Sarah Darling has some advice for broken hearts and it involves little umbrellas.
"Little Umbrellas" is the new single from the independent recording artist, who recently split with her record label. The two agreed to part ways, but it had nothing to do with this song, which Darling co-wrote with Rob Crosby and Doug Johnson more than a year ago.
The video for "Little Umbrellas" premieres on parade.com today at noon.
Sarah is part of the lineup at Thunder in the Sky, a two-day music event July 12 and 13 in Gettysburg, Pa. (gettysburgcountrymusictribute.com, 800-514-3489). She performs on July 12, along with Emerson Drive and Craig Morgan. On July 13, Brett Eldredge, Craig Campbell and Montgomery Gentry headline the music.
I caught up with Sarah recently in her hometown of Mitchellville, Iowa, visiting family and her ailing grandfather, who played an important role in her faith and love of country music.
"It's wonderful to come home and relax," she said, although on this day her morning was filled with back-to-back phone interviews. Nashville has been her home for about 10 years. She grew up in the country, small town Mitchellville, surrounded by cornfields. "It's just beautiful," she said.
Before heading back to Iowa, Sarah finished the video for "Little Umbrellas," a breezy, summer song. It was filmed in Nashville.
Sarah said she started singing when she was about 3 years old. "I think I was born to do this," she said. "My preschool teacher pulled my mom aside and said, 'I think Sarah's going to be a singer,'" Sarah said.
She cites Shania Twain, Trisha Yearwood and Alison Krauss as inspirations, along with Fleetwood Mac and Stevie Nicks, whom people have told her she sounds like. Her dad introduced her to the the music of the Eagles and Sara McLaughlin.
Sarah has been called a "sophisticated songwriter," which goes right along with the grace and confidence she possesses on stage. Her voice is emotional and powerful, delicate and strong.
And, she is beautiful, too. I told her it's good to see a country artist dress for a show. Jeans, tees and boots are great -- I wear them a lot -- but Sarah loves fashion and dressing up.
"I love dresses," she said. "I like how I feel in a dress -- beautiful!"
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On moving to Nashville: She didn't start songwriting until then. It was kind of heartbreaking when her first "job" as a country music artist was to learn the craft of songwriting. (She also worked as a waitress, which is how she managed to save $5,000 before she made the move to Tennessee from Iowa.)
While being a songwriter is not essential, she said it is important. "You can't fool fans," she said. "When you write a song, they get to see who you are."
Gospel singer Guy Penrod recorded one of her songs, "Knowing What I Know About Heaven." It's a song inspired by her grandfather, who has been seriously ill several times. He often speaks of the beauty of heaven. Sarah hopes it's a song that will give peace to those who have lost a loved one.
Not knowing anyone when she moved to Music City, Sarah said it was important to get out and meet people. "It's about relationships and not being afraid to go out and meet people," she said.
On long-distance relationships: Sarah and her fiancé, James Muriel, met about two years ago and have dated about a year. He lived in London, she was in Nashville. They often Skyped, even cooking dinner together via Skype.
On long-distance love: "It makes you learn to how to communicate better," she said. "It also makes you strong when you have to believe and have faith and will make your love stronger."
On loving the city of lights: Sarah said she's always been fascinated with Paris and "all things French."
"Since I was a little girl, I've loved Paris and the Eiffel Tower. I guess it's something in my genes," she said. She has visited Paris and "absolutely loved it."
Sarah in the kitchen: Sarah has partnered with Crock-Pot, Viva Towels and Moonpies because of her love of baking and cooking.
One of her favorite eateries in Nashville is The Perch, a Nashville crepe and coffee shop serving French cuisine.
"I love baking pies, cookies and cakes. I'll bake anything," Sarah said. It mixes with her creative side, she said.
She recently started posting favorite recipes via Twitter (@_SarahDarling).
On June 29, Sarah was awarded the "Stand for Music" Award by the National Association for Music Education in Washington, D.C. Michael Butera, NAfME's executive director, says that "Sarah epitomizes the type of artist who truly understands the importance of music education. … Our members -- America's music teachers -- greatly appreciate her assistance in raising awareness among our elected leaders about how music education orchestrates success, both in school and beyond."
While in D.C., Sarah met with legislative representatives and staff members from Tennessee and her home state of Iowa to discuss the importance of preserving music education in public schools nationwide.
You can read more of my interview with Sarah Darling in an upcoming issue of 72 Hours, inside The Frederick News-Post or online at fredericknewspost.com.