Martina McBride

You could plop Martina McBride into any era or genre of music and she could breeze through all of it with ease. This slender beauty with piercing blue eyes and enormous vocal ability is as comfortable with a classic Etta James torch song as she is performing power ballads with Kid Rock.
Throughout her extensive career, McBride’s done both and everything in between, but her heart has always belonged to country music. It’s that love that drives everything she sings, everything she does and it’s at the very core of who she is as a woman, a wife, a mother and a human being.
Love also seems to be the adopted theme of her latest album Reckless, released in April 2016, but then love has been a re-occurring theme to all of McBride’s music since she first hit town in the 1990s.
She was part of the female movement at the time when Nashville was somewhat of a “boys’ club” with guys like Clint Black, Garth Brooks, Alan Jackson and others dominating the music charts. Starting out with a more traditionalist approach before moving into more pop-friendly territory, she was the opening act for Brooks in 1991. She had just married soundman John McBride and in 1990, thecouple moved to Nashville, where he worked for artists like Charlie Daniels and Ricky Van Shelton. Meanwhile, she worked as a demo singer and enlisted her husband to produce her demo tape, which got her signed to RCA in 1991. Also it was around the same time John was hired as Brooks’ production manager, which had a little something to do with Martina landing that opening slot.
It didn’t take long for those power vocals to get noticed. McBride’s debut album, The Time Has Come (1992) was her foot in the door, but her 1993 follow-up, The Way That I Am was her commercial breakthrough, with the lead single, “My Baby Loves Me,” which climbed all the way up the country charts to No. 2.
She caused a controversy by recording the song “Independence Day” and released a controversial video to go with it. The song about domestic abuse didn’t quite reach the Top 10 because many radio programmers objected to the song’s subject of a mother fighting back against abuse by burning the family home to the ground. However, the song won Video of the Year by the Country Music Association Awards and became one of McBride’s signature hits. It also launched the major success of her second album, The Way That I Am, which sold a million copies in the U.S.
That was 25 years ago and McBride has won Country Music Association Female Vocalist of the Year award four times and a Grammy award since then.
Among her other hits are “Valentine,” “Happy Girl,” “A Broken Wing,” “Wrong Again,” “This One’s for the Girls,” and “In My Daughter’s Eyes.”
And some of her fans have fans of their own. McBride is often sought out to perform duets and has recorded them with major players in the music community—from Jimmy Buffett (“Trip Around the Sun) and Jim Brickman (“Valentine”), to Pat Benatar (“Hit Me With Your Best Shot on CMT’s “Crossroads”) and a recording project by Kid Rock. She even performed, electronically, with Elvis Presley on “Blue Christmas.”
Reckless is her 13th studio album and her first album of all-new material since 2011. While it’s not an old-school sounding record, the project is a nod to some of her earlier works like Wild Angel, released in 2005.
“It sounds classic in a way, but also sounds contemporary,” McBride states. “I remember when we recorded songs like ‘Wild Angels’ and ‘Safe in the Arms of Love’ and how contemporary they were for the times. They didn’t sound like anything else. Now, they sound classic. I think that’s what Reckless is to me. It’s a classic sound with a modern feel. I just feel really good about it.”
While her last album in 2011, titled Eleven was heavy with McBride penned songs, this time she let other writers take the wheel. She enjoyed the role of listening and selecting songs, sharing co-producing duties with studio veterans Dann Huff and Nathan Chapman.
“We listened to hundreds of songs,” McBride said. “I always do that because it’s so important. It was fun for me to just kind of wait and see what kinds of songs we could find. It was like a treasure hunt. That’s how I used to do it before I started writing more. I love being an interpreter. I don’t have to write them in order to feel them or believe them.”
“Just Around the Corner” is one of the singles released to video, but one of the album’s standouts is the song she chose to close with, “You and You Alone” which plays to her beautiful vocals.
“I always try to find something that is really special to close out a record,” she states. “It may be the most artistic thing or maybe the least commercial thing, if you want to put it that way. When I heard that song, I knew it was the album closer. It had this 1940s torch song feel and we just wanted to keep it that way.”
Along with a new album in her pocket, McBride also is celebrating the 25th anniversary of her first release, so touring and connecting with her fans is an important part of her career. Her fans mean everything to McBride so she makes sure her shows are what they want to hear. She is one country artist who embraces social media as a better way to communicate with fans.
“We have creative an environment at the shows where fans can come together to share positive energy and a common love of music and leave the concert feeling uplifted and stronger,” she states. “We all know the power of music and positivity and I truly believe that what the fans experience on this tour will have a huge ripple effect in their lives, their communities and the world at large.
“Through social media, my fans tell me they are listening to more than just the hits,” she adds. “And that’s really great because it allows us to be creative in the set list. I love singing the hits but I also love having a little bit of the thought that maybe these are the real fans and are invested in more than just the hit singles. I think mixing it up makes for a more interesting show, as long as you don’t go too over the top with it and play only album cuts. It’s less of a ‘jukebox’ show and more of a show that they would really want to see.”
McBride is probably as surprised as anyone to have had a career that continues to spark her creativity as well as her humanity.
“It’s amazing. It doesn’t feel like 25 years,” McBride said. “I’m still blessed to be making music and touring. It’s been more than I thought would happen.
“I don’t think I could have comprehended it. Longevity is one of my goals—I think it is for everybody. We all want to do this as long as we can. I don’t think I thought in terms of 20 or 25 years. I don’t think I had the capacity to think that far ahead at that point in my life. This business is so volatile, and there’s so much of it that is out of your control. I always said if I didn’t have the fans, I wouldn’t be here 25 years later. So, I think there is a huge debt of gratitude to them” she said.



Edgewater E Center

Saturday, July 7. 8 p.m.; doors open 6:30 p.m. (See Showtimes for tickets)