Sarah Buxton believes now is finally her time to shine. For the free-spirited singer-songwriter, most notably known for helping craft Keith Urban's Grammy-winning song, "Stupid Boy," the road to her self-titled debut album has proved years in the making.
Moving to Nashville right after she turned 18, the optimistic and bubbly young woman had stars in her eyes as many country hopefuls often do while chasing the Music City dream. And for the most part, her aspiring career began rather well. In fact, she landed her first record deal with Lyric Street Records in 2005.
But as time went by, her glimmering vision slowly began to fade. It would be another five years before Buxton would ever see an album released.
"I was so well received in Nashville," she told CMT.com of her early career. "I had all these record deal offers, and I made this record that I thought was amazing. I didn't think for one second that it wouldn't come out. It was really a heartbreaking process to let that go."
In 2006, she released her first single, "Innocence" and the following year, "That Kind of Day," but neither one quite budged into the Top 25. She later tried with "Space," but it, too, proved short-lived.
It wasn't until 2007 that Buxton received the newfound exposure and reinforcement she had been hoping to find. Keith Urban expressed interest in her music and, more specifically, wanted to record "Stupid Boy," a song Buxton co-wrote with veteran songwriters Deanna Bryant and Dave Berg.
"Originally, I heard that he just loved it and wanted a copy of my whole record," she said. "I was just like, 'Awesome. Oh, my God. He knows my name. He's listening to my music right now!'"
In fact, Urban went on to record "Stupid Boy" for his 2006 album, Love, Pain and the Whole Crazy Thing, and shortly thereafter won a Grammy for his performance of the song. Meanwhile, however, Buxton was left struggling to find her place as a solo artist. She decided to turn to Urban, who also experienced a lengthy career launch, for some much-needed advice.
"When you make it about the music and nothing but the music," he told her, "it's easy."
"It took me a little bit to really understand that," she confessed. "And I feel like I'm finally approaching my career that way. If I'm not having fun, screw it."
In 2008 and again in 2009, things began to look up again for Buxton. Although she still had yet to release an album, she did manage to nab two ACM nominations for top new female vocalist alongside artists like Taylor Swift and Kellie Pickler.
"Those were things that made me keep going," she explained.
That constant fortitude finally paid off. Not only did she join Martina McBride and Trace Adkins on this year's nationwide Shine All Night tour, but her highly-anticipated album on Lyric Street finally came to fruition. A project once begun by a green young songwriter was at last completed by a far more experienced and seasoned artist -- with all of the dreams, disappointments, heartache and love thrown into the mix.
"I am a girl who had a far more awkward time in her 20s than I even did in my teenage years," she laughed. "I think you'll be able to hear some of that -- growing pains. You'll hear all those awkward stages in this record."
Buxton's self-titled album encompasses her journey as an artist. From chronicling her musical voyage in "American Daughters" to finding true love (she is recently engaged) in "Love Like Heaven" and "Wings," to remaining hopeful for the future in "Big Blue Sky," she unearthed all of these pinnacle emotions throughout her work.
Channeling the words of her father, she said of her upcoming horizons, "No expectations. You do things for the love and for the moment of just doing it. And then everything that happens afterwards -- is the booby prize."