In the summer of 2000, Sara Evans was preparing to release the debut single for her third album, the follow-up to 1998's No Place That Far, which featured the hit title track -- her first No. 1 single. The song, "Born to Fly," would go on to become Evans' second No. 1 hit and signature song. But on the day she wrote the song with Marcus Hummon and Darrell Scott, she was just reflecting on being a small town Missouri girl with a dream.
Evans, who released her covers album Copy That on May 15, says the song was born out of telling her life story to her co-writers.
"It was the story of my life because I'd never met these writers before. It's crazy because I've written so many songs with them since then. But Marcus [Hummon] just said, 'Tell me about you.' So I started talking about growing up on a farm in Missouri and being a total farm kid and having to work really hard...He just started strumming and kind of singing jokingly 'I've been telling my dreams to the scarecrow.' And we're like, 'Oh, that's so awesome!' Because it's such a vivid picture of me standing out in the cornfield talking to the scarecrow and we just went from there."
In the 20 years since its release, "Born to Fly" has taken on a life of its own as a rallying cry for dreamers everywhere.
"It's kind of an anthem," Evans says. "How do you stay in a small town in Missouri in rural America when you know that you're born to do big things? I just had to make that tough choice to leave my family and my home, my friends and everything that I'd ever known and move to Nashville. But I knew that I was born to fly."
When the singer-songwriter recounts her memories of writing the song, she remembers the joy of being a first-time mom. (Her son, Avery, even sat in a bouncy chair beside her when she co-wrote the song.)
"I knew that having became a mom had changed me so drastically and it gave me so much confidence and joy. And you can see that. It shines right through in 'Born to Fly'... It took me over the top," Evans says. "I think it's all a result of that major life altering event of becoming a mom."
Born to Fly, co-produced by Evans and Paul Worley, has been certified double-platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) and spawned the singles "I Could Not Ask For More," "I Keep Looking" and "Saints & Angels."
Evans performed "Born to Fly" during the opening medley at the 2019 CMA Awards as part of the ceremony's tribute to the women of country.
Evans will release her memoir Born to Fly in September.