If you've never heard of Sarah Buxton, you should be a little chagrined but you can also forgive yourself. Neither had I until recently, frankly, and the oversight is a little embarrassing.
Buxton, 28, is a native of Lawrence who moved to Nashville 10 years ago. In that decade, she has recorded an album for Lyric Street, written a hit song for Keith Urban (“Stupid Boy”) and sang backup on albums for several big stars: Urban, Kenny Rogers, country-rapper Cowboy Troy and, most recently, Dierks Bentley (she sings on "Sweet & Wild,” a bonus track on his greatest hits album).
The day she spoke to The Star from her home in Nashville, Buxton could have been singing backup on a track for the new Cat Stevens album (with Michelle Branch and Holly Williams, Hank Sr.’s granddaughter). But she turned down the offer.
“I had to say no,” she said. “I’m proud I was asked and sad it couldn’t happen. But I have to work on my own stuff.”
Her own “stuff” will be songs for her second album, though it will be the first album that sees the light of day. Her label, Lyric Street, recently decided that her first album, which she recorded two years ago and then shelved, would be scrapped. (An EP, "Almost My Record," is available on i-Tunes.) For Buxton, that decision was ultimately a relief.
“Up until as recently as a couple of months ago, I was still wondering whether that album would ever come out,” she said. “The label decided it was time to make a new record. I’m in the baby stages of recording that.
“I’m totally happy with it. It was discouraging back when the singles came out and they wouldn’t release it. I was promoting music that no one could buy. But that time is over, and I’ve moved on.”
Friday night, Buxton returns to her hometown for an all-ages show at the Bottleneck in Lawrence. (Doors open at 7 p.m.; tickets are $15.) She returns with fond memories.
“Lawrence is such a huge part of who I am,” she said. “I can’t get back home too much, but when I do, it’s like, ‘This is why I am the way I am.’
"People say, ‘You’re a country singer.’ And, yeah, I’m a country singer, but I didn’t grow up listening to country music. My first music experience was in the Lawrence Children’s Choir. I played handbells in the Plymouth Congregational Church. That was about it for me.
“But when I was a teenager and arguing with my parents and trying to figure out how I fit in, I started writing poetry and I discovered Stevie Nicks. When I think back, my English classes in the Lawrence school district is where I learned how to write and express myself. The schools in Tennessee don’t have what the schools had in Lawrence. They gave me a lot of drive and taught me how to achieve.”
Writing isn’t her only achievement. Buxton will produce her second album: “It’ll be a huge challenge; I won’t have anyone else to answer to.”
Friday night she’ll play some of the songs that will appear on that album, plus a few covers and a few old ones, including the singles off the first album: “Innocence” and “That Kind of Day.” She’ll also sing “Stupid Boy.”
If you know that song but didn’t know it was written by a gal Lawrence who used to ring hand bells in church (and who has written plenty more songs just as good), go see her now before she graduates to bigger venues. And if you can’t make the Lawrence show, Buxton will perform at the Power and Light District on
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| Timothy Finn, The Star