Country music newcomer Sarah Johns grew up in Pollard, Ky., a place so small, she doesn’t know if it even qualifies as a town. “More of a community, really,” she says. “Nothing there at all except a few people and the river.”
Johns’ experiences growing up in a rural community along the Kentucky River are honestly evident in her new CD, Big Love in a Small Town, a collection of songs that she co-wrote. “There are no lies on this record,” she says. “You’re going to hear about me being baptized, drinking too much, flipping people off, then a sweet love song. It’s all real, and it’s all country.”
The daughter of a construction-worker dad and a stay-at-home mom, Johns, 26, grew up singing in an Assembly of God church, sometimes wondering “if I was going to hell for singing country music.” A couple of years ago, a reassuring minister gave her some comforting reasons to believe otherwise.
Now on the road for showcases and visits to radio stations, she finds her country roots are never far beneath the surface. One day early into her promotional tour, a couple of her band members intervened as she was starting to draw a glass of water from the bus’ sink. That won’t be very tasty, they said—wouldn’t she like a bottled water instead? Johns brushed them off. “Hey,” she says. “I’ve drunk from a pond.”