raise her head and sing in church before mastering the art of telling life’s sad and joyful tales by singing a Country song.
Johns didn’t start performing until after she’d enrolled at the University of Kentucky at Lexington, but a long residency at Regatta’s seafood restaurant sharpened her skills to the point that she felt good about quitting school, bidding her boyfriend adieu and heading down to Nashville to build a career from scratch.
Eventually she won an invitation from Toby Keith’s manager, who had caught her act back at Regatta, to do two songs on one of his client’s tours. She chose a pair of originals, the rollicking “When Do I Get to Be a Woman” and the kiss-off anthem “The One in the Middle,” probably the rowdiest celebration of a particular finger set to music in recent years.
The response she earned led straight to a record deal with BNA Records and a debut album, Big Love in a Small Town, produced by Joe Scaife and loaded with both of those barn-burners plus nine more songs that include a wickedly funny ode to love at first sight (“He Hates Me”) and power ballads (“Touch Me” and “Baby My Heart”) that add raw physical spice into her formula for romance. All of these bear her co-writing credit and reflect the promise that Johns has lots more to say with her pen, her voice, her country-bred charisma and maybe that middle digit every now and then.
IN HER OWN WORDS
What CD is on your stereo?
“George Jones” My Very Special Guests. I warm up my voice singing along with this album.”
Who is your dream duet partner?
“Loretta Lynn, because I’m as feisty as she is.”
What’s your pet peeve?
“People who don’t give 100 percent.”
What word or phrase do you find yourself saying over and over again?
“What city are we in?”
Do you have a lucky charm?
“A horseshoe ring that my father gave to my mom on the day I was born — oh, and a push-up bra.”