Exclusive Interview: Mary Sarah Gabs About “The Voice”


If any face is going to make your night, it is Mary Sarah‘s when the FaceTime call connects and that sweet smile is on the other end. That was how we started our weekend — sitting in rooms across the country from one another, catching up on life, exchanging stories, and talking about her ongoing journey on NBC’s The Voice.

The Team Blake singer had just returned from a long day of rehearsals, but couldn’t have been more eager to share her story with NashvilleGab readers, and we couldn’t have been more ready to bring a little more of Mary Sarah to the fans.

For those who don’t know Mary Sarah’s back story, the Texan has been working tirelessly since she was a child to fulfill her dream of breaking into the music industry. From singing at church to touring with Kidz Bop to moving to Nashville to further her career, the twenty-year-old who has collaborated with some of the most renowned artists in country music has always had her eye on the prize.

Despite all the impressive bullet points on her resume, Mary Sarah has experienced the struggles of being a female artist in a male-dominant industry. With The Voice producing such success stories for females in her genre, Mary Sarah saw the benefits to auditioning for the award-winning show and decided to take a slight detour on her road to her dream.

I had friends do it and they come back and say “I would recommend it to anybody.” And I would too. Going through this whole process, it’s been easy. They literally care about your sleep, about your health and your well-being, and they really cater to the artist and it’s really awesome to see.

Before Mary Sarah even stepped foot on to The Voice stage, she had her ideal scenario in mind — Blake Shelton would turn his chair around for her and she would become a member of Season 10’s “Team Blake.” However, the singer-songwriter got more than she bargained for when all four coaches, Shelton, Adam Levine, Pharrell Williams, and Christina Aguilera, turned their chairs around to fight for her to join their teams. Though she ultimately went with what her gut was telling her long before the audition, she did find herself somewhat wavering momentarily.

I, obviously, have loved Blake from the beginning. He’s definitely been an inspiration, just because he started with the traditional country music and that’s where he’s based from, and going into it they told us to be open-minded. Of course I’m thinking “Blake,” but then I thought “okay, let me listen to what the coaches had to say.” And, so, going out there it was honestly between Pharrell and Blake, but Blake was the last person to talk and he had said a lot of things that totally were perfect. He kind of named my voice and me as an artist in the first couple of seconds of just talking, and I was like “oh, okay, it’s Blake!”

Now, with the guidance of the four-time winning coach, Mary Sarah is performing weekly to a live audience, vying for a spot on the following show as she inches closer to that coveted trophy. As she walks that road, you may be surprised to find that it isn’t just Shelton’s words of wisdom that play a role in the decisions she makes each week; Mary Sarah also looks to her fans for their suggestions and opinions.

There are definitely a couple of factors that go into choosing songs for me, and one of them is definitely listening to my fans. I always read the comments . . . looking at the comments of the songs people always want you to sing, and a lot of times I’ll see several times people saying the same song, so . . . I’m like “let me look at this song and see what I can do and maybe it’ll actually be a really good song.” So, that’s a big factor. Then again, you gotta think about a lot of different things. iTunes, what’s the best for charting, a lot of times you don’t want to do a contemporary song that’s on iTunes right now because people have it on their phones, and why would they buy it again? There’s so many different factors that go into it. And also, you know, story songs and the songs that I connect with. I gotta make sure that when I go out there I completely and wholeheartedly believe in the song, and I want to express the story just the way the artist did. Definitely not take a song and completely change it and people hate it *laughs*. There are so many factors when it comes to choosing songs!

As Mary Sarah takes the stage every week to perform the songs that you have suggested and she has connected with, she still finds herself soaking in every moment and catching her breath in awe. From the first time she stood on the stage that is “unlike any other I’ve ever been on,” she has been living in a dream-like state, and I am pretty certain this country music sweetheart has no desire to wake up any time soon.

Blind auditions felt like a dream. It felt so unrealistic standing up there. I felt like I was in a video game. . . . Since then, especially the live stage, it took a bit to get used to because it’s a big stage and you want to work it right, and you know, hit the right points and stuff. It’s like nothing ever before. It’s amazing.

To make sure she is working the stage to her liking, Mary Sarah admits to going back to watch her performances so she can learn from what she did the week before and apply it to future shows. One of the things this adorable and expressive artist has noticed about herself is that she scrunches her face up too much and can’t seem to get it under control.

We have a choreographer here . . . and she’s always telling me to smile more, and I’m like “but I’m expressing the song!” And she’s like “you just need to be a little lighter on the face,” and I look back and I’m like “she’s kind of right…” Even on notes that aren’t even hard, I’m like “ehhh!” . . . Watching myself back is comical to me.

While Mary Sarah is thinking about working on her faces, she also is holding on firmly to a piece of advice she received from Gwen Stefani that pretty much throws inhibition out the window and just encourages her to do what feels right with whatever song she is performing.

She wants you to be yourself and let it go and not worry about the way you’re supposed to sing it or how perfect you sing it. It’s more about passion over perfection.

To sum up Mary Sarah’s experience on The Voice, the girl who is an absolute ray of sunshine to all those who she comes into contact with only had one word to say: “Amazing.”

Being here, it almost feels like home. You know, moving from Texas to Nashville, moving so much, I still haven’t felt like I’ve had a home. I don’t know if that’s whether I’ve been in the right spot or doing the right things, but being here and working so much, especially on something you love, it’s a really cool experience. I really fell in love with all the hard work, and even the times I’m really tired, I realize I’m really tired because of how much I’ve done. It’s not just being tired to be tired. It’s just been an amazing experience. To work with Miley [Cyrus], to work with Gwen, to work with Blake. I literally love Blake. He’s amazing.

This week, Mary Sarah hints that she will be going back to traditional country with a song she has been singing her entire life, including at the Texas Opry when she was thirteen years old. She is really excited to go back to her roots and the roots of the country music genre, and is hopeful that her choice resonates with her fans and The Voice viewers.

You can catch Mary Sarah tonight on NBC’s The Voice at 8:00pm ET/7:00pm CT. To keep supporting this beautiful and talented artist, download The Voice app to log your votes, visit NBC.com, vote on Facebook, and download her performances on iTunes.

Thank you to Mary Sarah for taking time out of her hectic schedule to brighten up my night with her bubbly personality. And, on a personal note, I love you to the moon and back, MaySay, and I’m so proud of you! Keep being you because there is nobody better.