From the Vault: Sara Evans (2003)

Originally published in the Sept. 2, 2003 issue of Country Weekly featuring Alan Jackson on the cover. This story is presented here in its entirety.

Sara Evans admits she was feeling blue—and even a little green—when making her new album. Recorded in two different phases, Restless is a snapshot of her emotions during two different periods, each with its own ailment—the morning sickness of pregnancy, and the lovesickness of being away from her husband. Listening to the songs, you can almost pinpoint which ones were recorded during each session.

Take the current single, “Backseat of a Greyhound Bus,” a song about a young, unwed girl who leaves her hometown in shame when she becomes pregnant, then finds unconditional love with the birth of a daughter. “My emotions were running sky-high at that time,” admits Sara, who was indeed pregnant herself at the time. “I connected with the lyrics so much. It’s just a beautiful story with a very happy ending to something that started out really scary for this girl. Actually, if you look at this whole album, there’s a definite message of hope that runs throughout most every song.”

Almost every song—there are others on the album that mirror her lovesick period, when her politician husband, Craig Schelske, was on the campaign trail in his home state of Oregon, and Sara was squeezing Nashville studio time into a steady schedule of tour dates with labelmate Kenny Chesney.

“Songs like ‘Niagara Falls’ and ‘I Give In’ are emotional and very seductive,” explains Sara. “I was on tour while Craig was campaigning—and I was so desperately missing him! Sometimes we would go two or three weeks without seeing each other. I just felt miserable without him. That’s definitely where the song ‘Tonight’ came from. It was me writing and choosing these love songs to record. They’re sort of sad, but very passionate because I was sad being so far away from Craig.”

Despite the emotionally charged sessions, Sara says she felt much less pressure recording Restless than when she recorded her double-platinum Born To Fly nearly four years ago. “Born To Fly was so successful for me that I had a lot of confidence coming off of that,” she states. “It wasn’t like I was making an album going, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve got to succeed with this one!’ I feel like I’ve made it. I feel like I’ve arrived.”

And she’s arrived with one more family member in tow. Daughter Olivia Margaret was born last January 22, joining her now-4-year-old brother Avery. Sara admits she was worried about the change in family dynamics, especially when she takes both children out on the road. “I thought, ‘How am I going to do it?’ “ she confesses. “But you know, it just doubles the fun. We have a great nanny and so far everything is running like clockwork. We already had a routine down [with Avery], so basically all we had to do is pack for one more person.

“Instead of my love being divided between two children, it just multiplies,” continues Sara. “It’s beautiful and I love it. The older Olivia gets, it’s going to be that much more fun for Avery because he’ll have someone to play with.”

To get back into shape after Olivia’s birth, Sara used her tried-and-true method of only eating when her stomach growls. It’s a diet that frustrates personal trainers she’s worked with—especially ones who advocate eating six small meals a day. “That is just b.s,” she declares. “I do not need to eat unless I’ve gotten to that place where my stomach’s growling and I’m empty. If I veer off of that in any way, I gain weight. If I stick to that, I continually drop weight—a few pounds every month until I get down to a size six, and then I just kind of stay there. That’s the only thing that works for me. “Every night on stage, if I do a 75-minute show, that’s a nice workout. I come off stage just drenched in sweat. Being on the road keeps me real skinny. Plus I’m motivated every day to get into those stage clothes at night. I want to feel good onstage, so I don’t eat.”

Her weight-loss approach is unconventional—but according to Sara, it’s necessary. She freely admits she has an obsession with her body image. “I’m in show business, and the way you look is very important,” she says. “I don’t think I’m fat, I just have this incredible fear of getting fat. If I overeat, I hate myself. Not just feeling ‘Oh, I’m so full.’ I mean, I’m literally so down on myself. “I have these issues where I feel like nobody will like me if I gain five pounds,” she reveals. “I wo’’t be who I am. I won’t be beautiful. I struggle with that—and I think most women do. It’s something that I pray about a lot. I try and just let go.”

Sara’s now crisscrossing the country on a hectic tour, being a mom, wife to a possible future U.S. Congressman and promoting her new album. Her schedule makes the CD’s title all the more fitting. “That’s exactly why we both fell in love with the song ‘Restless,’ “ she says, “and why I wanted to name the album Restless. It really sums it all up. I’m from Missouri, Craig’s from Oregon and we live in Nashville. But we really live on a tour bus.

“We don’t really know where our home is,” says Sara with a smile. “But that’s okay. We’re having a blast.”

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