Haven’t heard of singing star Mary Sarah? Just wait — you will.
The 15-year-old country singer was a featured soloist and ensemble performer in a national KidzBop tour at the ripe age of 12. Since then, she’s appeared on a multitude of Texas opry stages, sang the national anthem at the Astros’ opening game last month and has even appeared on stage with the Oak Ridge Boys
Mary Sarah’s persistence led to the KidzBop tour. During a visit to Los Angeles, Mary Sarah persuaded her mom, Patricia Gross, to stay an extra day so she could audition for the KidzBop tour. Patricia was hesitant about months spent on a bus but, eventually, the whole family gave its OK to a six-month saga that launched Mary Sarah’s budding career.
Yes, she’s driven — but this self-assured teenager has a warm, loving family that helps her, supports her — and keeps her grounded. Previously home schooled, she’s enjoying being in a public high school this year. “I’m actually the first one up in the morning, ready to get going,” she says.
“My family helps with my schedule,” she adds. “Every week we discuss my schedule and practice, and we make sure I get ‘friend time.’ I don’t want to skip any of this time [in school.]” Still, the weekends are devoted to singing. You’ll find Mary Sarah on the stage at some Texas opry nearly every weekend.
Patricia agrees that Mary Sarah’s career is a family affair. “We feel it’s our business as a family, being that she’s so young.” Her parents try to help her juggle the business – and the business of being a kid. The goal is to take it slowly. “There’s no hurry,” says her mom. “She has the rest of her life. Kids that skip this time in their life – it’s pretty tough to learn later on.” While I was on the phone with Patricia, Mary Sarah was pulling together ingredients to bake a cake for a friend’s birthday. “The kitchen’s going to be a mess tonight,” Patricia tells me.
But as much as she wants a singing career — preferably in Nashville — Mary Sarah says that’s not her main goal. “I want to be a voice for those who don’t have one,” she says. “When I’m older I want to have a huge homeless shelter and do whatever I can to make sure people are OK.”
Asked who has inspired her, she starts off her list with her older brother, Chris, who endures diabetes and lives with a liver transplant. As a result, her favorite charity is the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation. The rest of the family isn’t slighted: “They’re so giving with their time and resources, and it’s taught me a lot,” she says. Her sister, 17-year-old Emilee, is her best friend. “She’s always there for me,” Mary Sarah says.
Mary Sarah’s advice for teens with a passionate dream:
- Don’t sacrifice family and friends to pursue a career. You don’t want to look back and have regrets.
- Pay attention to those who have gone before you, and model yourself after the successes.
- Don’t ever think that hard work doesn’t pay off. Talent always rises to the top. Gross quotes Mercer College Basketball Coach Mark Slonake: “Hard work beats talent if talent doesn’t work hard.”