It took a break up with a “bad boy” and her record label for Sarah Darling to come into her own as a country singer.
The 31-year-old Iowa native has since found success with her music and as a contestant on ABC’s new singing competition “Rising Star.” But without her faith in God, Darling told FOX411 she would be nowhere.
“Faith has always been the center of what I do,” Darling said. “Singing, life, everything, it gets me through and keeps me grounded.”
Darling had a religious upbringing, but it wasn’t until later in life that she began to develop her own relationship with God.
“Sometimes when you grow up with [faith] and you hear it, you don’t realize what it means,” she said. “When you get older and you really understand what it means to have faith, that’s when you truly grow as a person.”
Keeping her faith isn’t always easy, especially in the entertainment industry Darling said.
“[I] struggle the most with that fact that being in the entertainment world, it’s all about you and you have to create this almost character,” the “Little Umbrellas” singer explained. “And it's a very interesting balance to walk this line of, ‘God gave me this gift and I want to use it for the right ways’ but you can’t let your head get too big. That would be my biggest struggle -- just losing touch and remembering I’m not big deal which you see sometimes with people in music having a big ego.”
Being in the public eye and finding success as a singer does have challenges other than running the risk of becoming too self-centered. Darling admitted there have been times where she’s had to “say no and I’m not going to do that.” The country artist surrounds herself with family and a good team for support.
“I stay grounded with my family, reading the words of God, just staying focused on the right things,” she said. “I always tell people you actually have to make an effort to do the things that make you feel connected to God and to stay in touch with your family. Those are the things that matter in the end of the day.”
It was her faith and family that kept her going through years of putting in the time in Nashville’s music scene.
“I’ve been in Nashville for 11 years and I was signed at an indie label for six of those years, and a lot of my hard work has paid off but I’ve never had that ‘big break,” said Darling who saw her song “Home to Me” chart in 2012, performed more than 50 times at the Grand Ole Opry but since splitting with her label has struggled to promote her music. “Doing ‘Rising Star’ is a great opportunity and a good challenge for me to stretch as an artist.”
Many of country music’s top artists got their start on singing competition shows such as Miranda Lambert, Scotty McCreery and Carrie Underwood. Darling says she is now ready to hopefully follow in the same path after learning from her mistakes.
“Right when I moved to Nashville I dated a guy, we were both so young, and he was the first guy to break my heart,” the now happily married Darling revealed. “He just wasn’t in love with me, there was someone else, and I think it was very traumatic for me so I ended up writing so many songs about it.”
The experience made Darling realize “no matter what you’re going through, God is always there for you.”
Faith & Fame is a regular column exploring how a strong belief system helps some performers navigate the pitfalls of the entertainment industry.
You can find Sasha Savitsky on Twitter @SashaFB.