Artist To Watch Mary Sarah Duets with Ray Price

January 29, 2014 - By Trigger  //  Reviews  //  19 Comments

mary-sarah-bridges“Artist to watch” is an often-used term that may or may not be a good fit for certain performers, especially young ones that still have so many decisions to make about their lives and careers, and have so many determinations to be made about their talent, drive, influences, and style. But when it comes to the 18-year-old singer-songwriter Mary Sarah, “artist-to-watch” might not be a strong enough designation to speak to the potential of this artist.

Born in Oklahoma, raised in Texas, and set on a path from a very young age to become a performer, Mary Sarah spent her adolescence traveling around in showcases for young, potential music stars, and signed to Los Angeles-based talent agencies. From the beginning, Mary Sarah has been groomed for the big time, and you can tell there is money and muscle behind this girl; in fact maybe a little too much money and muscle, where you wonder where the carefully-crafted image and marketing end, and the singing-songwriting 18-year-old girl begin.

Mary Sarah seems to be following the Taylor Swift career path in some respects. If you poke around YouTube and such, you can find a young Mary Sarah singing cover songs from Taylor Swift and other country pop and pop stars. At 14, she released her first album Crazy Good that resides very much in the young singer-songwriter country pop realm. She’s recently been spending a lot of time touring radio stations, which is also a sign of an artist wanting to take the direct, industry route to a country music career.

mary-sarah-ray-priceBut this doesn’t tell the whole story of young Mary Sarah. She professes a deep love for traditional country music, and began performing on the local Opry circuit around Houston as she grew older, meeting the Oak Ridge Boys who saw a YouTube video of her singing and invited her on stage at the Galveston’s Grand Opera House in January of 2012. This led to Mary Sarah and her mother eventually moving from Texas to Nashville to work on a very interesting recording project from which a duet with the recently-passed Ray Price was released in tribute to the Country Music Hall of Famer.

Recorded at The Sound Kitchen in Franklin, TN with producer Kent Wells, the unreleased Mary Sarah legends album called Bridges matches up the young singer with an unbelievable roster of legacy country talent recording classic country songs, and not just the obvious names like Dolly Parton and Willie Nelson that appear on the album, but even artists like Lynn Anderson and Freddy Powers, not to mention Merle Haggard, The Oak Ridge Boys, Tanya Tucker, Vince Gill, Ronnie Milsap, Big Kenny, John Rich, and of course, Ray Price. Even more astounding is that Mary Sarah’s executive producer and mentor is Freddy Powers—the songwriting / guitar-playing powerhouse who has penned so many hits for Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson just to name a few. Mary Sarah is not just some industry ingénue, she has some of the best living representatives of traditional country music behind her.

One of the remarkable things about Ray Price is that right up to his passing, his voice was as boisterous and warm as ever, and when you cue up this “Heartaches By The Number” duet with Mary Sarah, you hear Ray Price come alive again with such clarity, with such body to his legendary, vibrato tone, it’s enough to raise hairs and overwhelm. But not to be outdone, Mary Sarah delivers a flawless performance herself that that rises to the level of complimenting Ray Price on this remarkable remake. The production and arrangement breathes new life into the track, while honoring the song’s classic lineage.

Mary Sarah could break either way at this point. She could become like an Amber Digby type and be a traditional country singer from Texas who has a solid, dedicated, sustainable, but smallish following, or she could become the next Taylor Swift. Or, even better, she could potentially bridge these two worlds with her Bridges album, and take traditional country music to a popularity level it hasn’t enjoyed in recent memory.

ray-price-mary-sarah-studio-2The reason teenagers and young adults love young pop country stars like Taylor Swift is because they can relate to them. Mary Sarah is an awfully beautiful young woman with all the stage presence, charm, and media savvy a young star needs to reach the very top of the music industry. In fact in some respects it’s all almost so perfect you tend to want to throw some dirt on it, and some may be untrusting of what they’re seeing and hearing because it’s so refined and flawless.

But as for the “Heartaches By The Number” duet, you can’t get much better, and that is coming from one that doesn’t like many remakes or cover songs. And to know there’s an entire album of similar material out there just makes you hungry for more. Mary Sarah’s Bridges album was initially slated for release in the Spring of 2013, and then the summer of 2013, but has yet to surface. It may be the fault of some Music Row bean counters sitting on their hands, or it could be Mary’s team is waiting for the exact right time and opportunity. Some chatter now has the album coming in the spring of 2014. But if Mary Sarah’s duet with Ray Price is any indication, this will be a release well worth the wait, and so will be the arrival of Mary Sarah on the national stage.

Two guns up.

19 Comments to “Artist To Watch Mary Sarah Duets with Ray Price”

  • Great voice. I hope for the “third way” career path that you suggested Trig, but I think its almost impossible in this day….


