A 'Terrible' Breakup Brought All the Inspiration Olivia Evans Needed to Create Her EP — and It Isn't Country
After years of looking to mom Sara Evans for guidance, Olivia Evans takes the reins on her solo debut
The day Olivia Evans turned 18 years old, the beauty with the big voice knew one thing for sure — she was tired of waiting to make her dreams come true.
"I've been waiting my whole life for this moment," she tells PEOPLE days before the release of her new five-song debut EP. "You can ask my family, ever since I was 11 years old, I would ask, 'Can I make music yet?' I know I needed to grow up and learn a lot of things and all of that. But now, it feels amazing to finally be at this place. It's also really nerve-wracking because people know me, you know, through my mom."
Evans' mother is in fact multi-platinum, award-winning singer Sara Evans.
"People know that I can sing, but I think it's different when it's your first time and you are actually showing people that I'm a writer, I'm a performer, I'm a completely independent person," Evans says.
And it's this independence that Evans' says she leaned on when she made the decision to not follow directly in her famous mother's country music footsteps for her debut project. Instead, she wanted to make music with a bit more of an R&B/pop edge.
"When I was 12 or 13 years old, I discovered Beyoncé and that did it for me," explains Evans, whose strong vocals were featured alongside her mother's on The Barker Family Band EP back in 2019. "I literally was enamored with her. I made myself learn every single one of her songs and watch everything she did."
But now, armed with producer extraordinaire Nash Overstreet, Evans is finding her own lane, a lane that lays out beautifully on her debut track "Of Course I Do." Premiering exclusively on PEOPLE, the music video for the revenge-tinged song she wrote alongside Overstreet and Shane Stevens showcases Evans' sassy attitude and mature looks, paired with an insane amount of vocal talent that she has been nurturing since she was just a little girl.
"I had always known, at least for the past 10 years, that I was going to probably do pop music, R&B music, something like that," she explains. "And while I waited, I grew as a singer and a performer."
That wait got even longer thanks to the pandemic. But it also allowed Evans the time to find the right people and the right music…and the right inspiration to begin writing from.
"I went through a terrible breakup. And it sounds bad, but honestly, a lot of the motivation to write this record was about payback. I was like, 'Okay fine, you're going to cheat on me and break up with me and then I'll get famous," Evans admits with a laugh. "That's exactly what my mentality was. I'm not one to try and take revenge, but I like to pull a Taylor Swift every now and then."
Indeed, in the days and weeks following the breakup, Evans often found herself at the piano, writing breakup song after breakup song, which would eventually become her first EP.
"Not all of them were terrible experiences to write," she explains of the writing that primarily took place in December of 2020. "A lot of them were therapeutic in a way. Once I got the vision of what I wanted to write about, I connected with the right people, and it became a 'in God's perfect timing' type of thing."
But no matter what, she kept her mom and her industry knowledge close by.
"The minute I would get a demo back, I would send it to mom instantly because she's the first one I would want to hear feedback from — honest feedback," says Evans. "She was my biggest help and support during all of this."
Of course, she knows that many might see Evans' connection to her mom, a music legend, as her ticket to fame.
"I don't want people to look at me having her in my life as a negative or that I'm riding her coattails kind of thing," Evans says. "I know I'm so lucky. I'm not taking any of this for granted. I use everything in my power to appreciate the opportunities that I've been given. The fact that I was born with one foot in the door in a way is true. I was raised on tour. So, the road and being in the studio were not new to me. But I've still worked hard to get where I am. I know what I want."
And someday, Evans might even want to try her hand at country music.
"Country music is definitely a little more of a stretch for me, which is funny to me in itself," she says with a laugh. "What I would love in the future to be able to make any kind of records I want. I want to eventually get to that place where I'm 25 and I'm not wanting to make another pop record, so let's make a full-on bluegrass record or country record. I don't want to shut any doors around me, boxing myself into any genre."
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