"You say your every day is a bad dream that keeps repeatin'/ maybe you should have thought about that when you were cheatin'." Cheatin' - Brett James-Don Schlitz.

Timing is everything in show business.

When Boonville born belle Sara Evans released her fifth album Real Fine Place in 2005 she included the Brett James-Don Schlitz song Cheatin'.

The song details the fate of a cheating husband who loses his pick-up truck, house and other chattels to his wife when he is caught cheating.

Now, a year down that infamous lust highway, life may have imitated art for Missouri born Evans, 37, and mother of three young children.

The singer filed for divorce against her husband of 13 years Craig Schelske - a failed Republican candidate in Oregon in 2002 - for allegedly cheating with their nanny and other women.

Evans also alleged her spouse removed $274,000 from their joint account and stored child porn on the family computer.

"There are at least 100 photographs of husband posing with his erect penis," Evans alleged her in her statement of claim.

"There are several photographs showing the defendant having sex with other women."

Now back to the timing and collateral damage for Evans.

She withdrew from the U.S. version of Dancing With The Stars on the ABC network where she had reached the sixth week - but not with her husband.

Her video clip of Cheatin' has received healthy airplay on Pay TV channels CMT in the U.S.
and CMC and Nu Country TV in Australia.

And, for those of us who don't have Pay TV there is good news.

Cheatin' is one of five tracks on Sara Evans -The Video Collection (Sony-BMG) that was released here the week before the story broke.

Maybe the sales royalties will help pay legal fees for an expensive legal battle for the singer who wrote six songs on her latest album.

Although airplay is confined to ABC & community radio in the unlucky radio country her CD sales are likely to enjoy a sales spike at home.



"On a highway bound for nowhere I ran my fingers through my tangled hair/ I pulled in for another tank of freedom/ with a hundred miles behind me and a million more to go/ I was trying to put some distance between us." - Three Chords And The Truth - Sara Evans-Amie Mayo-Ron Harbin.

Missouri minstrel Sara Evans' career was almost over before it started - she spent two years in a wheelchair after being struck by a car at the age of eight.

Sara, third of seven children, began playing mandolin in her family bluegrass band four years before the car broke her legs and arms.

Now, with two albums in her slipstream and newborn baby, the Boonville born belle is ringing in the changes.

Evans, now 28, was a major act on the feminist Lilith Fair tour with the chart topping Dixie Chicks but maternal duties prevented her performing the Atlanta and Nashville legs.

But it was the car accident and foreclosure on her family's Boonville farm near New Franklin that fuelled her tear jerking tales.

"I was in a wheelchair so I stopped playing music for two years," says the singer whose brothers Jay, 9, and Matt, 7, and sisters Leslie, 6, and Ashley, 4, kept the band going in her absence.

"The good thing was I was so young and healed really fast," Sara told Nu Country in a call from her farm at Springfield near Nashville.

"I wasn't constantly in a wheelchair for two years. I was in and out of casts all the time because my legs were shattered and also had re-constructive operations and plastic surgery. I performed in the band a few times in a wheelchair but stopped playing til I was 10."


It's no surprise Sara's singing siblings added harmonies to second album No Place That Far - a disc spawning the title track as a No 1 hit and defying demographic gravity by peaking in the U.S. Top 10 among a sea of schmaltz.

Despite the American success Sara had had to cut a pop mix of the single to win airplay in the U.K. and beyond.

"They say in Europe there's only one format," Sara confided, "they say it's not country or rock. It's just radio."

Down here in the unlucky radio country they call it hits and memories - the bastard child of the lost decades.

It's definitely not country.

But Sara's ascent to success was not overnight - she played in the family bluegrass and gospel band, which earned the princely sum of $50 a night, after the bank took the farm.
The singer worked with her clan after school tending pigs, cattle, corn, beans and tobacco to try to stave off the foreclosure.

Ironically, at 18 on Sara's first Nashville trip in 1991 with brother Matt she met her husband Craig Schelske - also the third of seven children - whose family later lost their farm to a bank.

"We met while waiting tables at a Holiday Inn in Nashville and dated for two years," she revealed.

"I was 20 and Craig was 28."

The duo returned to Nashville in 1995 after a two-year stint with Sara Evans & North Santiam that took its name from a river that ran through Craig's former family farm.
It was back in Guitar Town that six times wed honky tonk hero Harlan Howard heard her voice when she was singing demos for multi-national publishing company Sony Tree.


"And I don't why, I don't know how/ but with his song he turned my life and this car around/ just when I thought I was over you/ he changed my mind with 3 chords and the truth." - Three Chords And The Truth - Sara Evans-Aimee Mayo-Ron Harbin.

Sara penned seven tunes for debut disc Three Chords And The Truth, produced by Dwight Yoakam's guitarist Pete Anderson.

She also revamped Tiger By The Tail - a Howard-Buck Owens co-write that was a 1964 hit for the late Bakersfield veteran.

"Harlan was a big help, he heard me sing and took that tape to RCA Records," Sara revealed.

"That's one of the main reasons I got my record deal because of his support. He said 'girl, I've been looking for you for years to sing my music. There is nobody out there that sings like this, you remind me a lot of Loretta Lynn when she first came to town.'"

