FROM out of a Basildon music club in 2014 a little known Texan by the name of Sarah Elizabeth Swagerty (Swags to her pals) began the journey of introducing her beloved country music to a British audience.
Fast-forward two years and who would have thought that Swags, now going by the name of SaraBeth, would return to that same stage, only now with a legion of British country fans and a Number 1 hit record under her belt.
The Culpeppers Club is the site of SaraBeth’s homecoming later this month and SaraBeth says she can’t wait to make her eagerly awaited return.
“The owners have become my UK family,” says SaraBeth of the Basildon club.
“My tour mate and guitar player, Glen Mitchell, is from Rayleigh and has been friends with the owners since he was a kid. No UK tour is complete if we don’t play a show at Culpeppers!”
SaraBeth has been ascending the country music ladder in her native USA, appearing on national television and singing the national anthem at major baseball, hockey and American football games.
However, her star is equally growing here, topping the UK Country iTunes Chart with her new EP Full Speed Ahead, and she said her rise on both sides of the Atlantic has been amazing.
She said: “In one word it’s been crazy! I never thought I’d be able to say I’d have a record hit the Number 1 slot. I’m incredibly proud of the project. I co-wrote four of the songs and then covered I Want It That Way by the Backstreet Boys and made it my own.
“One of the things I’ve always loved about music is that it doesn’t matter where you live or what language you speak, music unites us all. I love that people around the world can relate to my songs.
“I now have a solid fan base. Lots of people come to multiple shows, which is really cool. When I sing You Rock My Rodeo it always gets a great reaction from British and American fans. On our last tour we even had fans make You Rock My Rodeo T-Shirts!”
Hailing from a small town called Garland, near Dallas; it was country music that she was raised on; giving the Dixie Chicks and Shania Twain, along with more traditional country singers like Loretta Lynn and Patsy Cline as artists she enjoyed listening to growing up.
It is this passion for country music that the self-confessed travel junkie loves to share, and she says the current UK country scene is very encouraging.
“It’s amazing how much the country scene in the UK has grown,” she says. “There is phenomenal talent in the UK. It’s encouraging to see acts like Ward Thomas and The Shires get signed to major record deals.
“Like every genre, country music is ever changing. There are so many sub-genres. You’ve got traditional country, contemporary country, Texas country, pop country, bro county, the list goes on! A lot of people who say they ‘don’t like country’ have actually been listening to it without knowing, like Hunter Hayes or Lady Antebellum.”
SaraBeth comes to the Culpeppers Club on Saturday, 20 August.
Doors open at 7pm for an 8pm start. To book tickets visit http://www.culpepper-club.com/