The magic of Sarah Darling's artistry lies in the power and passion of her voice, the cool believability of her approach and the grace and assurance of her stage presence. Collectively, their effect on industry pros and everyday fans alike has brought her an enviable set of milestones. She has performed on the stages of both Carnegie Hall and the Grand Ole Opry. Press accolades include The New York Times noting her as "a sophisticated songwriter" with a "crisp, powerful voice." She has seen "Blackbird," her contribution to the Linda McCartney tribute/breast cancer fundraiser "Let Us In," take off as a video across country's television networks and as a featured song on Sirius XM.
That magic and those accomplishments are about to become the launching pad for her emergence into real country stardom. She is recording now with storied producer Dann Huff (Carrie Underwood, Rascal Flatts), and the reception of "Blackbird" is just one sign of the anticipation for the project.
"There's a time when everything aligns and falls into place," she says, "and this is that time. I've been writing and performing a lot over the past year and I'm surrounded by a great team at Black River Entertainment. They're giving me the kind of creative freedom every artist wants and I can't wait for the world to hear the music that's coming out of that.
"My writing has definitely changed over the past few years," she adds. "I call what I do now 'Sarah Darling 2.0.' I really feel like I've come into my own."
The Nashville portion of Sarah's journey began when a top music executive from Nashville overheard someone praise her singing voice as she stood in line for an after-concert autograph in Des Moines, near her hometown of Mitchellville, Iowa. Consequently, he asked her to mail a CD to him in Nashville.
"I did," she says, "and he called and said, 'You need to move to Nashville. You have potential.' That was the little extra bump I needed."
That "bump" capped a lifelong love of music that had seen Sarah perform at the Iowa State Fair at 13 and spend her teen years playing fairs, festivals, clubs, casinos, hospitals, charity events"just anything I could possibly do. All through my teens, while people were going to football games, I was doing shows on the weekends."
As all her friends looked at colleges, she took a job in an Italian restaurant and set about saving money for the move to Nashville she knew was inevitable.
"I told my parents thats what I wanted to do," she says, "and they were very supportive." By the time the music executive gave her that final push, she had already saved $5,000. She took the money to Nashville, got work as a waitress and slowly began the learning process.
"Coming from Iowa, I didn't really understand the music business at all," she says. "I thought you just move to Nashville, you get a record deal and you make a record. But my manager said, 'I'm going to set you up with some writers,' and I started getting my feet wet with songwriting."
Shortly after moving to Nashville, Sarah got the opportunity to travel to Las Vegas to take part in the E! Network's reality show, The Entertainer, hosted by Wayne Newton. She made it to the final three and then came a memorable on-camera discussion with Mr. Las Vegas.
She says, "He told me, 'I've thought about this a lot and I think you're an artist. You need to be in Nashville and you need to write. That's what you're going to be great at, not singing covers in a Vegas lounge.' Looking back, it was one of those unanswered prayers. It was a great way to leave the show if I had to and, in a way, it was like going to college. I learned about TV and about editing and the whole experience made me get serious about being an artist."