Harlan kicked in doors at BMG for Sara who burst into the office of label boss Joe Galante and sang live and unaccompanied to land the deal.

She wrote Shame About That and Crying Game (from her second disc) with Jamie O'Hara - partner of Kieran Kane in The O'Kanes.

O'Hara also penned the George Jones title track Cold Hard Truth and If You Want My Love with Melba Montgomery and Billy Yates who penned The Possum hit Choices.

"He is more of an under rated artist but a highly respected songwriter," Sara says of O'Hara.

"I have loved his writing since the days of the O'Kanes."

But it was Jones old duet partner Melba who helped Sara with putting a new cloth on an old genre.

"She's awesome, she's wonderful," says Sara, "the reason I like writing with her is because she is still in the old school frame of mind. She stayed very traditional country and is such a great person, too."

She wrote with songsmiths diverse as former NRBQ and Carlene Carter guitarist Al Anderson, Aimee Mayo, Bill & Sharon Rice, Ron Harbin, Rosanne Cash's new beau John Leventhal and Jim Rushing - another writer earning royalties from Jones new disc.


"I turned on the radio and a voice came over sweet and low/ and I didn't know the tears were going to start/ but what amazed me even more/ is I'd never heard that song before/ but somehow I knew every word by heart." - Three Chords And The Truth - Sara Evans-Amie Mayo-Ron Harbin.

Although Sara's first disc was too country for mainstream Top 28 radio - she even cut Bill Anderson's vintage 39-year-old song Walk Out Backwards - she wasn't dumped by BMG.

"It surprised and maddened me, honestly" says Sara of the commercial failure of her debut, "it was very frustrating, I couldn't understand the reason why. All I know it was too country. It wasn't the way country music is now in the U.S. The people at radio loved me.

I visited 190 stations and they all said the same thing. We love Sara but they're scared to play real hardcore country. They said this is not what our young listeners want to hear. This is not new country - you can't line dance to it."

Three Chords And The Truth was released simultaneously with the unrelated Leonard Leamer book of the same name with a chapter on Howard.

It won critical acclaim but withered on the radio vine - especially the stone country title track penned with Aimee Mayo and Ron Harbin.

"Once we got going - Aimee and I really connected - it only took about five hours to finish," says Sara of a song drenched with idyllic imagery.

"I turned on the radio and a voice came over sweet and low/ and I didn't know the tears were going to start/ but what amazed me even more/ is I'd never heard that song before/ but somehow I knew every word by heart."

Sara also beat superstars Garth Brooks and Trisha Yearwood for the Howard-Beth Nielsen Chapman tune Time Won't Tell from her No Place That Far.

"They were talking about doing it as a duet and had it on hold," Sara said.
"We called Harlan and said 'we want the song, don't give it them and we talked him into it."


"Found a pay phone at a truck stop/ said a prayer as the quarter dropped/ oh please be home, I know that I was wrong/ honey, don't talk just listen/ I think I found what I was missin'/ in a song I heard on the radio." - Three Chords And The Truth - Sara Evans-Aimee Mayo-Ron Harbin.

She landed a tune in the Joaquin Phoenix-Janeane Garofalo-Vince Vaughn movie Clay Pigeons and cut I Don't Want Play House for the Tammy Wynette tribute disc and performed on the Yoakam Sing For Food tribute disc.

"I haven't seen the movie but it's a real thrill to have a song in it," Sara revealed of "that song is so pretty we're putting it on the international version of the album."

But it was the title track, featuring Vince Gill on harmony that burst the radio moat - she also sings with Vince on his 12th disc The Key.

The new single is a co-write with hit writer Matraca Berg - wife of Nitty Gritty Dirt Band co-founder Jeff Hanna - on the assertive tune, Fool I'm A Woman.

"Matraca came to a writing appointment and said 'I've been in a weird mood recently, I've got this idea. Tell me what you think,'" Sara recalled.

"So she started singing the chorus 'fool, I'm a woman and I'm bound to change my mind.'
I told her 'I love it, let's go with it.' We were done with it in less than three hours."

Success is in the spring air for the singer who once carried Alison Krauss's brother Viktor and her husband in her road band.

"It was a small trio with Viktor (of Lyle Lovett Large Band fame) on upright bass, it was really cool," says Sara who hired Alison to sing on These Days on her new disc.

"My sisters sing on the Leslie Satcher gospel tune There's Only One."

Sara, who cut the Satcher song Unopened on her debut disc, has long been singing the praises of the woman whose songwriting was also exposed by Pam Tillis who toured here in February.

"We wrote a couple of songs together which we didn't record," says Sara.

"She's absolutely wonderful. I would record a whole album of her songs but they're so country my record company didn't want me to go that far country. She's an incredible singer and a fabulous songwriter. Her songs are so heartfelt, deep, and meaningful. She can't write a cheesy song."

It's all a far cry from Sara's tobacco picking days when she quipped: "I'm just like an old white trash family kid - we strive to be a white trash family and we're pretty good at it."
Did she really mean it?

"That was a joke, I love the term white trash," says Sara, "me, my sisters and brothers, we all say we like to be white trash. Maybe that's a term not used a lot in Australia."

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