    • I don’t agree with that. Take for example what happened with Kimberly Perry singing “If I Die Young” or the really heavy radio airplay Danielle Bradbury is getting with “The Heart of Dixie” right now.

      Main stream country music has been so flooded with crap, I’d like the think people in general have been left with a craving for good music.


      • No one ever lost money underestimating the intelligence of the American people…


    • I choose to remain positive, about the prospects of authentic country in the mainstream, and that Mary Sarah will at least pay homage to this side of her influences moving forward. I’ll say this, if anyone will be able to do it, it will be a young, female artist like Mary Sarah.


  • Thanks for continuing to bring these new artists to our attention. Like RD, I also hope for the third way career path, but in the meanwhile, am happy to be part of the “solid, dedicated, sustainable, but smallish following” of many of the artists you feature.


  • Wow, that is a fantastic song! Ray sounds as good as he ever did, and Mary Sarah’s voice is beautiful and – as you said Trig – compliments Ray perfectly. Sadly I just can’t see a song like this getting any play on modern country radio.

    Country music as a genre is the proverbial Big Tent with room enough for everyone from Jimmy Rogers to Kacey Musgraves. Unfortunately corporate country radio is only concerned with playing the same 20 or so songs over and over again. But I believe that the internet has the potential to introduce millions of listeners to music they otherwise would never hear and ultimately that will prove to be a boon for country music.


    • I really don’t see this song getting airplay either, it’s more the potential of Mary to “bridge” the two worlds in more original that I think has a lot of promise.


  • She sounds great and so does Ray Price. Not sure how long ago that was recorded but jeez, for a man in his late eighties his voice was still incredible.

    I’ll be interested to see what kind of original material she puts out.

    One small quibble I have is going by ‘Mary Sarah’ though. I assume that is her first and middle names but artists that do this I think make a mistake. If you have a confusing to say or spell last name or you just want a little privacy fine then go by a professional stage name but names like this make me think Playboy centerfold more than country singer.

    But as I say that is a minor issue and the bigger point is she sounds like she has potential.


  • Always good to see someone so young carrying the torch for traditional country. :)

    Both Mary Sarah and Ray sounded great; if anything, this duet made me recall the promise LeAnn Rimes showed on ‘Blue,’ not just on the hit title cut and “Hurt Me,” but also her recording of “Cattle Call” with Eddy Arnold.


    • That beautiful Dianne Warren song “Hurt Me” was extinguished by corrupt country radio, who basically told LeAnn either we put “One Way Ticket” NOW to radio or you’re history. And the saga continues today. Just watched Pure Country 2. Katrina Elam has a voice as powerful as Martina McBride’s. Nice job of killing her off with so many others(Ashton Shepard and many of her contemporaries). It takes a miracle for any new female to sustain success on regular country radio today; thank goodness for Sirius with their all genre airplay. Notice they are playing the heck out of Sunny Sweeney’s” Bad Girl Phase”.This is where you can hear true non-agenda country music and will become it’s rescue.


  • My God damn! That sounds AMAZING! Looking forward to hearing more from this young lady. Made me very happy to hear Ray’s voice in a recent recording, plus it brings me joy to know that Freddy Powers is involved with this project. Been wondering as of late how he was doing. He’s a real fighter.


  • I will tell you what that is not just good but great. Trig, brother I hope your right and she gets a shot at making a big splash nationally instead of just another great Texas singer songwriter with a regional aduience. However, if it does not work out at least she can sustain a career on the Texas/Red dirt circut.


  • Mary Sarah sounds great. I really like the song. She is very talented. They sound very good together.


  • Excellent! Goes to show you can’t keep a good song down! Anyone know who on fiddle and steel?


    • Hopefully we’ll get this info once the album comes out, but my sense is they pulled out all the stops on this album so I wouldn’t be surprised if they are some recognizable names.


      • Hey y’all

        The lineup is:

        Mary Sarah and:

        Dolly Parton on Jolene
        Merle Haggard with her on Fightin Side Of Me
        Willie Nelson with her on Crazy
        Ronnie Milsap on What A Difference
        The Oaks on Dream On
        Tanya Tucker on Texas When I Die
        Lynn Anderson on Rosegarden
        Vince Gill on Go Rest High
        and others…

        we are waiting on timing and promo for the full release!

        Share away!


    • It’s certainly got the vibe of a Heart of Texas release: I wonder if the great Bobby Flores is involved somewhere along the lines! I look forward to hearing more!!


  • WOW. This is why I read this site. There is no way I would have found this on my own, but this is the best song I have heard come out in a long time.


  • They both sing fine, but lyrically, the song does not work as a duet. Both the man and the woman are pining for each other. So why don’t they just get back together? There’s no interplay between the characters.


Leave a comment

Del Maguey
Old Soul Radio Show
Modern Roots
Best Of Lists