Merlefest Songwriting Winner Sarah Jane Nelson to Release Shelby Park April 29th

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Sarah Jane Nelson is pleased to announce the April 29th release of her new full-length, Shelby Park. Nelson’s latest effort includes songs about marriage, divorce, motherhood, beauty, and self-acceptance. She even tackles the issue of sexual assault with the hauntingly brave and beautiful, “Smile Pretty.” Straddling the worlds of Americana and Classic Country, she sings truthfully and from the heart.

Alot has been going on professionally for Sarah Jane. Her latest video, “I Wish I Missed You” premiered in The Boot and has been added to CMT.com, watch it on CMT here. Sarah Jane recently won the country division in the MerleFest Chris Austin Songwriting Contest and has been a finalist for the International Songwriting Competition and Kerrville New Folk Festival.

Born in southern Arkansas, Sarah Jane grew up with loving parents who would flirt and sing in harmony to 1960’s break-up songs by Elvis Presley and Skeeter Davis. Summers were spent with her Mammy and Pappy traveling to bluegrass festivals in their motorhome, the little curly-haired girl dancing to the fiddles and banjos, embraced by the tight-knit bluegrass community. Her father’s work takes the family to the bayou of Monroe, Louisiana, and the utopia is interrupted when her idyllic home breaks up, rocked by infidelity that nobody saw coming. Her world turned upside down, she retreats to the radio, back to her sad country songs, stories woven around her pain.

A month after high school graduation, Sarah Jane won America’s Miss T.E.E.N. beauty pageant, moved to NYC, and started performing in plays and musicals. Within a few short years, she made her Broadway debut in Julie Taymor’s The Green Bird and starred in SWING on Broadway and the 1st National Tour. Then life took priority over career, she got married, had children, moved to Nashville, and then got divorced. As a newly single mother, Sarah Jane turned back to the country and gospel music from her childhood, writing her way to resilience, through grief, and toward love.

Nelson’s latest collection, Shelby Park, was recorded at The Rukkus Room in Nashville and produced by Sarah Jane Nelson, Jamie Tate (Taylor Swift, Thomas Rhett & Justin Moore.) Sarah Jane wrote seven songs solo and paired up with I’m Not Broken co-writer Kenny Foster for three tunes. For the heartfelt love letter from mother to child, “Mama Loves You” Nelson co-wrote with fellow single mom and East Nashville songwriter, Katie Boeck.

Prior releases include 2020’s I’m Not Broken, lauded by Wide Open Country “Sarah Jane Nelson channels a little Loretta Lynn attitude on her fiery new song “Reap What You Sow.” Only rather than warning her man’s mistress that she “ain’t woman enough” to take her man, she’s practically begging her to take him off her hands.” Other full-length albums include A Little Bit of Everything, Saving Grace, Wild Women Don’t Get the Blues, and A Country Christmas.

Nelson’s childhood influences ring loud as one can hear hints of Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn, Wynonna Judd, and Mary Chapin Carpenter. “In the last couple of years as I’ve become focused on my songwriting craft and personal development work, I’ve been getting much more comfortable in my own skin. I feel like that comes through in this new record. Every song has a bit of me and a bit of the stories I’ve heard along my way. My goal is to write from my truth while illuminating universal truths that help women feel heard and seen. In sharing myself, I share their stories as well.”

Although her career and musical influences span a wide range, Sarah Jane Nelson is no straightforward theatrical talent, trying on a costume of a genre. The songs on Shelby Park come from a decidedly Americana truth, from a single mother hanging onto a dream through unexpected changes, from a singer returning to the land and music of her childhood, from a keenly observant writer telling the stories of others born out of her own specifics.