This is, to borrow a cliche, a “local girl makes good” story. Sara Darling, who was born in Mitchellville and graduated from Southeast Polk, has gone on to be featured in reality and late-night talk shows, see her name listed on the Billboard Country charts and tour the country to critical acclaim.
Darling left Iowa at a young age to pursue music. While punk kids might go to New York, or metal heads might make their way out to Los Angeles, Darling followed the wheel ruts of countless songwriters before her to Nashville, Tennessee.
“I just dove in,” she said. “If you allow yourself to think about it too much, you probably won’t do it.
“(I’m) a small-town girl. There’s still so much of that in me. The thing I miss the most is my family, but my dreams were so big I had to make the big step.”
For Darling, that big step led her to Black River Records, where she recorded two studio albums and released her biggest hit single to date, reaching No. 34 on the Billboard charts, “Home to Me.” That single also lead to appearances on “The Conan O’Brien Show” and “The Bachelor” and helped open doors to the wider exposure than she’d previously experienced.
But now, true to the spirit of her Iowa roots, Darling is striking out on her own. After last year’s release of “Home to Me,” she has since parted ways with Black River and independently released her next single, “Little Umbrellas.”
“I decided to go independent because there are times in your life when you have to move on,” she explained. “I wasn’t going to go any further (at Black River). I had some aspirations that I saw myself doing, and I wanted to have a little more creative freedom as an artist.”
The path of an indie artist can be a challenging one, especially for someone coming from a background rooted in an established label. Radio play is more challenging to come by, and tours are more difficult when you’re footing the whole bill. Yet, Darling’s excited for the future.
“I’m planning on releasing another single this summer, and I’m planning on working on a record,” she said. “There’s some really exciting stuff coming up,” she said. “It’s going to be great.” CV