A female country traditionalist during a time when they were quite rare around Nashville, Sara Evans gained her RCA contract in 1996 after her rendition of Buck Owens' perennial chestnut "I've Got a Tiger by the Tail" impressed its songwriter, Harlan Howard, so much that he considered himself duty-bound to help her. While growing up poor in rural Missouri, Evans performed with her family's band -- at the age of four -- and even recorded in Nashville just a few years later.
She eventually moved to Oregon in 1992, but continued to perform as Sara Evans & North Santiam. The group opened for Willie Nelson and Tim McGraw, among others, but Evans eventually returned to Nashville to try to remake her career. There she impressed Howard enough that he recommended her to RCA executives, who connected her with producer Pete Anderson (a veteran of many albums by Dwight Yoakam). After her debut album, Three Chords and the Truth, was released in July 1997, Evans earned a special honor by being handpicked by George Jones to open a special show in Nashville. No Place That Far followed a year later, breaking into the U.S. pop charts and eventually reaching gold certification. Her big breakthrough was 2000's Born to Fly. The title track was a big hit for Evans, and the album eventually peaked in the Top Ten of Billboard's country charts, going double-platinum in the process.
Evans returned in 2003 with Restless, and the country chart-topper "Backseat of a Greyhound Bus" helped it become her highest-charting album to date. Fifth studio album Real Fine Place appeared in 2005, and the title track became her fourth number one hit on the country charts. The compilation Greatest Hits appeared in 2007; it included four new recordings, led by the Top 20 hit "As If."
Evans returned to the popular arena in early 2011 with Stronger. Even though it was released six years after Real Fine Place, it hit the top of the country album charts, while the single "A Little Bit Stronger" did the same on the country singles charts. Reentering the studio in November 2012 with producer Mark Bright, Evans set about recording her seventh studio album, Slow Me Down. Preceded by the 2013 release of the title track -- which promptly hit the country Top 20 -- the album appeared early in March 2014. After delivering a holiday album called At Christmas in November 2014, Evans left RCA Nashville in 2015. In 2017, she launched her own RED-distributed imprint Born to Fly and released Words in July of that year. ~ John Bush